Liz Cheney, the Iron Lady of the GOP, and Her Attempt to Lead Republicans Out of the Trump Wilderness
“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.” -Rep. Liz Cheney, May 3, 2021
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” -Rep. Liz Cheney, January 12, 2021 (after the January 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol)
Congresswoman Liz Cheney may be booted from her leadership position in the U.S. House of Representatives by her own Republican caucus this week for stating the obvious and telling the truth.
Meanwhile, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who agreed with Cheney immediately after January 6, has done a u-turn to continue supporting the election lie that could very well undermine the integrity of future elections.
Even worse, he reportedly was warned in the days prior to January 6 that violence was possible. Now he’s punishing Cheney for her unwillingness to sweep that violence under the rug.
Much like Margaret Thatcher’s fierce condemnation of communism that resulted in the Russians nicknaming her the Iron Lady – a name Lady Thatcher embraced – Congresswoman Cheney stood up after the insurrection and voted with nine other House Republicans to impeach then-President Trump.
While many in the GOP continue to kowtow to Trump whose ongoing grip over the party remains months after he left office, others who initially stood up to him have now backed away from their own strongly-worded condemnations.
Meanwhile, Rep. Cheney has held firm in the true telling of events from that day. As a result, her leadership position is in jeopardy with a vote coming as early as Wednesday. For all her efforts to protect the country, the Republican party has turned up the heat on her removal.
Just for the record, Republican leadership in the House is #1 a man, Kevin McCarthy; #2 a man, Steve Scalise; and #3 a woman, Liz Cheney. What we have is #1 and #2 working in tandem to take out #3. And #3 is the only one who is standing up to Donald Trump while refusing to lie about an election that Trump lost and an insurrection that he emboldened.
Now #1 and #2 have endorsed a replacement for #3. McCarthy and Scalise have endorsed Elise Stefanik, a moderate New York Republican who is a Trump sycophant to replace Liz Cheney, a conservative who lines up with the traditional values and beliefs of the party.
So the lesson Republicans are teaching here is that political principles don’t matter but, rather, the intense siren call of power should guide you. As a result, the craven desire for power has corrupted the moral compass of many who feel beholden to Trump.
One could be forgiven for thinking that some GOP men only like Republican women to be in power when they are doing what the men dictate. When a woman “steps out of line” by thinking on her own, she may be shunned and threatened with removal from leadership.
After Rep. Cheney survived a secret vote on February 3 for her removal – the vote was 145-61 – this time it sounds like they have piled on against her. Tomorrow’s vote will tell.
Kevin McCarthy, whose ambition to become the next Speaker of the House if Republicans win the majority during the mid-terms is no secret to anyone, has in Biblical terms denied Ms. Cheney three times when in a position to support and defend her. She has been hung out to dry by GOP leadership.
For those who have been waiting for the next Margaret Chase Smith – the Republican U.S. Senator who went up against Joseph McCarthy at a time when most in her party were afraid of him – we have Liz Cheney who has stepped into Sen. Smith’s very big shoes.
In 1950 Sen. Smith famously said, “It is high time we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections and started thinking patriotically as Americans about national security based on individual freedom.” The remarks, known as her “Declaration of Conscience,” never mentioned Joseph McCarthy by name but it was abundantly clear to all who she was criticizing.
Rep. Cheney is from a Republican family – her father Dick Cheney was a congressman and President George W. Bush’s vice president. Cheney is a lifelong Republican and has a record of winning, as did her father.
And yet, with their loyalty firmly in place, the Republican Party wants Trump as their leader even as his failing poll numbers are hidden by House leadership from the general membership.
In those polls, “Trump’s unfavorable ratings were 15 points higher than his favorable ones, and nearly twice as many voters had a strongly unfavorable view of him than those who had a strongly favorable one. In those same districts, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were both more popular than Trump.”
Also keep in mind that most Republican elected officials privately admit Trump lost the 2020 presidential election but maintain the charade for a base that has been fed a steady diet of lies from Trump beginning before the election when he said a loss would be due to fraud.
When Trump lost by big numbers, he said it was due to fraud. He lost all recounts and said it was due to fraud. He lost more than 60 court challenges and said it was due to fraud. This all occurred during the safest and most watched election in decades, and Trump took a thumping. The results were not close.
And the violent January 6 insurrection at the Capitol is a figment of our imaginations, if we are to believe GOP elected officials who were actually in danger from the crowd that broke into and trashed the Capitol.
Gaslighting is happening in real time – you are not to believe that the violence, death, and destruction that unfolded on TV and in countless videos from insurgents actually happened. Nor are you to believe the Capitol police officers who were attacked.
Yet, somehow, it’s now Liz Cheney’s fault for stating the obvious (video). Insurrection happened. The capitol was attacked. The violent mob was made up of Donald J. Trump supporters. The MAGA mob was stirred to action by Trump as they chanted, “Hang Mike Pence,” while roaming the capitol hallways, and a hangman’s noose was set up on the capitol lawn.
Elected officials as well as congressional staff took refuge in closets, locked offices, bathrooms – anywhere they could find that would keep them safe from the hundreds of terrorizing Trump supporters surging through the capitol. The aggressive, frenzied crowd broke through windows and doors to enter the building, trashed congressional offices, and roamed the hallways looking for specific targets including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as Vice President Pence.
When reminded of this by principled people like Rep. Liz Cheney, Senator Mitt Romney, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the truth tellers are punished. The more outlandish representatives like Matt Gaetz, Lauren Bobert, and Marjorie Taylor Green are embraced because they have showboated to receive Trump’s blessing.
There’s a saying in politics that it’s a game of addition, not subtraction. The GOP is poised to subtract even more women from its ranks with this vote to remove Liz Cheney.
And Kevin McCarthy is kidding himself if he thinks Trump is going to save him from anything. He talks out both sides of his mouth, declaring that the GOP is a big tent that embraces free thought and debate, while calling for a vote to oust Rep. Cheney. McCarthy has proven to be myopic in his view of the Republican Party’s future.
Forget character and values – they are no longer wanted by many in the GOP who embraced a reality TV star who then took reality TV to America and turned the Republican Party into “Honey Boo-Boo.” History, I suspect, will not look kindly at this Republican saga.
History will look favorably on Congresswoman Liz Cheney who is standing her ground and refusing to carry the lies. Include me in Liz’s growing tent.
-The Washington Post: Opinion | The Big Lie has gotten so bad that even some Republicans are running from it
-The Washington Post: Opinion | Yes, it’s possible the GOP is worse post-Trump