Rep. Liz Cheney seems destined to lose her position in the GOP House leadership. One could almost infer from her actions that she’s determined to lose it.
The mainstream media is playing Cheney’s likely ouster for all its worth. Cheney is now portrayed as a hero who is too good for the current, Trump-dominated Republican Party. (These are some of the same lefty media stalwarts who portrayed Cheney’s father as evil, the way they now depict Donald Trump.)
Some conservatives are advancing a similar view of Liz Cheney’s situation. They acknowledge that her vote to impeach Trump and her subsequent anti-Trump screeds make her less than suitable for a leadership position in this GOP caucus. However, they contend that this reality damns the caucus.
Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru puncture that narrative. Lowry points out that Cheney survived her vote to impeach Trump, a fact that can’t easily be reconciled with claims that the caucus is in the thrall of Donald Trump.
It’s not the impeachment vote that will likely cost Cheney her position, it’s her constant stream of anti-Trump pronouncements. As Lowry puts it, “all [Cheney] had to do was be a little politic — something often required of politicians — and she wouldn’t be on the verge of getting dumped from leadership.” I would add that being “a little politic” is almost always a requirement for members of leadership.
Ponnuru reinforces Lowry’s point. He notes that “it’s not MAGA Republicans in the House who are forcing Representative Liz Cheney out of leadership.” Rather, “it’s Republicans who aren’t especially fond of. . .Trump but want to stop talking about him.” They want to minimize intra-party feuding, while hoping Trump fades away.
Cheney takes a very different approach. She does so, I assume, either because she thinks Trump won’t fade away and needs to be pushed or because, regardless of whether Trump would fade away, her conscience demands that he be denounced constantly.
The view that Trump won’t fade away might well be correct. I fear that it is.
However, if this is Cheney’s reason for constantly denouncing him, then her clash with the core of the GOP caucus isn’t about principle. Rather, it’s a disagreement about tactics. The caucus is entitled to be led solely by those who share its views on key tactics.
If, on the other hand, Cheney’s attacks on Trump are about conscience — tactics be damned — then she deserves admiration, but not a spot in leadership. Top positions in the caucus should be reserved for those whose actions are largely driven by tactics (for the “politic,” to use Lowry’s word), not for firebrands pursuing their own conscience-driven agenda.
I’ve always respected Liz Cheney. I think her vote to impeach Trump was defensible, though probably not correct. It doesn’t bother me that she continues to criticize Trump in no uncertain terms.
However, Cheney can’t expect to do so and hold down a leadership position in a caucus that, for reasons of political calculation, doesn’t want to go in a stridently anti-Trump direction. Nor should the caucus be condemned at this juncture for not wanting, as a matter of tactics, to go in that direction.
Time will tell who has the tactics right or whether there is any good tactic available to the GOP when it comes to Donald Trump.