Here’s the daily reminder that the GOP is not so much a party anymore as a contest to see who can polish Trump’s shoes to the finest mirror shine.
Cheney is the House Republican Conference chair and an almost singular example within the caucus of someone who’s willing to politely reprimand POTUS and his cronies from time to time. For instance, in May, after Fauci was grilled by Senate Republicans during testimony, she chimed in with some praise for him. She was a minor thorn in Trump’s side during his push this past spring to reopen the country after it was locked down and she had the audacity to suggest that Trump accusing Joe Scarborough of murdering a congressional intern wasn’t great politics in the middle of pandemic. Being a Cheney, she’s also naturally out of step with Trump on foreign policy and out of sync with the general populist wave that brought him to power. She’s a scion of the party’s ancien regime. Of course there’d be tension between her and the strongman who overthrew the nobility.
Why she makes a point of disagreeing with Trump knowing how it’s destined to annoy her caucus and her base is unclear. Maybe, a la Mitt Romney, she feels obliged as a matter of conscience to speak up from time to time. Or maybe it’s strategic: Cheney knows that Trump’s antics have poisoned the GOP’s chances in the suburbs, which means that a certain number of purple districts that should be competitive will end up going blue this year. Because she’s in a leadership role (and a rare example of a woman in a leadership role among congressional Republicans), speaking up is a small way she can try to counterprogram Trump for the benefit of the swing voters. Essentially it’s her way of showing them, “See, we’re not all like him. Don’t let your view of Trump determine your vote for the House.”