With Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell having congratulated Joe Biden on his ostensible “victory,” the usual suspects in the establishment are licking their chops under the delusion that the GOP has any national viability absent Trump and the agenda he ran on in 2016. Toward this end, there is already a struggle for leadership underway within the Republican party, both literally and ideologically. And Washington’s toxic, failing establishment already knows who it wants to win: Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of George W. Bush’s vice president. This cannot be allowed to happen.
Liz Cheney is the older of Dick’s two daughters, and has been Wyoming’s sole House representative for the past four years. After less than four years in Washington Cheney had already become Chair of the House Republican Conference, effectively the number three Republican behind Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise. Cheney turned down a chance to become one of Wyoming’s two senators this fall, indicating that she has her eyes set on becoming Speaker of the House.
Washington is eager to help her get there. Even before November 3, Beltway press were hyping up Cheney as the GOP’s future.
“‘She Kind of Reminds You of Margaret Thatcher’: Liz Cheney Prepares To Make Her Move” raved a November 1 headline on Politico:
Behind her veneer of support for President Trump—she votes with him “something like 97 percent of the time,” she bragged on “Fox & Friends” in July—there’s a far harsher reality: Many of her and her father’s closest friends and ideological allies have become the most virulent Trump critics. The large group, which includes former national security adviser John Bolton, Steve Schmidt, Steve Hayes, Bill Kristol, and Jennifer Rubin, are rooting for Liz to restore their brand of conservatism after Trump.
If any sentence should send chills down the spines of actual pro-American patriots, it’s that one. The article is littered with quotes promising that, once Cheney has control of the GOP, it will return to the suicidal policies of the Bush era:
Schmidt, the former counselor to Dick Cheney and adviser to John McCain who has become a prominent Trump critic, said, “If there’s a resurgence of conservatism as a functioning political philosophy in this country, Liz Cheney is as good a bet as anybody to be a leader in that. Liz Cheney is certainly not going to be a person over the next 20 years who’s fighting to advance nationalism and populism.”
Neil Patel, who worked under Dick Cheney for all eight years of the Bush administration and was his chief policy adviser in the second term, said: “When I say she’s like her dad, it’s both in personality and in policy.”
Cheney has proven Patel right even in the last few days. In the waning days of the Trump administration she has stepped up as a champion of the Deep State, and its war on anybody who would expose its secrets. While many (including Revolver) have called for President Trump to pardon Edward Snowden, Cheney denounced the idea on Sunday as “unconscionable.”
Edward Snowden is a traitor.
He is responsible for the largest and most damaging release of classified info in US history.
He handed over US secrets to Russian and Chinese intelligence putting our troops and our nation at risk.
Pardoning him would be unconscionable.
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) December 13, 2020
Of course, Cheney has it backwards. What is “unconscionable” is that Snowden has spent so long as a fugitive in the first place, for the crime of revealing the NSA’s spying against American citizens (spying later found to be illegal by the courts). Meanwhile, James Clapper, who lied about this spying in front of Congress, has never faced a single indictment. Instead, he became a paid contributor to CNN and is treated as a respected expert. For Liz Cheney, corrupt former spooks receiving sinecures isn’t corruption. It’s just the proper order of things.
The reality, of course, is that Cheney’s own disgraced father put far more American lives at risk than Edward Snowden did. The pointless Iraq War alone claimed the lives of 4,500 troops, which is 4,500 more troops than Snowden ever killed.
Cheney can’t be blamed for the war her father caused. But she absolutely must be blamed for failing to learn anything from that war, and acting to bring about more wars like it.
This Cheney took the lead ramming through a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that completely ignores President Trump’s request, in favor of a bill that makes Democrats happy. The NDAA includes nothing to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which the president has asked for, but it does order the renaming of historic bases named for Confederates. The bill also prohibits President Trump from withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Germany, or South Korea unless major hurdles are overcome. In short, it’s a defense bill for Democrats and backers of the forever wars. When President Trump threatened a veto, Cheney replied by calling for the veto to be overridden.
It’s no surprise that Cheney wants U.S. troops stuck forever in foreign countries. In July, Cheney collaborated with Democrats to pass an amendment restricting President Trump’s ability to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan. Cheney said the amendment was “based on what’s required for our own security.”
Only America could have a foreign policy elite so inept that brainless statements pass for statesmanship. Keeping thousands of U.S. troops perpetually in Afghanistan does literally nothing to help U.S. security. It only hurts it, by putting American troops in danger, putting the U.S. deeper in debt, and keeping the U.S. stuck in the Middle East’s incessant conflicts. America has no reason to keep troops there. Afghanistan is not a strategic location. It produces no raw materials critical to America’s well-being. The war there is endless, mindless, and pointless, a hideous tribute to the sunk-cost fallacy in action. To put things another way: It is a war that China wants America to keep fighting. Every day that it continues makes America a weaker country.
For her entire rise through the ranks of the GOP, Cheney has made it clear that she doesn’t understand how the party, or the country, has changed since the days when her father was vice president. In 2019, she joined the mainstream media’s hysterical meltdown over the Kurds in northern Syria:
News from Syria is sickening. Turkish troops preparing to invade Syria from the north, Russian-backed forces from the south, ISIS fighters attacking Raqqa. Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) October 9, 2019
Cheney’s tweet belongs in a hall of fame for hyperventilating neoconservatism. Turkey is a fellow member of NATO, one that actively hosts U.S. airbases and nuclear weapons. ISIS has been a functional non-entity since 2017. The notion that hundreds or even thousands of U.S. troops belong in Syria ward off the return of ISIS or a Turkish genocide is a gross fantasy that makes sense only within the warped minds of the U.S. foreign policy elite, which has never seen a military intervention it didn’t like and routinely invents new ones that America should join.
Cheney’s hawkishness is her worst trait, but not her only flaw as a party leader. Cheney has also been a major defender of Anthony Fauci’s shoot-from-the-hip coronavirus response, and participated in the public shaming campaign to get Americans wearing masks (an obligation that will apparently last until the heat death of the universe, now that it has been imposed).
All of that is Liz Cheney in a nutshell, then: A leadership bid built completely on reviving the 2004 Republican Party of Middle Eastern wars, NSA surveillance, cratering to the left’s values, and wasting whatever wealth and freedom of action America still has left.
Liz Cheney has no constituency within the modern GOP base. She has no vision for America, other than the catastrophic one espoused by her father and President Bush. The only reason to have Liz Cheney prominent in American politics at all is to show how debased our ruling class has become, by allowing the disgraced Cheney name to return to prominence. But make no mistake: Washington wants that to happen. Creatures like The Lincoln Project’s Steve Schmidt are clearly angling for it to happen, by tearing down everyone else:
They are all across the line of no return. They have betrayed our country and their oaths with their seditious actions. @Liz_Cheney is the Conservative leader of the House. Kevin McCarthy is the Autocratic leader. He is unfit to ever be in the line of succession as Speaker. https://t.co/6bUKop3HGE
— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) December 11, 2020
We already know how this story ends: In 2006 and 2008, George W. Bush Republicanism led the conservative movement into disaster. It wasn’t just a matter of the Great Recession, or the unpopular Iraq War. George W. Bush let illegal immigrants flood into the country while doing little to stop them (even though Democrats, at the time, still pretended to care about the border). He let Americans fall into debt and drug use while manufacturing jobs shipped overseas by the millions. The end result was wholly deserved: Republicans were crushed at the ballot box, and for one year Democrats even enjoyed a filibuster-proof Senate majority. Only internal divides within the party kept them from remaking America completely.
No serious conservative wants to return to the Bush era. But for Bill Kristol, Steve Schmidt, and Liz Cheney herself, the Bush administration was a Golden Age. Now they see a Cheney speakership as a way to revive this dead brand of conservatism. Republican voters must stand against this effort to turn their party back into a neoconservative plaything. Either the GOP belongs to Trump and the 70+ million Americans who voted for him, or it is a worthless institution fit only for destruction. The GOP establishment would do well to understand this and choose wisely. We’re watching.