Monday, June 12, 2006
Chronicle, Yes. Reflective? No!
This review of Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of a Political Life has also been posted to Amazon.com.
This book lives up to half its title. It is, indeed, a chronicle of political life--of the everyday rigors of traveling on a campaign plane, wearing suits that don't show stains, and eating hotel club sandwiches. That chronicle is interesting--for about ten pages.
But Mary Cheney knows why people are (or aren't, if the Bookscan numbers so far are accurate) buying this book. They want to see how she, a lesbian in a committed relationship, grapples with having worked for George W. Bush even as he used his opposition to gay marriage to win the election. The implication of the first half of the title--"Now It's My Turn"--is that we'll hear where she stands.
We do, sort of, but it's a dishonest reflection. Her characterization of Kerry and Edwards as "bad men" because they mentioned her during the debates reads as more heartfelt than any criticism she may have for Bush and his position. She tells the reader she considered quitting over the gay marriage amendment, but after that her troubles with her own side seem to have vanished, replaced with vitriol for any Democrat. An earlier Amazon reviewer said she could have replaced the word "Democrat" with "devil" and the book would have read the same, and that's true.
The book reads terribly, by the way. It's littered with the same phrases over and over; "Which, indeed, they did" and "It was exactly the right thing to do" come to mind. Invading Iraq, dissembling to the press, picking a speaker to introduce her father; everything was "exactly the right thing to do." As I said, not exactly a reflective book. Instead, we're treated to constant self-congratulation, down to such petty achievements as the Cheney family beating the family of the other VP candidate onto the stage following the debate and the quick thinking required to come up with a gesture to John Edwards (sticking out their tongues) that wouldn't draw attention to the family.
This was Mary Cheney's one chance to make a real contribution to the nation, and perhaps to atone for her support of Bush. As a book, and as atonement, "Now It's My Turn" fails miserably.