William Safire's column in today's New York Times summarizes the issue well, and with the perspective of a man who has been around presidential politics for a long time. His concluding paragraph:
When polls showed two-to-one disapproval of the calculated Kerry-Edwards
abuse of the young woman's privacy, the Democratic strategists who concocted
this base-suppressing dirty trick orchestrated a defense that it was Dick Cheney
who "outed" his daughter months ago. They are advising Kerry that he would look
weak or, worse, slyly manipulative were he to apologize for tagging the Cheneys
with the word "lesbian" before 50 million viewers.
Kerry will, I hope, assert his essential decency by apologizing with
sincerity. Other Republicans hope he will let his self-inflicted wound fester.
They have in mind a TV spot using an old film clip of a Boston lawyer named
Welch at a Congressional hearing, saying "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at
long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
Having heard Kerry say yesterday that in a Bush second term Medicare benefits will fall by 35-40%, I think I know the answer to that question.
UPDATE: John Hinderaker of Power Line adds his analysis here. Hinrocket notes:
. . . I think the Dems have been done in by their own bigotry here. The only way their strategy made sense is if they thought that Republican evangelicals would be
shocked by the knowledge that one of the Cheneys' daughters is gay, and would
therefore abstain from voting. What this shows is their misunderstanding of, and
misplaced contempt for, their political opponents.