Rep. Liz Cheney recently survived a vote on removing her from leadership in the House Republican caucus. She thanked her colleagues by promptly going out and contradicting House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy publicly and making the Sunday show rounds to obsess over Donald Trump and January 6th. It was one giant middle finger to those who stood beside her, hoping she would now focus on helping the Republican party instead of fighting pointless, long-past battles.
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Because of that, the heat is back on, and fresh talk of kicking her to the curb has started up again. This time, though, the names being mentioned actually matter, including Rep. Steve Scalise, who is currently number two in leadership.
NEW: Top Republicans are turning on Rep. Liz Cheney with one conservative leader suggesting she could be ousted from her GOP post within a month.https://t.co/qQjtdsFXkl
— Axios (@axios) May 1, 2021
Why it matters: The comments by Reps. Steve Scalise, the minority whip, and Jim Banks, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, carry weight because of their close relationship with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — who is openly feuding with Cheney.
- Banks (R-Ind.), leader of the largest conservative caucus in the House, told Axios Friday that Cheney’s continued criticisms are “an unwelcome distraction,” and he questioned whether she would retain her leadership role in a month.
- Banks’ comments were echoed more diplomatically by Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 Republican in the House.
- During an interview with Axios on Friday, he said of Cheney: “This idea that you just disregard President Trump is not where we are, and, frankly, he has a lot to offer still.”
- Earlier in the week, McCarthy himself told reporters: “If you’re sitting here at a retreat that’s focused on policy, focused on the future of making American next-century, and you’re talking about something else, you’re not being productive.”
Cheney had also recently criticized Banks by calling a letter he wrote about reaching working-class voters “neo-Marxist.” In other words, she’s got no desire to be a team player at this point and has decided to just openly attack top leaders in her own caucus with no real, end goal in sight (unless her end goal is to cause disfunction and stop Republicans from winning in 2022).
The situation is untenable at this point. How can you keep someone in leadership who is so hostile towards the party’s other leaders and members? And I’m not even talking about Donald Trump. If you are making an enemy of Steve Scalise, something is wrong.
Republicans are eager to move forward and present a unified front in a favorable election environment. Meanwhile, Cheney continues to selfishly fight battles that aren’t even being fought anymore, and she’s doing so by going to left-wing media sources and providing them with fodder. There’s nothing that animates Republican voters more than that.
That Cheney is actually mulling a 2024 presidential run makes her behavior seem all the more cynical and self-centered. Yet, it seems unlikely she’ll gain any steam, considering there is essentially no base for her brand of Republicanism. Further, there is some hypocrisy at play here, as well. Many of the same people who loudly criticized Trump for not being disciplined and focused on the good of the party are now praising Cheney for going rogue, thereby hurting her party. Why is that suddenly acceptable?
Cheney may yet win re-election, but those in leadership can’t just represent their own interests. If she wants to be a maverick who routinely slams her own party while getting backslaps from Chuck Todd, she should be made to do so from the sidelines. If Republican House members can’t stand up and say enough is enough after all this, they are useless as a caucus and don’t deserve to win in 2022.
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