Caught on camera: Liz Cheney fist-bumps Biden before his speech

Jim Watson/Pool via AP

Boy, I dunno. She’s really in DGAF mode about her upcoming primary challenge, huh?

She didn’t need to be there last night, of course. And if she was intent on attending, she could have stayed away from the aisle to avoid a photo op like this one that’ll surely be used against her in her next election by MAGA types.

The only way this moment could have come about is if Cheney wanted it to. Which is curious, since her relationship with Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP leadership is already “very near a breaking point.”

She made sure to issue a statement afterward clarifying that she thinks Biden’s policies are bad for the country…

…but one of her primary challengers in Wyoming didn’t care:

I can’t come up with a strategic reason why she’d go on antagonizing MAGA fans, whether by continuing to criticize Trump when asked about him by reporters or fist-bumping Biden on his big night before Congress. Either she’s calculated that there’s no extra marginal cost to pissing them off since they’re already as motivated as they can be to beat her or she’s chucked strategy out the window and now views her standoff with Trump as a basic test of mettle. Apart from Adam Kinzinger, there’s no other Republican official who’s willing to speak critically about Trump when asked. Maybe Cheney’s decided that, having distinguished herself once already by voting to impeach, she’s going to distinguish herself again through her defiance of the party’s omerta about the former president’s flaws.

Trump dropped this statement on her a few days ago:

“Liz Cheney is polling sooo low in Wyoming, and has sooo little support, even from the Wyoming Republican Party, that she is looking for a way out of her Congressional race,” Trump said. “She’ll either be yet another lobbyist or maybe embarrass her family by running for President, in order to save face. This warmongering fool wants to stay in the Middle East and Afghanistan for another 19 years, but doesn’t consider the big picture—Russia and China!”

Cheney responded by calling that “wishful thinking,” then told reporters that she’s confident she’ll beat the Trumpers in her primary in 2022. And if they want to keep debating his role in the insurrection, bring it on:

Cheney told Punchbowl News that “whatever that primary looks like, whoever I’m going to be up against, I’m gonna fight hard and I’m not gonna take it for granted, but I anticipate that I’ll prevail.”

“I’m confident I’m gonna win,” the House Republican Conference chair added. “It’s gonna be, certainly, a challenging primary. I’m preparing for that right now.”…

“But I also think there are some pretty big constitutional issues at stake, and I think those are really important,” Cheney said. “So, anybody who wants to get in that race and who wants to do it on the basis of debating me about whether or not President Trump should have been impeached, I’ll have that debate every day of the week.”

I wonder how much of this is driven by pride. If she gets beat, she gets beat; that’s not within her control. But it is within her control not to bend a knee to someone she doesn’t respect for the sake of her career. Dick Cheney’s daughter is probably simply too proud to do that.

I’ll leave you with Donald Trump’s son amusing himself at the thought of a President Liz Cheney. That was always a long longshot but it’s a no-shot now that she’s alienated the MAGA wing of the party forever.