Club for Growth poll: Cheney's approval at 29/65 in Wyoming, 52% say they'll support her primary opponent

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Looks like she’s going to lose more than just her leadership position.

There was probably once a scenario in which she votes to impeach Trump on January 13, then clams up and sticks to attacking Biden and gets grudgingly reelected next fall despite Trump’s best efforts to the contrary. There isn’t a scenario in which she fist-bumps Biden before his quasi-SOTU speech and then goes on undermining Trump’s claims that the election was rigged every time she’s asked about them. And Cheney knew it. She undertook the course she’s on aware that it would push her out of government.

She and her staff have said repeatedly this week that she won’t lie for the sake of keeping her leadership position. For Cheney, it seems, that includes lies of commission *and* omission — that is, she won’t claim the election was rigged but she also won’t stand obediently silent when people around her say so.

That’s the difference between her and Elise Stefanik.

Don’t get too comfortable with the soon-to-be new conference chair, though. MAGA true believers know the difference between one of their own and poseurs who are pretending to be ardent Trumpers for the sake of career advancement. Stefanik will do in a pinch for the task of deposing Cheney but Trump’s allies in the House are already angling to replace her with a more genuine populist:

What a day it’ll be when the real MAGAs turn on the usurper-pretender.

Although Cheney seems resigned to telling the truth even at the price of her career, her allies in the donor class insist they’ll go on fighting for her — and may punish the party if it supports the effort to primary her next year:

Cheney, who represents the state of Wyoming, is unlikely to lose any of her major contributors even if she is ousted as an official leader within the House Republican caucus, according to donors who spoke to CNBC…

A Wall Street executive who gave to the Cheney committee in the latter stages of the quarter, told CNBC that individual corporate donors are going to flee the Republican Party if GOP leaders move against the Wyoming lawmaker. This person declined to be named in order to avoid retribution for speaking out against Trump.

“She’s one of the last hopes that the Republican Party hasn’t lost its mind. If she’s ostracized, a lot of people will go with her,” this financier said. “Corporate givers and lobbyists have to be strategic, but there’s a really important principle at stake with what happens to her.”

Republican populists don’t need the donor class’s money, though. One of the biggest fundraisers in the House in the first quarter this year was Marjorie Taylor Greene, who did it by getting grassroots donors to pony up. Josh Hawley also made bank after leading the effort to try to block Congress’s certification of Biden’s win. If anything, any GOP pol who goes all-in against Cheney and ends up being shunned by corporate America will advertise that fact in fundraising emails to MAGA populists and end up raising more money that way than they would have from large donors.

Biden was asked about the Cheney saga today and observed that it seems Republicans still don’t know what they stand for. I don’t know where he’s gotten that idea. If the House caucus were split evenly between Cheney and Trump factions, with McCarthy caught in the middle, *then* we would say that the GOP doesn’t know what it stands for. As it is, scrambling to punish one of the only Republicans in Congress willing to consistently call BS on “stop the steal” and the insurrection makes it all too clear what they stand for.

The lingering, possibly unanswerable question with Cheney is what she’s hoping to accomplish with all this. Occam’s Razor says the answer is “nothing.” She’s abandoned all strategic considerations and has decided that she’ll tell the truth about the election whenever she’s asked and accept the consequences with a clear conscience. Conceivably she’s concluded that if her caucus and her state’s voters find her position so noxious as to want to be rid of her then she doesn’t want to be involved with the party anymore anyway. If Trump runs for president again, though, Never Trumpers will scramble to find an alternative willing either to primary him or run to his right in the general election as an independent in hopes of siphoning off conservative votes. The latter would be a dangerous strategy if the Democratic nominee is a self-styled centrist like Biden, since some of those anti-Trump conservatives might be willing to support him over Trump. But if the nominee is perceived as being more left-wing, like Kamala Harris, then an anti-Trump conservative option to keep center-righties from grudgingly backing the GOP nominee begins to make more sense.

Maybe that’s what Cheney and the GOP’s ancien regime have planned for 2024, if only as a measure of revenge.

Speaking of which, here’s the most prominent member of the McCain family sharing her thoughts today on Cheney, McCarthy, and Trump.