It is hard to imagine a political fall so far so fast. But then it is harder still to imagine a plunge so willful and unrepentant, featuring a sense of denial so stubborn that no public repudiation brings clarity.
But such is the power of Trump hatred, and such is the political death of Liz Cheney.
Her sad charade is over. She may not know it, but it is. After being booted from Wyoming’s only seat in the House of Representatives, she continues to spew hatred at the voters who showed her the door. They are gullible rubes for failing to hate Trump as she does, and terrorist sympathizers for failing to see the criminality her failed January 6th committee has yet to wrap around him.
And as for the rest of you across America who do not view the 45th President as a threat to the fabric of our very Republic? You are either too stupid to appreciate her insights or too susceptible to his evil wiles.
And her Republican colleagues, many of whom may or may not be fans of Trump, some of whom may vocally favor Ron DeSantis or another standard-bearer moving forward? There is only one bar: Any stance short of condemnation of Trump is abrogation of duty; only her dogged pursuit of Trump’s ruin is evidence of fidelity to the Constitution, or proof of patriotism itself. And the only proper attitude for any American to express about the dubious 2020 election is full fawning acceptance.
It took a lot to topple Liz Cheney’s brand. Years of smart and effective commentary led to a natural ascendancy to Congress. With her family name and high positives, she could be found on the buzz list for first woman President.
Now she is on another list—the forlorn roll of Republicans who have allowed hatred of Trump to consume them. Some chose not to run for re-election; some have suffered similar fates at the hands of disapproving primary voters. But none have mortgaged such promise as the daughter of Dick Cheney. His video in the last gasping days of her campaign featured his incomprehensible claim that barring Trump from future office is the most important thing she would ever do, because he is the most serious threat to democracy in the nation’s 246 years.
This is a man who once helped America fight actual evil. This is a former Defense Secretary and Vice President who saw genuine threats to our nation, from communists to terrorists, and strove to protect us. And now Trump is an unsurpassed threat? Perhaps this was an 81-year-old father parroting his daughter’s ravings in a last-ditch attempt to save her election. But probably not.
In that history of Cheney-style approaches to global threats, we can find the likely source of the family’s dark fixation with Trump, and the Bush family’s similar compulsion. While millions of Americans have weaned away from original appreciation of the twenty-plus years of “war on terror,” Trump had little use for it at any time. He ruffled many conservative feathers years before his own presidential bid, calling into question the wisdom of expanding American lives and countless dollars on Bush-Cheney style attempts to normalize the radical hellscapes of the Middle East.
He was ahead of the Republican curve in that regard. Today’s GOP features divergent opinions on the legacy of our deployments since 9/11, but gone are the days of embracing eternal wars without question. The Cheney and Bush families take this very personally, and view Trump as the most riveting source of the erosion of their past reputations.
Trump has seen to the collapse or derailment of three family dynasties—the Clintons, by beating Hillary, the Bushes by humbling Jeb, and now the Cheneys by luring Liz into her ruinous derangement.
Her “concession” speech, if you can call it that, was a promise of further wheel-spinning obsessions. Her new “Great Task” political action committee borrows its name from the words of Abraham Lincoln, whose life path now strikes her as an echo of her own.
You have to hand it to these people. Their doggedness is exceeded only by their self-absorption. No rebuke shakes them awake. Shown time and time again the empty marketplace for their aggressions, they simply double down, blaming the world for not appreciating their wisdom. After completing the empty mission of the January 6th panel, she will pivot to throwing rocks at Trump from her station in private life. At least those neuroses will no longer be funded by taxpayers.
Liz Cheney is healthy, wealthy and gifted. As a private citizen, she will be free to engage in whatever ranting she wishes to fend off the Trump effect on the GOP. Along the way, she will continue to demonize millions of voters who are grateful for his presidency, especially those who harbor the slightest doubt about the 2020 result.
This is what trump hatred has done to her. It could have gone so differently. Plenty of Republicans will prefer alternatives to Trump in 2024. Others will continue to stop short of full laments of a 2020 “steal,” choosing to look forward rather than backward. There is no merit to her weird assertion that her only choices were full devotion to his narratives and full commitment to his downfall.
But such is the myopia of Trump hatred. And it has claimed its most noteworthy victim. Liz Cheney may be found in endless speaking engagements, podcasts and MSNBC segments in the years to come, but she will never hold high public office again.
And her political death is at her own hand.