House Republicans will likely vote on Wednesday to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (Wy.) as their Conference chairwoman, the third most powerful GOP position in that chamber. Why? Well, she dared to challenge former President Donald Trump’s leadership of the Republican Party, stating that his lies about the 2020 election were responsible for the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
For those who aren’t familiar with this lady, she’s the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and the sole representative from the state of Wyoming. She’s a fiscally and socially conservative lawyer whose focus has been on national security issues, a strong military and pro-business policies. Ms. Cheney held positions in President George W. Bush’s State Department and was a Fox News contributor during parts of President Obama’s administration, even subbing for Sean Hannity on occasion. She has also been quite controversial over the years.
On Larry King’s talk show in 2009 she gave credibility to the “birthers” – those who don’t believe Obama was born in the United States. Instead of condemning them, she alleged that people had reason to question Obama’s national loyalty. Further, she claimed that Democrats have more “crazies” among them than Republicans. The birther-in-chief, of course, was Donald Trump.
Cheney was elected to the House in 2016 and promoted to conference chairwoman in November 2018. Her rapid rise to leadership is probably because she has been described in various conservative publications as “Republican royalty,” and the “heiress to a neoconservative throne.” After taking her seat in the House, she became a Trump loyalist, supporting his positions 92.9% of the time with her votes. She has also been one of the toughest talking Republicans in Congress, accusing the Democratic Party of promoting anti-Semitism, infanticide and socialism after the Democrats regained control of the House in 2019.
There is no chance I would ever vote for Cheney if she were running in my district; I could never support her conservative positions and her disingenuous, nasty comments. Yet, among the 260+ Republican members of Congress, she stands out as one of the very few who is willing to aggressively take on Trump. She states clearly – and often – that he lied about the 2020 election result and is responsible for the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Cheney advocates banishing Trump from the GOP, even at the risk of seriously damaging her political career. For that, I have to admire her courage and her recent bold comments.
“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” Cheney wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed, while touting the rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power. Well, Wyoming Republicans have decided; they censured Cheney for voting to impeach Trump.
During a recent GOP retreat in Orlando, Florida, Cheney told reporters that anyone challenging the 2020 election results should be disqualified from a presidential campaign in 2024, and that she herself would not rule out a run. This fired a shot across the bow of election deniers, like Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who will apparently seek the GOP nomination.
Cheney called on the GOP to “make clear we aren’t the party of white supremacy.” “You certainly saw anti-Semitism. You saw the symbols of Holocaust denial… you saw a Confederate flag being carried through the rotunda,” she said, referring to January 6 attack on the Capitol.
She favors a 9/11-typed commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection that is narrowly focused – directly challenging House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) who has proposed a wide-ranging probe into Black Lives Matter protests and antifa. For speaking truth to power, she will apparently lose her position in the GOP House leadership and may be ousted from her seat in Congress. What does that say about the Republican Party?
CNN quoted Cheney as telling Republican donors at an American Enterprise Institute retreat in Sea Island, Ga. last Monday, “We can’t embrace the notion the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy. … We can’t whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump’s big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.” By making these comments, Cheney has ripped the stiches off the wound Trump has inflected on the GOP.
On Sunday, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) – chairman of the ultra-conservative, 154-member Republican Study Committee – told Fox News’ Chris Wallace, “Republicans are almost completely unified … to oppose the radical Biden agenda.” Referring to Cheney he said, “[S]he’s lost focus on the singular mission we have.” Wait! Did he just admit that the GOP is opposed to everything Democrats do, whether it is good for the nation and its people or not?
On another Sunday show, Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan accused the GOP of becoming a “circular firing squad” for its criticism of members like Cheney who must “swear fealty to the dear leader or get kicked out of the party.” “I think they’re concerned about retaliation [from Trump]”, Hogan added.
Well, this fight isn’t over and Ms. Cheney seems eager to confront her executioners. So, I’m wondering, does she have some devastating ammunition to defend herself? And will she use it? We shall soon see.