The NYT told us last week that this was coming and now here it is. Guy Benson wrote about it at the time in the Greenroom; I wrote my own post about the prospects of an Enzi/Cheney race back in April.
The vibe I’ve gotten from the comments and from other righty blogs over the last 10 days is that people are gung ho for her to take Enzi on. Candidly, I don’t understand why. Nothing against her; she’s obviously sharp and has lots of Beltway experience from advising her father over the years. I’m just not clear on why she’d necessarily be a significant upgrade over him. She’s known mainly for being a super-hawk in the mold of her dad, but super-hawkishness (as distinct from hawkishness) was, I thought, momentarily out of fashion among grassroots conservatives. McCain and Graham are the two Republicans in Congress most loathed by the base, in part because of their penchant for interventionism, but Cheney presumably will be right there with them on foreign policy in the Senate. Some people seem to want Enzi out because he’s a multi-term incumbent and the Senate needs “new blood,” but how new is the blood when the “insurgent” is the daughter of the last Republican VP? Someone joked on Twitter this afternoon after the news of her candidacy broke that we’re now in line for a new Bush/Cheney ticket in 2016 or 2020. Probably not, but we might be in line for a Bush/Clinton battle in 2016 with a Cheney in Congress stumping for the GOP side. If you’re okay with that, then okay. But that’s an odd definition of “new blood.”
The grassroots support for her is interesting to me, though, insofar as it suggests a broad Cheney exception to the general tea-party anti-establishment rule. There remains a reservoir of goodwill for Bush among the righty base partly because he’s personally gracious and partly because people on our side are naturally defensive about someone whom the left loathes to such an insane degree. The goodwill for Dick Cheney comes, in a way, from the opposite impulse — he knows the left hates him, doesn’t care even a tiny bit, and will stand firm on foreign policy even if the entire world’s against him. He’s a giant middle finger to the left, so he — and presumably Liz — get a pass on being Beltway mainstays. That’s how she can kinda sorta position herself as the grassroots upstart against the, ahem, Mike Enzi machine in Wyoming. (Minor footnote to that: Thanks to her connections, she’ll almost certainly raise much more money for this race than he will.) And the more other GOP establishment types side with Enzi against her in the name of protecting incumbency, which is already happening even among Bush administration figures, the more grassroots cred she’ll have.
Having said all that, the race will be loads of fun. And whether you like or dislike Cheney, there’s no way her floor debates with Rand Paul on foreign policy won’t be enjoyable if she wins. Paul, in fact, has already quasi-endorsed Enzi, so the “tea-party vote” will be complicated in Wyoming. Is the older, Paul-backed incumbent the tea-party choice? Or is the scion of a consummate GOP establishment figure the tea-party choice? Hmmmm.
Enzi reacts: "She said that if I ran, she wasn't going to run…I thought we were friends."
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) July 16, 2013