The sad Dan Crenshaw "I don't support Liz Cheney" video

Am I giving this guy too much credit by thinking that he doesn’t really mean this?

By “this,” I mean the part where he yammers about Cheney having gone off the deep end by using her time in the House minority to do something productive for the country, like exposing a coup attempt, instead of sitting around cutting videos for Twitter. I find it hard to believe that Dan Crenshaw, patriotic American and bona fide war hero, thinks the members of the January 6 committee have gone off the deep end more so than the subject of their investigation has.

Either way, whether he’s sincere or just pandering, it’s pitiful.

He’s referring (I think) to this tweet, which he posted on the day of the House impeachment vote in 2021, not recently:

Apparently he’s changed his opinion of her since then. It’s not clear why.

“It seems like Dan Crenshaw doesn’t know who he is or what he stands for. It sort of depends on which day you catch him. It’s very Nikki Haley-esque,” said Matt Lewis about this clip. It’s true! Like Haley, Crenshaw has somehow carved out a niche for himself within the party in which he’s disliked by both poles. The MAGAs distrust him because of his hawkishness, with Tucker Carlson having taken to calling him “Eyepatch McCain.” The contempt is mutual, as Crenshaw made clear in an interview this week:

Nothing made me angrier than watching Tucker Carlson have the nerve to even criticize Joe Biden [over withdrawing from Afghanistan] because Joe Biden did exactly what Tucker Carlson wanted him to do exactly to the T. Pull out everybody right now, you know, no ifs, ands, or buts, no middle ground whatsoever. Not even Trump was, I think, thinking of doing that, you know, we would’ve at least left people in Bagram.

They’ve [i.e. isolationists] been wrong on every front and it’s getting dangerous. You start to lose people in this kind of situation and you, you can’t have this naive outlook of the world.

He’s clashed repeatedly with GOP populists over the past 18 months. Just last week he cringed at some of the rhetoric coming from Trumpers over the Mar-a-Lago search: “I’m impressed Democrats finally got us to say, ‘Defund the FBI.’ That makes you look unserious, when you start talking like that.” That led to a round of verbal sparring between him and Marjorie Taylor Greene, and not for the first time. In the past Crenshaw has also jabbed at the bombthrowers in the House Freedom Caucus, warning GOP audiences to watch out for the “grifters in our midst.” And last year he was confronted by an election truther at a fundraiser and shut the guy down, telling him that he’s kidding himself if the thinks the elections in five different swing states were rigged.

Seems pretty establishment-y. But wait.

Crenshaw’s also the guy who just put out the video above, making very clear that he wants nothing to do with off-the-deep-end Liz Cheney. He also signed the House legal brief supporting the Texas lawsuit in December 2020 that would have overturned the presidential election if SCOTUS had ruled in Texas’s favor. He voted against impeaching Trump — twice; he voted against creating a January 6 commission; he voted against holding Steve Bannon in contempt for defying a committee subpoena. As such, Never Trumpers have no use for him, viewing him as a major political disappointment in light of the comparative courage he displayed on the battlefield. Evidently even a SEAL who’ll face down the Taliban will turn tail and run when confronted with the prospect of Donald Trump being mad at him.

Here’s the thing about Crenshaw, though. Having pissed off MAGAs and Never Trumpers, you might think he’s now skating on thin ice electorally. If the populists are voting for your opponents and the RINOs are boycotting your elections in disgust, which voters are you winning, exactly?

Answer: Uh, pretty much everyone else, which is something like 60-80 percent of the party. Despite his many enemies within the party, Dan Crenshaw killed it in his primary this year, pulling in nearly 75 percent of the vote. Somehow, despite the fact that he’s Very Online enough to be posting videos on Twitter renouncing Liz Cheney and all of her Satanic works, he seems to have assembled a large constituency back home of Not Very Online normie voters who like him just fine. The Nikki Haley half-populist/half-establishment thing is working for him, in other words, with his Trump-pleasing votes in the House apparently keeping the MAGA-leaning voters happy while his sporadic scolding of populist excesses satisfies the center-righties.

The fact that he’s a war hero probably doesn’t hurt either.

Whether any of this would catch up to him if he ever runs for governor or Senate, I don’t know. It’s hard to imagine a guy who’s derided as the second coming of John McCain by Trumpers winning a statewide primary in a state like Texas. But now that he’s checked the “I too hate the person who’s holding Trump accountable for trying to stage a coup” box, maybe he’s viable? I’d certainly rather have him in the upper chamber than Ted Cruz.

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David Strom 4:01 PM on October 05, 2022