Liz Cheney represents an imminent threat to that most sacred of things, “party unity.” Or at least that’s the whitewashed bill of goods being sold by House minority leader Kevin McCarthy as he sets out to purge Cheney from the GOP’s leadership team. “There’s no concern about how she voted on impeachment,” he told Steve Doocy of Fox News — no, of course not. McCarthy continued, “I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message. We all need to be working as one if we’re able to win the majority.”
Cheney, you see, is guilty because she tells the truth — that is, refuses to lie — when asked about Donald Trump and the events of January 6. Not because she’s called for the punishment of those who supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election, or because she’s condemned those who did not vote with her to impeach him; she’s done neither. Cheney’s mere positioning on the issue of Trump and the riot he egged on — remember, he tweeted that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” as a mob chanted “hang Mike Pence” and stormed the building Pence was in — is the existential threat to unity. Of course, some divergences from party orthodoxy can be tolerated. It appears that Elise Stefanik, who voted for the Equality Act, is destined to replace Cheney. Never mind that her voting record is significantly more squishy than Cheney’s; she fights for the man in Mar-a-Lago.
Perhaps party unity is what’s at stake in the fight over Cheney. But we should be honest about the kind of unity McCarthy seeks.