When Liz Cheney speaks…. No one listens.
Well, to be fair, there are a few people who lend an ear, but they’re not the ones who matter in today’s Republican politics. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, certainly provides Liz her attention, but only to the degree that the soon-to-be former congresswoman from flyover high country (a.k.a. Wyoming) is eager to badmouth former president Donald Trump, his MAGA agenda, and more recently, conservative candidates like Arizona’s Kari Lake who not only still love Trump, they promote him unabashedly and without fear of offending sensitive liberal political waifs.
Then there’s Cheney’s fellow hangers-on in the Never Trump hemisphere, a set of politically terminally ill pols and whiners who can’t figure out, for the life of them, why so many tens of millions of Americans continue to hold Trump in such high regard. Some of the malcontents were fired from their conservative jobs, others retired and still others (like Bill Kristol) went begging to rich Trump-hater benefactors and started up their own publications that no one reads.
To this type of wayward soul, Liz Cheney is a hero. Liz is one of ten Republicans who voted with Pelosi to impeach Trump a second time last year, and she and eight others will not be returning to the House next January. If Republicans win back the majority in a couple weeks as expected, this essentially means the Never Trump movement (if you can call it that) won’t have anyone close to power. Evan McMullin (did he borrow his brand from the Egg McMuffin?) could pull off a very unlikely upset in Utah – and hence be an authentic Never Trump “independent” senator – but the space alien-looking cue ball bald man’s chances aren’t stellar.
So, with her platform yanked from beneath her, Cheney will need a new party or new financial backers to get someone to listen to her from that day on. Does anyone feel sympathy for Liz’s unfortunate plight? Her desperate mission to split Republicans crashed and burned. In a piece titled “Liz Cheney’s Plan To Divide The Republican Party Has Failed”, the nearly always right conservative commentator Mollie Hemingway wrote at The Federalist:
“Separating Republican officials from their growing coalition of voters and the issues they care about has been the Washington establishment’s goal for several years now. The ‘divide and conquer’ plan is being run by the Democrat Party, its propaganda press, and former leaders of the Republican Party such as Liz Cheney, who see how the GOP’s new composition and approach has threatened or destroyed their hold on power.
“The D.C. partnership has worked overtime to try to marginalize, demonize, and make toxic those Republicans who don’t follow the establishment’s rules for how supposedly good Republicans, like Mitt Romney, act. They have been running the Jan. 6 show trial and warning Republicans in office to oppose many of the nominees that Republican voters selected during the primary season. These Beltway denizens watched in horror in recent weeks as Republican leaders have done the opposite, descending on tight races throughout the country to help all Republican candidates, not just those viewed as non-threatening to the D.C. establishment…
“Cheney will of course continue her war against the Republican Party that rejected her foreign policy, but even fewer people will support it after her string of failures in the last two years. Try as she might to tear it apart, the Republican Party is strong — and unified against divisive partisans like Cheney and her establishment friends.”
Yes indeed. Having followed politics since I was old enough to know what a political convention was – in 1976 – it’s hard to recall a time when the Republican Party has been more united than it is now. After soundly defeating the GOP establishment ruling class to first win the party’s presidential nomination and then the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan enjoyed the backing of both the powerful elites and the grassroots for the remainder of his days as president.
It was only when Reagan left Washington that the GOP began fracturing because of “read my lips, no new taxes” George H.W. Bush and the wishy-washy cheap labor-loving big business establishment swamp contingent in Washington. Now, with Trump as the figurehead, Republicans are pretty darn united – and that’s a good thing going into the federal midterm balloting.
Beyond that, it’s no big secret as to why Liz Cheney didn’t succeed in her mission to get Republicans to turn on each other, and the reason has only tangential connections to Donald Trump himself. While Trump was and continues to be the main topic of conversation among establishment Republicans and the pundit class from both parties -- and a surefire way to spice up an otherwise dull dinner party with a diverse (in terms of current events viewpoints) guest list -- the former chief executive doesn’t equate to the be-all-end-all of political discussions in the conservative world.
I find these days, when talking with fellow conservative friends or family members, the flow of ideas almost always leads away from Trump as though informed people fear the topic will cause an argument. Trump’s presence has been explored upwards, downwards, sideways, upside down and back and forth. There really isn’t a lot to talk about in reference to the man any longer and there probably won’t be until after the midterm elections and the day when he declares his intention to run again.
This general cooling off on Trump wasn’t anticipated by Cheney and her ilk.
Cheney counted on Republicans remaining fixated on January 6, 2021 and its aftermath. She and her establishment kind figured the imagery from that day – and subsequent highly filtered revelations that Trump was deeply involved in perpetuating the melee if not choreographing it directly from the Oval Office after his speech – would keep good folks sufficiently ticked off and affronted that they wouldn’t even want to hear Trump’s name again, much less consider him the ongoing leader of the GOP.
No, Liz and her Never Trump cohorts wagered that they would re-assume the mantle of purveyors of establishment Republican-ism and everything would go back to the days before Trump even declared himself a presidential candidate. People would “open their eyes” and realize the Trump years were a horrible nightmare and conservatives would relish the opportunity to “return to normal” and favor “statesmen” like Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan or John Boehner or John McCain as the authentic leaders of the GOP.
Naturally, Liz hoped that finally driving Donald Trump from American politics would basically revive the reputation of the George W. Bush administration and her father’s participation in it. Republicans would again gleefully embrace the chance to spread “democracy” all over the globe and make Vladimir Putin the arch-fiend nemesis, second to none. These poor misguided neoconservative fools would dig deep into their bag of tricks and bring back the “purple fingers” from the election in Iraq as proof that military adventurism makes for shiny, happy people and terrific outcomes outside of the standard political debate.
Yeah, forget about all those tens of thousands of killed and maimed U.S. service personnel who sacrificed for basically nothing, and the trillions of dollars dumped into trying to mold the Islamic world into something the folks in Peoria would recognize and emulate. And those hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan? Just “collateral damage” that’s not even reported on the evening news!
Liz badly miscalculated the mood of Republicans for going back to this line of Bush/Cheney thinking. The Bush-ians were also big government Republicans, another thing that’s gone out of fashion with the post-Tea Party constitutional limited government true believers. It’s almost as though today’s mainstream Republicans have little in common with the dominant wing of the party from a decade ago. To my recollection, all but Ron Paul in the 2012 GOP candidate field were rubber stamps for interventionist foreign policy.
Trump changed that, but much of the current Republican comity stems from the anti-unifying figures of senile Joe Biden, cackling old crone Nancy Pelosi, nasally, arrogant and obnoxious “Chucky” Schumer and assorted personalities in the Democrat party. These aren’t people that anyone would want to invite to a baby shower or graduation celebration. Contemporary liberals made themselves unwelcome to “normal” people by lecturing on traditional values, propping up “woke” causes and lying through their teeth on policy matters.
You could make a good argument that no one is responsible for bringing Republicans together more than Joe Biden, or Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama themselves. Republicans and Democrats no longer split tickets because Americans don’t feel a kinship with members of the “other side”. To most folks, it’s more than disagreeing on tax rates and the size of government.
It’s an entire value system that’s at stake.
Liz Cheney must not be too smart, because she’s consistently lumped herself in with the losing side. She either didn’t see it coming or chose to actively resist the alterations being made from within her own party. Gone were the days when business interests controlled everything through their K Street lobbying operations. The “average” people were no longer content with a Washington-centered power structure and decision-making apparatus.
Big corporations turned “woke” as did social media and big tech (or is it the other way around?). The board of directors of these companies were Democrats, not country club Republicans. The notion of “free trade” became discredited. Americans wanted their politicians to put them first. And that’s what Donald Trump did.
It’s safe to say Liz Cheney made a lot of mistakes in the days and weeks after the 2020 election, but no goof was larger than her pitiful effort to try and pit Republicans against each other over support or opposition to Donald Trump. Liz is even predicting that a new conservative party will form in the near future; one can only surmise that it will never happen. No one listens to Liz.
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