Liz Cheney’s decision to co-chair the January 6 Commission set her on a path to political martyrdom and she’s ok with that according to an article out today in the New York Times. The closer the Republican primary in Wyoming moves on the calendar, the more aggressive her scorched earth actions become. Her latest salvo aimed at the Republican Party is to say that she “would find it very difficult” to support Ron DeSantis if he is the party’s presidential candidate in 2024.
Ms. Cheney suggested she was animated as much by Trumpism as Mr. Trump himself. She could support a Republican for president in 2024, she said, but her redline is a refusal to state clearly that Mr. Trump lost a legitimate election in 2020.
Asked if the ranks of off-limits candidates included Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, whom many Republicans have latched onto as a Trump alternative, she said she “would find it very difficult” to support Mr. DeSantis in a general election.
“I think that Ron DeSantis has lined himself up almost entirely with Donald Trump, and I think that’s very dangerous,” Ms. Cheney said.
DeSantis is supported by many Republicans who supported Trump’s policies and the successes he earned in his term as president but who are looking for an alternative who will not bring the daily drama that Trump relishes. A frequent description of DeSantis is that he is Trump without the baggage. Liz Cheney voted for Trump’s agenda 92.9% of the time. Clearly, it was the actions on January 6 that caused her to snap. She is not alone in that.
The Wyoming primary is scheduled for August 16. By all indications, Cheney is going to lose her bid for re-election and lose big. Harriet Hageman is endorsed by Trump and expected to win. Liz Cheney knows she is going to lose. She wants to make it clear, though, that she is a Republican and won’t be going the way of others and calling herself an Independent. The question now is what will Liz do next? There are rumblings that she is thinking about a 2024 run for the presidency. She will have to decide if she remains in the Republican Party and challenges Trump and DeSantis for the nomination or if she runs as a third-party candidate and tries to take votes away from Trump, and apparently, DeSantis.
She’s thrown in with Democrat women over supporting Republican women for the time being. She says she doesn’t agree with their politics but that they are doing what they think is right for the country. Cheney says that people want someone who is competent and that may be a woman.
In Cheyenne, she channeled the worries of “moms” and what she described as their hunger for “somebody’s who’s competent.” Having once largely scorned identity politics — Ms. Cheney was only the female lawmaker who wouldn’t pose for a picture of the women of Congress after 2018 — she now freely discusses gender and her perspective as a mother.
“These days, for the most part, men are running the world, and it is really not going that well,” she said in June when she spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
In a sign that Ms. Cheney’s political awakening goes beyond her contempt for Mr. Trump, she said she prefers the ranks of Democratic women with national security backgrounds to her party’s right flank.
“I would much rather serve with Mikie Sherrill and Chrissy Houlahan and Elissa Slotkin than Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, even though on substance certainly I have big disagreements with the Democratic women I just mentioned,” Ms. Cheney said in the interview. “But they love this country, they do their homework and they are people that are trying to do the right thing for the country.”
This is where she loses me. Sure, she’s freaked out about what happened on January 6 and she blames Trump for inciting the protesters. But she agreed to be a part of the Democrats’ production and be the big Republican catch for Pelosi by serving on the commission. If she was truly concerned about the Constitution and competence, she should have agreed to serve on the commission only if it was done as commissions have been done in the past – with members of both parties more or less equally represented. Instead, she moved forward with only Adam Kinzinger as a wingman. And, because of her willingness to play along with a partisan production, she is now relying on Democrats in Wyoming to vote for her in the primary. Democrats voting for a Cheney. Before January 6 and Pelosi’s show commission, that would have been unthinkable.
So, when Liz Cheney says she would find it difficult to support Ron DeSantis, she is turning her back on solid Republican policy. The person longing for a time when political parties argued about policy and worked together to solve problems now says she couldn’t support a potential solid Republican presidential candidate. It makes no sense. “What the country needs are serious people who are willing to engage in debates about policy,” Ms. Cheney said. That’s true, Liz. Here’s your mirror.
Cheney has changed from her earlier days in office.
It’s all a far cry from the Liz Cheney of a decade ago, who had a contract to appear regularly on Fox News and would use her perch as a guest host for Sean Hannity to present her unswerving conservative views and savage former President Barack Obama and Democrats.
Today, Ms. Cheney doesn’t concede specific regrets about helping to create the atmosphere that gave rise to Mr. Trump’s takeover of her party. She did, however, acknowledge a “reflexive partisanship that I have been guilty of” and noted Jan. 6 “demonstrated how dangerous that is.”
Cheney has chosen a curious way to end her political career. Instead of staying and working within the party to counter some of the more extreme members, she chose to turn to Democrats and works as one of them now. She chose to go to war with her party. Senator Cornyn sums it up well.
“It depends on if you want to go out in a blaze of glory and be ineffective or if you want to try to be effective,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who has his own future leadership aspirations. “I respect her but I wouldn’t have made the same choice.”
Liz Cheney overplayed her hand and now she’ll find herself out of office and no longer a part of the solution. That was her choice.