The Reactionary Utopian
                    December 11, 2006

by Joe Sobran

     If Rip Van Winkle were to awaken today, one would 
hardly know where to start. Explaining rap music and 
"ultimate fighting" would be the easy part.

     This week's big news in the Republican Party is that 
Mary Cheney, usually described as "Vice President Dick 
Cheney's openly lesbian daughter," is going to have a 
baby. Maybe we should think of it as "ultimate 
motherhood." Just when we were getting used to surrogate 
motherhood. What will next week bring?

     Everyone's trying to be terribly open-minded about 
it, of course, because this is, after all, the 
twenty-first century and nobody wants to sound like some 
old twentieth-century fuddy-duddy. I think it was Charles 
Peguy who observed, before World War I, that we will 
never know how many acts of cowardice have been motivated 
by the fear of being insufficiently "progressive." So 
here goes.

     I'm such an old coot that I can still remember when 
unmarried women were sometimes embarrassed when they 
found out they were pregnant. Yes, it could happen in the 
best families, but, well, it really wasn't supposed to. 
When it did, it was an accident. You didn't expect to 
find out about it if it should happen to the daughter of 
the vice president of the United States. Think Alben 
Barkley. Heck, think Dan Quayle, or even Al Gore.

     That was then, this is now. It wasn't an accident. 
Mary Cheney and her, er, spouse have chosen to have a 
child. Like, on purpose. It's a deeply personal decision, 
between a woman, her partner, and her turkey baster. You 
got a problem with that?

     Actually, I do. Now I hate to sound like one of 
those stuffy old Druids of eld, and I'll be the first to 
agree that a "normal" person is probably someone you just 
don't know very well yet, but I still think we are all 
better off when we make a reasonable effort to be, or at 
least appear, more or less normal.

     And darn it, lesbians having babies just isn't 

     One proof of this is that even Democrats can't help 
snickering about it. A liberal columnist in the 
WASHINGTON POST, the ever-progressive Ruth Marcus, wrote 
of it under the inspired headline "It's a Cheney!" She 
let on that it's funny only because it shows up the 
reactionary vice president and the rest of his "family 
values" party.

     Yeah, sure. That does make it funnier, but it would 
be funny anyway, because weird things are funny. Let's 
not try to pin this on the Republicans. Gay marriage 
wasn't their idea.

     Before we discuss what to name the baby, or whether 
Mary Cheney should exercise her constitutional right to 
have it snuffed right up to the moment of birth, let's 
talk about the forgotten man in all this: the father, or 
as he would now be called, the "biological" father.

     What kind of man supplies his own seed to help 
create a child who will never know him as its father, and 
who is bound to be tormented by wondering about what 
other children can take for granted? How will that child 
feel upon learning, or figuring out, the bizarre origins 
of his or her existence? Does one send a turkey baster a 
card on Father's Day?

     This is not like begetting a child in a moment of 
passion and putting it up for adoption later in the hope 
it will have the normal family life you couldn't provide. 
It's the opposite: cold-bloodedly begetting a child, most 
unnaturally, in the full knowledge that its family life 
will be abnormal. If it manages to be happy anyway, that 
will be no fault of the biological father's. We've all 
known some deadbeat dads who have failed their children 
through simple lack of character, but this guy, whoever 
he may be, takes the cake.

     Most men -- let's call them normal men -- couldn't 
bear the knowledge that they had a son or daughter 
somewhere out there who was always secretly asking itself 
not just who the actual "biological" father was, but what 
sort of emotional freak he was. Who wouldn't rather be an
orphan than a child thus abandoned, as it were, by nature 

     Well, it's a Cheney, I guess.


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