Liz Cheney’s problems are piling up, according to Politico. The Republican Conference chair has lost the confidence of more than half of the members she purports to lead as the third-highest ranking GOP member in the House of Representatives. The move has also garnered a primary challenge and censure back in Wyoming.
“There’s a lot of concern in the conference,” Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, an influential conservative leader, said about Cheney last week.
Much of the disappointment stems from her decision to give her full-throated support to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s rushed second impeachment of President Donald Trump days before he left office. Cheney sided with Democrats and the media in blaming Trump for a mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol.
A quickly thrown-together article of impeachment she voted for claimed that a mob was incited by Trump’s Jan. 6 speech near the White House, in which he explicitly told marchers to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” at the Capitol. Further reporting indicates that the group of rioters had pre-planned their attack and were beginning their breach of the Capitol while the president was still speaking more than two miles away, continuing to assert his case that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Cheney asserted without evidence in a statement that has been used non-stop by Democrats and the media since it was given.
It was expected for the Democrats to rush to judgment in the heat of the moment without even pretending to investigate the facts. For a purported leader of the Republican conference, it’s an embarrassment and a scandal.
For Democrats, impeachment was a no-brainer, and not just because impeachment had been their modus operandi for the entire Trump administration. (See “Obsession: Inside the Washington Establishment’s Never-Ending War on Trump,” by Byron York.) With the media’s help, impeachment would help weaken the Republican Party, pressuring Republican office holders to split from the party’s most popular politician. Impeachment and conviction of the left’s most difficult political opponent is part and parcel of their plan to silence, deplatform, and censor all of their political opponents.
It was an obvious ploy, a trap that should have been fairly easy to avoid. All House members had to do was withstand the media hysteria and see the tactic for what it was. And by and large they did. In the end, only 10 Republicans voted for it, while 197 voted against it.
With Trump leaving office and the Senate and the House narrowly held by Democrats, many Americans are desperately hoping the remaining Republicans will fight the left-wing onslaught in the country. Succumbing to political pressure at such an important time isn’t a particularly good look for any Republican. For a person in leadership, it’s an embarrassment.
It’s Not Just Impeachment
A few months ago Cheney faced a mini-rebellion over her decision to fund Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie’s primary opponent — a huge no-no for leadership and one that proved even more embarrassing when the primary opponent turned out to be racist.
At the first in-person conference meeting following the outbreak of COVID, members erupted over Cheney breaking the rule about leadership not trying to oust members of her conference. She handled the criticism poorly, saying that Massie — from the more libertarian and anti-war side of the Republican Party — was a “special case.” That alarmed members who share his views, but it also alarmed the liberal members who wondered if they, too, could be viewed as “special cases” for failing to share Cheney’s views.
The Republican conference is always a bit more unruly than the Democrat conference. However, the loyalty afforded Republican leaders is based in part on a belief that leaders won’t sabotage incumbent members. It’s also based on respect for their fundraising and candidate recruitment.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy oversaw impressive candidate recruitment and fundraising for the 2020 cycle and it paid off. All 27 “toss-up” races in the Cook Political Report went Republican. The party picked up more than two dozen seats, and now has the highest number of women members in its history.
Particularly considering her role in leadership, Cheney’s been criticized for failing to help with candidate recruitment and fundraising. Cheney “lacks some of the popularity and fundraising prowess of other House Republicans,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal also claims Cheney is “respected” for “her willingness to break with Mr. Trump on foreign policy and national security issues.” In fact, that’s another problem for Cheney being in leadership. While D.C. establishment figures undoubtedly support Cheney for her neoconservative foreign policy views, those views are increasingly problematic from an electoral standpoint.
The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney worked at the State Department during the presidency of George W. Bush. While in Congress, Cheney has focused on pushing a Bush-era foreign policy, particularly in support of continuing the Afghanistan and Iraq wars indefinitely. Those old-timey neoconservative views have been increasingly rejected by Republican voters, and have previously shown to be toxic to all voters.
Other Leaders Need to Help Her Exit
The Republican Party is known for having a big tent and certainly Cheney is within the party’s big tent. But being in the party and being a leader of the party are two very different things. The other Republican leaders have been supportive of Cheney continuing in her role, perhaps hoping that more than 100 members can just move past one of their leaders joining with Pelosi in her effort to divide the Republican Party.
McCarthy and other leaders need to think toward the future. They should focus on finding a conference chair who is a better team player, with better results. Someone whose negatives don’t outweigh her positives. There is no reason to leave Cheney in that position. In fact, it’s negligence for Republicans to keep Cheney in that position.
The House Republican conference can tolerate a member who caters to the Democratic media complex in order to further her personal agenda. However, she can’t be in leadership. The party leadership must be unified in order to effectively fight against the left-wing assaults in the years to come.
This is a fraught time for the republic and for tens of millions of Americans. McCarthy, Scalise, and the other leaders of the House Republicans need to show some leadership on behalf of tens of millions of voters who are genuinely worried about the left’s assaults on the Constitution, the economy, and rule of law. Cheney miscalculated the wisdom of histrionically joining with Democrats in their latest stunt. She should step down. If she needs help to step down, she should be provided that help quickly.
Cheney spending more time back in Wyoming to get more acquainted with the voters she represents, rather than the D.C. peers she’s spent much of her life around, may be just what everyone needs.
Photo U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano