Politics & Policy

In Defense of Liz Cheney

Congresswoman Liz Cheney, with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy behind her and to her left, at a news conference on Capitol Hill, May 8, 2019 (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Liz Cheney undertook a stunning act of political courage last week.

 

She voted to impeach President Trump with a statement meant to leave a mark and make it as hard as possible for fellow Republicans to turn away from his misconduct. She said of Trump’s behavior before and after the riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

 

Cheney did this, not as a moderate member of the House from a suburban swing district, but as a conservative from Wyoming’s at-large district.

 

She didn’t do it as an obscure backbencher, but the No. 3 in the House GOP leadership.

 

She didn’t do it as a long-serving member about to retire, but as a politician with considerable room to rise and presumably ambitions to do so.

 

She did it knowing that she would put a political target on her back, and indeed the backlash was instantaneous, with calls to boot her from leadership and threats of a primary challenger. Cheney’s rejoinder is that hers was a vote of conscience, a word and concept that some of her critics need to reacquaint themselves with.

 

Various members of the House Freedom Caucus, including Jim Jordan (incredibly enough, now a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom) were particularly vocal in denouncing Cheney. By and large, that group has gone from asking, “How can we afford the out-of-control spending in Washington?” to, when Trump tells them to jump, asking, “How high?”

 

Matt Gaetz, the Florida representative who has made a name for himself as a clownish C-list Trump-world celebrity, predictably declared war on Cheney on Hannity.

 

To his credit, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has defended her and said he supports her staying in leadership.

 

Reasonable people can disagree on the advisability of impeachment, but there shouldn’t be disagreement that the Republican Party needs more officeholders like Liz Cheney who take their responsibilities seriously and are willing to go their own way when they believe it is right. Brava.

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