I’d need to have a think on that proposition before agreeing. America’s seen a lot of “bad hombres” in its history, to borrow a phrase from Trump himself.
But it’s true that only one person has gotten close to staging an honest-to-goodness coup.
“In case you still thought Rep. Liz Cheney’s goal is to win renomination to [the House] on 8/16, here’s the ad she just launched in a GOP primary in a 70% Trump state,” quipped Dave Wasserman about this new ad. Yeah, this is … not the sort of closing argument you air in Wyoming if you’re trying to win. It’s the polar opposite of what Democrat Tim Ryan is doing in Ohio, seizing every opportunity to ingratiate himself to his state’s Republican majority.
But Ryan has a slight chance to win. Cheney has no chance. And so, rather than pander pitifully and futilely to that end, she’s decided to let it rip and truthbomb her constituents instead.
With an assist from Darth Vader.
“In our nation’s 246 year history there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our Republic than Donald Trump.” Dick Cheney pic.twitter.com/erBPBNy8ah
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) August 4, 2022
I think there are several motivations here.
One is that it’s a legacy play. Dick Cheney is 81 years old and Liz Cheney’s political career will be over in months. Each is keen to note for the historical record that they were uncompromising in their opposition to Trump and authoritarianism.
Another is that it’s teeing up Liz’s primary challenge in 2024. When I say that her career is over, I mean that she’ll never hold office again — not that she’ll never seek office again. I think she’ll run two years from now so that Trump has at least one opponent for the duration of the campaign, starting with the primary, who’s devoted to making the case that he should never be president again.
But there’s also a third motive, and it shouldn’t be underestimated. I bet Dick Cheney felt great cutting this ad. Not only did Liz probably not have to ask him, I suspect that he asked her — and not just because he’s a thoughtful dad.
Remember Rusty Bowers? He’s the Speaker of the House in Arizona who ended up testifying before Cheney’s committee about Trump trying to pressure Arizona lawmakers to overturn the election. Naturally that earned him a grudge from the cult leader and MAGA. Bowers was up for Arizona’s state senate this year — and lost his primary, predictably, ending his career as well. You would think he’d be remorseful in the aftermath. You would be wrong.
Bowers was thoroughly trounced in Tuesday’s GOP primary, losing to a former state senator by nearly 2 to 1 among voters in his district in the eastern Phoenix suburbs. He was trying to move to the Senate after term limits barred another state House run.
Bowers knew his seat was on the line and said he had no regrets for standing up to Trump.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” he said Wednesday. “I’d do it 50 times in a row.”…
“President Trump is a dividing force that has thrashed our party,” he told The Associated Press. “And it’s not enough to disagree. You have to disagree and then stomp on people and ruin their reputations and chase them down and thrash them and you just keep beating them up. That’s the Trump model.”
I believe him. I believe Peter Meijer too when he says he has no regrets about his impeachment vote despite having lost his primary this week. These guys were tested in a way few ever are, forced to choose in an intense public spotlight between the rewards of rolling over for a demagogue and doing the right thing at the price of losing their jobs and having their families threatened.
They did the noble thing. And in so doing, I’ll bet each of them learned something revelatory about his character that he didn’t know before. No one knows how they’ll handle a mob until one shows up and starts making demands; we’d all like to think we’d resist, but you can count the number of House Republicans who were willing to vote for impeachment on two hands. Meijer had the nerve to cast that vote. Bowers had the nerve to testify. Trump beat them, but he couldn’t get what he wanted from either of them. They stared down the bully. They proved their manhood and their civic virtue. And they’ll be remembered well for it.
I think the Cheney ad is driven by the same impulse. There’s no “strategy” to it. It’s simply an opportunity for Dick and Liz to deny Trump the satisfaction of ever seeing them grovel for his favor, even when they have every electoral incentive to do so. I bet the elder Cheney was downright giddy after he filmed it. Or, uh, as giddy as Dick Cheney can conceivably be.