Liz Cheney's Removal as GOP Conference Chairwoman Is Part of Her Strategy to Win Re-Election to the House

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

A little earlier today, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy let it be known that he would not whip votes to keep Vichy Republican Liz Cheney in her position as chairwoman of the House GOP Conference. See NY Rep. Elise Stefanik Gets Support of Trump and Others To Replace Liz Cheney in GOP Leadership.

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While I think this is a move that is long overdue…someone who has decided to wage war on her own caucus is hardly someone who can be trusted to lead its ‘messaging’ efforts (pardon me as I guffaw at the idea of the House GOP staying on message)…I believe that the commentary that declares this is a symptom of GOP disunity at the worst possible time is not accurate. In the short- and long-run, purging cynical opportunists like Cheney from GOP leadership ranks and from the GOP, in general, is a good and necessary thing if we are going to compete and win in the future. As someone famous once said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” Cheney is the poster child for the elitist, wealthy Congressional Republicans who have sucked up to Democrats and the media while holding their voters in utter contempt to which President Trump’s election was a reaction. She won’t fight the Democrats. She has no ideas that are of use today. But she always has the time to tell her voters and her colleagues that they need to “do better.”

Many of the same folks who frame the strike against Cheney as being a bad move because it is a year-and-a-half out from the next election also tend to frame the decision as one that is centered, naturally, on Trump. My friend Erick Erickson encapsulated a lot of this in his news bulletin this morning.

The GOP stood up for Liz Cheney just a few short months ago and suddenly it has gone south. It has gone south at about the same time census numbers have come out giving the GOP a real advantage to taking back the House. It also concurrently comes as Kevin McCarthy has made several trips to Florida to engage in performative leg humping of former President Donald Trump. Now, suddenly, McCarthy is caught on a hot mic bashing Cheney.

My educated hypothesis is that a great deal of the sudden antagonism towards Cheney has to do with placating President Trump in the run up to the 2022 election cycle. My guess is that it has less to do with Cheney in charge of the House GOP Conference — something the GOP was perfectly fine to defend even after her impeachment vote.

It is impossible, however, for Cheney to function if she has lost the confidence of her colleagues who are more interested in allegiance to a man than fidelity to ideas or even truth. I just continue to believe this is less about Cheney pushing back against the stolen election lies and more to do with Republican leaders fearful Trump might undermine their advances next year unless they dispatch Cheney.

Sometimes the greater good of beating the left requires stepping back to avoid distractions. But if Cheney does step back or loses, we all should note she lost in large part because she wouldn’t bend a knee to a lie and the GOP leadership in the House still feels like it needs President Trump to help them win.

Back in December-January, Cheney decided for reasons best known to herself to align herself with the fringe faction in the GOP House caucus and in “conservative” media who had decided that Joe Biden being selected president presented a golden opportunity to put all those nasty deplorables who’d voted Trump into office and supported him when the elites were looking for an exit ramp in their place. Cheney’s allies pimped her as the next big thing in the GOP even as she was going all-in on the impeachment of President Trump for inciting an “insurrection.” See Tucker Carlson Wonders Why the GOP Loathes Its Voters and Explains a Lot of Things in the Process, and Mitch McConnell Reportedly Sees Impeachment as a Chance to ‘Purge’ Trump From the Party.

Using the highly-tuned political instincts the Establishment GOP is so famous for, she characterized President Trump’s claims about industrial-scale improprieties in some locations as lies (nearly 60% of the GOP believe the election was neither free nor fair, I’m one of them) and supported an impeachment that 91% of Republicans opposed. We’re told by the establishment types that this shows character and muh principles…it could be mistaken for blinding stupidity and no one could fault you.

It is at this point where I think Cheney’s more recent actions begin to make sense. She faced a revolt at home and a vote of censure by the Wyoming GOP. This vote and her swamp-water polling have attracted four primary challengers. At that point, I believe Cheney’s focus became her own re-election.

How do you win an election in a single-party state when you are loathed by your own party? Easy. You campaign for Democrat votes. This is not without precedent. If you’ll recall, Lisa Murkowski lost her primary in 2010 and won on a write-in campaign on the strength of Democrat votes. Thad Cochran won a run-off primary election against Chris McDaniel in 2014 by appealing to Democrats to cross over and vote for him.

Let’s look at what Cheney has been up to since she was repudiated by her state party. She is pushing for an extensive investigation into the January 6 riot that President Trump was falsely, and with Cheney’s backing, accused of having incited.

She has declared that she will campaign on the Trump impeachment in her primary election.

And who can forget this?

Does any of this seem like things a GOP candidate should be doing whether or not they support Trump? If you’re keeping score, you’ll notice that the only person not pushing party unity is the person who is supposed to push party unity.

Of course, she’s also done what any Vichy Republican would do under these circumstances. She’s written an op-ed for the Washington Post calling out the GOP base, including her home state voters, as dangerous imbeciles who can’t see with the same clarity as she. Nothing says “I’m a conservative Republican” like a WaPo op-ed calling all other conservative Republicans unprincipled goobers, see Liz Cheney’s Pitch to Republicans Shows Just How Clueless She Truly Is.

What you’re seeing is not some high-minded debate about the future of the GOP. Rather it is a banal spat over Liz Cheney’s political future. She miscalculated the political environment in January in a way that should disqualify her from any elective office. When the walls started closing in, she went full Bulwark and started claiming, absent any evidence, that she was the only principled person left in the GOP.

She’s sowed division in her caucus and is obviously currying favor with Democrat voters in Wyoming as well as appealing to deep-pocket Democrats for campaign funds. If she loses her primary, which seems likely, expect her to launch an independent or write-in campaign.