Liz Cheney may well run for president; this should horrify liberals who, instead, beam proudly at their adopted, conservative daughter.
Cheney is about to lose her seat in the House. Polls indicate that Cheney is lagging severely in Wyoming’s GOP primary. Yet Cheney remains in an advantageous position, in which a loss is not necessarily a loss. In losing, Cheney will become a bona fide martyr. She’ll be framed as the rare GOP politician who had the courage to risk everything and to stand up to Trump – losing her occupation in the process. Left wingers and moderates, still so fixated on Trump that they consider any defiance of Trump sufficient to absolve all sins, will rally further to Cheney’s cause despite her deeply conservative ideology. So, in dying on her own sword, Cheney may lose Wyoming’s most conservative constituents – and gain a broader national support group.
John Harris, a founding editor at POLITICO, believes Cheney may be able to pivot out from a congressional defeat, toward a presidential campaign. “A few days from now, [Cheney] will deliver the most consequential speech of her career to date,” Harris wrote. “Rhetorically, the assignment is clear: Accept defeat while sounding like a winner. More specifically, Cheney needs to signal that the loss of her Wyoming House seat in a GOP primary is in no way the end of her career, but the opening of a new phase in which she intends to be one of the most important people in American political life. She needs to invite the audience to imagine that they are not listening to a soon-to-be-former congresswoman but instead to a possible future president.”
Harris isn’t the only one proposing a Cheney presidential run. CNN’s go-to politics guy, Chris Cillizza asked last fall “Is Liz Cheney going to run for president?” Cillizza believed that Cheney was stoking speculation that she may run for president. “Cheney left the door wide open to a presidential bid in 2024. “I’m not ruling anything in or out – ever is a long time,” she told the New York Post.”
What’s so concerning about Harris and Cillizza’s assessments is that they are devoid of criticism. Quite the opposite. “Cheney has not backed down in the face of Trump’s bluster,” Cillizza wrote. “What Cheney may be betting on is that…she will emerge in GOP circles as the one who slayed the Trump dragon – walking and talking evidence that standing up to the former president doesn’t have to be a death knell for a Republican elected official.”
The left’s embrace of Liz Cheney is a direct result of fixating so squarely on Donald Trump. The left, for which politics begin and end with Trump, are all-in with Cheney simply on account of her having stood up to Trump. Cillizza, operating with CNN’s massive platform, is a good example. Mother Jones, one of the nation’s most reliably progressive publications, recently named Liz Cheney one of their heroes of 2021. The LA Times named Cheney one of their heroes of July 4th (alongside Cassidy Hutchinson). NPR and MSNBC happily and regularly amplify Cheney’s message.
The reasons behind the left’s embrace of Cheney are obvious; she validates what they’ve been saying for years, that Trump is democracy’s biggest threat – and she does so with the credibility of a hardcore conservative. The problem is that in embracing and promoting Cheney on account of her Never Trump stance, the left is elevating her general ideology – which is mostly repulsive.
Political scientist Lawrence R. Jacobs once said “Cheney is an arch-conservative. She’s a hard-edged, small government, lower taxes figure and a leading voice on national defense.” Journalist Jake Bernstein agreed, stating that “Liz Cheney is a true conservative in every sense of the word and she’s only moderate in relation to the radicalism that has seized the Republican party.”
Undoubtedly, Cheney is a neoconservative hawk. She was opposed to Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, which of course was a twenty-year war that her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, had helped launch; she has even continued to promote the idea that there was a connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq – the falsified pretext upon which Dick Cheney constructed the Iraq invasion; she voted against repealing the 2002 Authorization of Military Force – another unfortunate vestige of the Bush-Cheney years; she has supported the use of torture; she opposes the no-first-use nuclear policy; she opposed the JCPOA. Liz Cheney is her father’s daughter.
Cheney’s problematic record extends beyond foreign policy. During Cheney’s 2013 Senate campaign, she opposed same-sex marriage, becoming estranged from her lesbian sister Mary in the process (Liz later recanted). Cheney also refused to denounce the “birther” conspiracy that claimed Barack Obama was not born in America (and which marked Donald Trump’s entrance in the political arena).
The left would do well to appreciate that Cheney’s defiance of Trump won’t be relevant once she’s in the Oval. Although, as president, Cheney would dictate US foreign policy – a horrifying premise.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.