Soon to become a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wyoming, Liz Cheney has exercised terrible judgment in her crusade against Donald Trump. First, voting with House Democrats in a purely symbolic second impeachment of Trump on January 13, 2021 just a week before his term expired, and with no hope of getting a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove him from the office he no longer held after January 20, 2021 anyway.
Then, she played into the hands of Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats by serving on their show-trial masquerading as an investigation of Trump’s complicity in the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Pelosi had belligerently rejected other House Republicans, proposed by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who would have offered some balance on the committee. Instead, she recruited Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger — two Republicans who had voted to impeach Trump — to give the false appearance of fairness and bi-partisanship.
After the FBI’s separate investigation that concluded Trump had not broken any laws or organized an insurrection, the Democrats’ January 6 Committee was redundant. This exercise in political theater was designed to culminate in the televised hearings which would run through the summer, just before the midterm elections. It was nothing but a devious strategy to redirect public attention from the policy disasters of Biden and the congressional progressive agenda.
Cheney’s prospects in Wyoming’s August 16 primary are bleak. She trails her Republican challenger, Harriet Hageman, 52%-30%. Predictably, Hageman has been endorsed by Trump, who’s still popular in the state. Cheney is out of step with her constituents, who’ve told pollsters they disapprove of her presence on the Democrats’ January 6 committee, 63%-29%. In desperation, Cheney’s website is urging Democrats to change their party affiliation to Republican on Election Day and vote for her in the Republican primary (permissible in Wyoming.) That won’t make much difference given the 5:1 Republican advantage over Democrats in party registrations.
Yes, Cheney had generally supported Trump’s and the Republicans’ agenda. While her composite voting record on a conservative-to-liberal scale in National Journal’s “Almanac of American Politics” leans conservative at 73%-23%, it’s a lot less conservative than Wyoming’s senior Senator John Barrasso, who gets a 95%-4% rating. That makes Cheney a relatively soft Republican in a very conservative state, where Trump beat Biden 79%-27% in 2020, beat Hillary Clinton 68%-22% in 2016, and where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats 200,000 to 43,000.
Cheney has been a Wyoming congresswoman only since 2017. She was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Virginia and worked in Washington, DC for most of her career. In Wyoming, many regard her as a carpetbagger who’s tied to the DC swamp. And she’s now become the favorite Republican of Democrats, progressives and the liberal media. If Republican primary voters in Wyoming reject her, maybe she’ll feel more comfortable as a Democrat.
Edmond Burke, a conservative member of the British Parliament in the 18th century, famously told his constituents in Bristol, England that he was their representative, not their delegate. Making the distinction that a delegate merely does what he’s told to do, he explained that, “Your representative owes you not his industry only, but his judgment, and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
That’s a courageous statement and noble principle. But in defying her constituents, Cheney exercised poor judgment and misapplied Burke’s principle. The Democrats didn’t need her vote to impeach Trump in the House. They already had plenty to spare. All she accomplished was virtue signaling. O.K., she was appalled by Trump’s antics as president along with his actions following the election and, especially, on January 6. A public statement to that effect would have sufficed. But assisting Democrats’ midterm election strategy was uncalled for and disloyal.
For argument’s sake, let’s say Trump is history and won’t be the GOP nominee in 2024. The prize at hand for Republicans is winning the upcoming midterm elections and the presidency in 2024. Rather than dwelling on the past and revisiting the 2020 election, the best strategy for the GOP is to focus on Democrat failures and what matters most to voters in the present and the future, like illegal immigration, the economy, crime, inflation, educational choice, etc.
Ironically, if the goal of Cheney and the Democrats’ January 6 Committee is to block a Trump presidential run in 2024, they’re doing the GOP a favor. Given the rising anti-Democrat tide and Trump’s inherent liabilities, he might be the only Republican who would lose to a Democrat in 2024 (which certainly won’t be Joe Biden).
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.
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