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    On the ground

    There were a bunch of books I’d wanted to pick up in the City–yes, you can order on Amazon, and I do, but it’s not the same as the delicious feeling of wandering through a bookstore with loads of shelves of books you can touch–but the books got crowded out by bookish conversations with the college crew. Not that that was a bad thing. I enjoyed it. But it meant that I confronted the airport with very little to read on the plane and was looking for something heftier to supplement the magazines I’d picked up.

    Well, airport newsstands being what they are, there was nothing remotely interesting but Mary Cheney’s new memoir Now It’s My Turn. So I picked it up and figured that for once I’d read the book everyone’s talking about while everyone’s talking about it.

    One thing that’s struck me as weird: Am I the only one who’s noticed the similarity in title with Nancy Reagan’s My Turn? Maybe I really have just missed it, but I’ve been waiting and waiting for people interviewing Cheney to ask her, “So, when you were writing your memoir of being a member of an executive branch Republican’s immediate family who had to undergo a lot of public speculation you thought crossed a line or two, you chose a title that echoed that of Nancy Reagan’s book. Was that intentional?” Isn’t that an obvious question, especially considering the implied vengefulness of the phrasing?

    Cheney, of course, doesn’t have fun, gossipy stuff like borrowed couture, scheduling by astrological counseling, and chilly parent-child relationships to talk about (or to give readers the wicked fun of watching her carefully avoid). Her strength is that she comes across as genuine, thoughtful, unassuming, and centered. Her book is a good corrective to the image of gays–especially lesbians–as grim, humorless, squallingly resentful of parents, and inclined toward groupthink.

    Gay Patriot West thinks It’s My Turn may be the most important book addressing a gay topic in the last few years. I think he may be right–though he doesn’t put it this way–in the sense that Cheney focuses not really on policy points (I found her a bit squishy in the way she presented her reasoning on the issues myself) but on the ways contact with reasonable gay people can affect people’s thinking. And, to a lesser extent, on the ways gay political figures work out the compromises they have to make when competing issues come into play. (Instapundit’s newest podcast features an interview with Cheney, BTW.)

    The weakest aspect of the book, in my view, was the depiction of the nuts and bolts of political campaigning. Politics junkies have heard most of it before. And if you have any queeny friends who work in event planning, they probably had more amusing venue-related emergencies over the last weekend than Cheney dredges up over two national campaigns lasting months each. That’s a credit to her in the sense that it may simply mean the campaign staff knew what it was doing, but as reading it gets kind of samey.

    Then again, this is the sort of book that was probably targeted at conservatives who want an insider look at household life with Lynne and Dick Cheney and may be curious about Mary’s lesbianism. In that sense, the mild tone, PG-rated expression, and family-oriented subject matter were probably a wise choice in addition to probably being the way she genuinely experienced the campaigns.

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