John wrote here about the prospect of a Liz Cheney challenge to incumbent Republican Senator Mike Enzi. John presents general views on when a challenge to a Republican incumbent should be welcomed by conservatives, and, applying this analysis, he concludes that a Chaney challenge is not welcome.
I mostly agree with John’s general analysis, but find myself in the unusual position of disagreeing with him about this specific case.
I’m happy that Liz Cheney has entered the race. I have two reasons. First, I want her voice in the Senate to articulate her sound positions on national security and foreign policy. Second, it seems unlikely that her challenge will cost Republicans a seat in conservative Wyoming.
The first point is key for me. As I see it, the Republican party, and conservatism as well, is in the midst of a potentially momentous debate about national security and foreign policy. On one end of the spectrum, we have the Dick Cheney/Liz Cheney hard-nose national security and internationalist (but American determined) foreign policy school that prevailed during the Bush-Cheney years. At the other end, we find the Ron Paul/Rand Paul school. (There are, of course, many positions in between).
Recently, the Paulists seem to have progress at the expense of the Cheneyites. Since I’m about 90 percent over towards the Cheney end of the spectrum, I’m naturally receptive to Liz Cheney’s candidacy.
I don’t suggest that Mike Enzi is a Paulite or even that he’s unsound on national security and foreign policy. But he’s not Liz Cheney, and it is no accident that Rand Paul says “I’ll do anything I can” to help Enzi stave off the Cheney challenge. Nor is Paul supporting Enzi out of deference to Senate “old boys.”
The national security and foreign policy hardliners are badly in need of Senate reinforcements. Right now, the “three amigos” — John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte — take the leading role. But McCain is too erratic and simplistic, Graham too untrustworthy, and Ayotte too much the junior partner.
Accordingly, I believe the Senate needs a new vanguard led by Liz Cheney and Tom Cotton. But Tom may not run and if he does, may not win.
So welcome to the race, Liz Cheney.