Rod Miller: What the Hell is Cheney Doing?

Columnist Rod Miller writes: "Liz Cheney is making the fence a very uncomfortable place to sit. She is almost single-handedly obliterating the middle ground."

Rod Miller

May 06, 20213 min read

Rod Miller
Rod Miller (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Amid all the noggin-scratchin’ and perplexity over Rep. Liz Cheney’s recent actions, there is wild conjecture about what her endgame is. Folks justifiably wonder what her ultimate goal might be as she prods and pokes at the Trump machine that is gobbling up the Republican Party.

History might offer an answer. Lets look back to the Second Punic War, a couple hundred years BC, when Rome and Carthage tussled over control of the western Mediterranean.

Two prominent military/political families, the Scipios from Rome and the Barcas from Carthage, were front and center as they led their respective nations in war. Each family send brothers to do battle with brothers from the other family.

Hannibal Barca was the Carthaginian leader, and you’ll remember him for taking a herd of elephants across the Alps to attack the Roman Empire from the north. Elephants…as in the symbol of the GOP. His counterpart on the Roman side was Scipio Africanus.

The Roman Legions had never seen elephants before and scattered in terror as Hannibal marched south toward Rome. Scipio’s Romans knew they couldn’t win against such a terrible weapon, and never offered Hannibal the satisfaction of a set-piece battle to decide the outcome of the war.

Instead, the Romans holed up within the walls of the city, hoping the Carthaginian would just go away. To convince the Romans to come out and fight, Hannibal captured one of Scipio Africanus’ brothers, cut off his head and threw it over the wall of the city as a challenge.

He is quoted as saying about this tactic, “If a battle is inevitable, make it immediate”.

Liz Cheney has, in a figurative but elegantly political sense, tossed the severed head of Donald Trump over the MAGA wall to get his troops to come out and fight. She is making the inevitable battle immediate.

By calling bullshit on “The Big Lie”, Cheney has drawn a line in the sand and we all must choose our side now. Not later. Now while the blood is hot.

It matters very little whether Cheney’s ambitions are toward a presidential run, retention of her seat as GOP Conference Chair, or re-election to her house seat in Wyoming. Her greatest contribution to her country and state is to get the rumble started, to force citizens to take one side or another in an inevitable conflict without which there would be no resolution.

That, in and of itself, takes considerable courage my friends.

Liz Cheney is making the fence a very uncomfortable place to sit. She is almost single-handedly obliterating the middle ground. Like Tom Paine, Cheney is publicly shaming the “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots”.

This moment of cathartic decision for the nation, the Republican Party and the State of Wyoming is brought to you by Liz Cheney. The Rubicon has been crossed and the die is cast. There is no turning back from this inevitable clash of ideology. Trump will lose, or not, depending on the outcome of this battle that Cheney has provoked.

When the dust clears, we will have learned a great deal about ourselves.

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Rod Miller

Political Columnist