Liz Cheney and the GOP: Tension continues to rise between Liz Cheney and the GOP. Here’s what both sides are saying about the issue. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: Liz Cheney
The Intrigue: On Wednesday afternoon, the Washington Post published an opinion piece from Rep. Liz Cheney titled, “The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us.” The article is behind a paywall, which is somewhat ironic since the Washington Post’s slogan is “Democracy Dies in the Darkness,” but that’s not the point. The point is that the Representative from Wyoming has become a lightning rod in the GOP for her opposition to former President Donald Trump. This is a big deal because she is the third-ranking House Republican. In January, she voted to impeach Trump and said, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” She then echoed these comments in her recent op-ed, arguing that “the Republican party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution.”
The Reaction: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was caught on a hot mic saying he’s “lost confidence” in Cheney, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she commends Cheney “for her courage, for her patriotism, and [wishes] her well,” and Trump thinks “she is looking for a way out of her Congressional race… in order to save face.” Here’s what commentators on the right and left think of the ideological battle for the soul of the GOP heading into the second half of the year.
On The Left
Democrats view Cheney as politically damaged. They don’t think she’s any match for Trump, whom they now believe firmly controls the Republican party. While most support Cheney in this political duel, some on the left won’t let that distract them from what they deem a sordid political history.
Trump is here to stay: Stephen Collinson writes in CNN that Cheney is close to losing her position “after a lonely defense of the truth that last year’s election was not stolen.” As she said, “We Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.” However, he continues, Cheney is “defending a vision of the GOP that no longer exists,” as the party has been “superseded by a populist, autocratic, anti-free-trade, and deficit-oblivious vehicle for Trump’s personal gratification.” Collinson is resigned to the fact that “Trump’s hold on the GOP…is one of the most remarkable achievements in modern politics.” Simply put, Collinson writes that “Liz Cheney’s fall shows that Trump is here to stay.”
Wy-no-ming: Meanwhile, in POLITICO, Ally Mutnick highlights polling showing “a majority of Wyoming Republicans disapproving of Cheney and continuing strong support for Trump.” She quotes a likely Trump (or Trumpism) recruit for the 2022 primary race, attorney Darin Smith, who said, “I think anybody who’s a decent Republican is going to get behind whoever Donald Trump eventually endorses.” However, Cheney “still has formidable political advantages at home and will not be easy to beat.” Mutnick attributes that to a “massive network of donors and $1.4 million in the bank” as well as her father, “a former congressman and vice president, still popular in the state.” One wild card in the race, she says: Wyoming’s election law “allows voters to change their registration on the day of the primary.” Although the state is reliably red, “that rule would allow Democrats and independents to boost Cheney in her proxy fight with Trump, should they wish.”
Can’t Trust That: Finally, Charles M. Blow, writing in the New York Times, doesn’t let his desire to stick it to Trump sugarcoat what he believes is Cheney’s ugly past. He describes her as “a Joan of Arc in our collective battle against the Big Lie who is willing to let herself be burned at the political stake and to become a martyr for conviction and moral clarity.” To that end, Blow sees Liz Cheney and her father “positioning themselves as protectors of the old order, as paragons of truth, and as defenders of our American norms.” While that may be an enticing idea for some, Blow cites the Iraq War, torture programs, birtherism, and other reprehensible positions as reasons to keep holding the Cheney family in contempt. In his words, “the sword she’s falling on is one she has spent her political career brandishing.”
On The Right
Republicans are noticeably split on the issue. Moderate Republicans echo Cheney’s battle cry that the election was not stolen, but are split between ousting or supporting her. Meanwhile, the more populist wing of the party is out for blood.
Leadership Needs to Unite: Jon Gabriel criticizes Cheney in Ricochet, sarcastically stating, “If House leadership’s job is to divide its own party, Cheney would be a perfect fit.” Instead, “Republican Conference Chairs are supposed to unite the team and take the fight to Democrats.” A fight, he states, that is critical in a time when Democrats control the House, the Senate, and the White House, seeking to “[jam] through a radical progressive agenda.” While he agrees with Cheney on the election results and that Trump’s “incitement merited impeachment,” Gabriel says that is merely “history.” Ultimately, “Cheney was hired to represent the people of Wyoming and she refuses to do it,” and polling shows that “Wyoming Republican primary voters oppose her 29% to 65%.” As such, Gabriel believes the job should shift from Cheney “to a Republican who wants to achieve party goals in the current Congress and prepare to take the majority in 2022.”
Don’t Diminish the Party: The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, comes out in support of Cheney in an editorial. They state Republicans have a strong chance to regain the majority in 2022 “unless they devolve into internal brawling over the 2020 election.” Although House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “I’ve had it with her,” he also acknowledges that “Ms. Cheney is right” that “the election wasn’t stolen.” The Journal editors accuse Trump of imposing a loyalty “litmus test for every Republican candidate” and state he is hurting the party by “spending his energy settling scores.” If the GOP purges Liz Cheney “for honesty,” they conclude, it would “diminish the party.”
Ziegler’s Zingers: Lastly, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, in a series of Tweets, says Cheney’s job is to raise money, stay on message, and not undermine the caucus, calling her a failure on all three counts. Hemingway says Cheney “seethes with hatred for Trump as much as she loves decades-long interventionist wars without exit strategies or metrics for success.” She also accuses Cheney of being a “prime pusher of the discredited, anonymously sourced Russian bounty story.” Hemingway doesn’t stop there, laying into the Washington Post who have “all-hands-on-deck helping out Liz Cheney because…they run Dem propaganda,” which “hurts the GOP.” She lands the final blow on so-called NeverTrump Republicans, “who led messaging of the right during [the] Bush-Cheney,” years, lambasting them for their “unquestioning support of wars [without] exit strategies, corporatism, [and] belief that truly fighting lefty media is gauche.”
Flag This: Liz Cheney and the GOP
Public Sentiment: On Wednesday, the Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee, released a poll showing more than half (52%) of likely Republican primary voters said they would vote against Cheney next year no matter the opponent. Just 14% said they would support her. More broadly, 65% of Wyoming GOP primary voters view Cheney in a “negative light,” while less than a fifth reported the same for former President Donald Trump.
Flashback: If Cheney’s “History is watching us” comment in her opinion piece sounds familiar, or rings a bell of sorts, that’s because she has an interesting past in regards to drawing a line in the sand and being on the “right” or “wrong” side of history. In 2013, Liz and her sister Mary Cheney had a public falling out during the former’s unsuccessful run for the Senate. Mary is gay, however, Liz said that she “believes in the traditional definition of marriage.” In a Facebook post, Mary wrote, “Liz—this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree, you’re just wrong—and on the wrong side of history.” Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. History, too, depends on the subjective vantage point through which it is viewed.
Flag Poll: Liz Cheney and the GOP
Should she stay or should she go? Is it time for Liz Cheney to ride off into the Wyoming sunset or do you think she should keep up the rough and rowdy fight in DC? Click here to share your thoughts.