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Mary Matalin on Mary Cheney . . .

. . . Bill Clinton, Al Franken, and her foray into conservative-book publishing.

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With a new Simon & Schuster imprint called Threshold, political strategist Mary Matalin is joining the ever-crowded field of conservative-book publishing. First up: a memoir from Mary Cheney. Jada Yuan spoke to Matalin.

Do we really need another conservative imprint?
Need? Do we need another publisher of liberal books? That’s like saying, “Are you worried about too many people voting?"

How did you seal the deal with Mary?
I was a comfort factor. I’m not a hustler.

When you worked for her dad, weren’t you supposed to soften his image?
No, no, no. Dick Cheney forbade me to waste time on his image. I would have liked to have done more.

Doesn’t a memoir go against Mary’s desire to remain behind-the-scenes?
Well, her father’s never gonna run again.

What don’t we know about her?
The way she has been used by various groups.

Was she more upset with gay-rights groups or Kerry?
You’ll have to wait for the book.

How did she come out to her parents?
I’ve never asked.

Really?
No! Why would I? How [her] sexual orientation played out in the campaign is of interest to me. But the rest is her own business.

Then what’s so revelatory?
I am not a total, complete nitwit when it comes to selling books. I promise you there will be unexpected things. Some of them I don’t know yet. She’s writing it all herself.

Will you line-edit it?
I don’t have the attention span.

Did you read Bill Clinton’s book?
I’m not opposed to reading it. It’s just that of all the things that are sitting on my desk . . .

Do you read Al Franken?
I particularly don’t read his books because they have a special dearth of facts. But I don’t want my books to be some anti-liberal thing. I think that debate is over.

You and your liberal spouse, James Carville, have two kids. Have you each picked one to indoctrinate?
The little one [age 7] asked me, “Mommy, what is a liberal and what is a conservative?” And I gave some William Safire definition. It was like, “When you’re older, we can talk about it.”

Do you and James ever share political secrets?
Before I would protect a secret of his, I would leak it. That’s just the rules of our game.


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