Wednesday, July 21, 2004

How desperate are right-wingers to gin up a phony scandal to embarrass Kerry and the Democrats? At the top of the home page of National Review Online is a picture of Kerry with Howard Dean, accompanied by the words "Dean's incest vote." A teaser below that, in the table of contents, says, ominously, "Howard Dean voted in favor of incest."

Go to the story and you learn the less-than-shocking truth: In 1982, Dean, as a Vermont state legislator, voted to allow an exception to the state's incest law for a 65-year-old woman who wanted to marry her 86-year-old maternal uncle -- and he was joined by 72 other members of the Vermont House. The House members -- understandably -- concluded that the reproductive argument against incest did not hold sway in this case; equally understandably, the Vermont Senate embraced a slippery-slope argument and voted against the exemption. The couple never married.

The article concludes that Dean's vote in favor of the elder couple is "just one data point the Kerry campaign will doubtless want to consider in its calculations about what role to give the controversial former Democratic governor next week." Er, no, it isn't.

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