By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus
Have you ever seen a political plunge go any deeper or faster than Wyoming’s lone U. S. Congressperson Liz Cheney has managed since Jan. 6, 2021?
Let’s examine how such a fall could happen.
A familiar refrain often heard from politicians is that sometimes you “just hold your nose and cast your vote.” We have all heard that hundreds of times. That is the essence of politics, especially in Congress.
No matter how “honorable” you might be or how awful the situation is, often U. S. Representatives just take a deep breath and cast their vote. They will live to see another day.
But not Liz Cheney. She has been honored for her “principled” stance against former President Donald Trump when she voted to impeach him.
What Might Have Been
Let’s just note that had she gone along she had a good chance of being the next Speaker of the House after the 2022 midterm elections.
That is the third most powerful position in the country and a certain springboard toward the presidency.
Think of the good she could have done for Wyoming in that position? Have you been watching the current Speaker Nancy Pelosi in recent years? This is the ultimate position of national power and Liz Cheney could very well have occupied that post at an incredibly young age of 56. She could have been speaker for the next 20 years.
And even if she fell short in getting the speakership, her position of power would still be extraordinary for someone in Congress for such a short time.
She gave all that up.
She says she acted on “principle.” Yet more than 200 of her other Republican Congresspeople chose not to vote on a resolution certain to fail. Do all of them not have principles? They are still in their offices, representing their constituents, and moving up the leadership ladder. On the U. S. Senate side, 45 of the 50 Republican senators voted not to impeach. Do those 45 senators all lack principles, too?
After her disastrous decision to vote to impeach and her even more disastrous decision to run for reelection, she is now in an almost permanent political purgatory in today’s Trump-controlled Republican party.
The chances of a Wyoming Congressperson becoming Speaker of the House is just about zero. It’s never happened in 132 years so far. Far into the future, historians will look back at her political decisions with amazement and disbelief.
Politicians love to talk about their principles. If everything to do with Liz’s decisions had to do with principle, then good for her. We sure want to believe her.
However, her detractors will remind us of how Trump spent four years mocking and criticizing the George Bush-Dick Cheney war plan in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trump tweeted that the $3 trillion spent by Bush-Cheney in the Mideast was the biggest financial and military fiasco in American history. And based on how things are today in the Mideast, Trump said the Bush-Cheney effort was a total foreign policy disaster. And everybody knows those plans were hatched by Dick Cheney, Liz’s father.
A Chance To Get Even
Could it be that when Liz Cheney finally got the chance to poke Trump in the eye (by voting for impeachment) like Trump had been poking her dad (over those wars) — would it be possible that she just could not help herself? Here was her chance to get even. Here was her chance to fight back after four miserable years of hearing Trump’s nasty denigration of her father.
Or was it just principle? This might have been the most expensive decision made in recent memory by a politician in the name of principle. Just look at what she lost and what the people of Wyoming lost because of her principles.
Liz Cheney went from being a national Republican hero (third-ranking GOP representative in Congress) to being a lost soul with no political or geographic home.
Has an incumbent with a famous name ever lost an election by such a large margin as when Liz Cheney lost to Harriet Hageman on Aug. 16? If any ever did, there no doubt was a scandal.
No scandal here, just incredibly bad timing and short-sighted and ill-advised decision making.
With Liz Cheney’s ill-fated decision, the people of Wyoming have lost so much leverage, so much clout. What might have been? And not only was Cheney by far the biggest loser but so were the people of Wyoming who had voted for her consistently. When they saw her self-destruct, it left them no choice but to throw her out.
It needs to be pointed out that Wyoming owes a huge debt of gratitude to the entire Cheney family for decades of service to our state and our country. It is hard to write a column like this one without also making sure some recognition is made for all the accomplishments of Dick, Lynne, and Liz Cheney. But that was then, this is now.
So here we are, in the aftermath of a horrible year for Liz Cheney — where does this media-described modern Joan of Arc go from here?
Despite her genuine conservative Republican principles, she is now only the occasional darling of liberal media and the national Democrat Party.
Her loss was so substantive that any decision on her part to run for president sounds foolish. It would be a farce.
Help Wanted: Attack Dog
But there is one job for which she is in high demand.
If the Republicans take back the House, then the Jan. 6 Commission will expire. She has been able to do most of her Trump-bashing from her position as Pelosi’s hand-picked vice-chairman of that group.
If that Congressional Commission goes away, I predict that President Joe Biden will appoint a new Presidential Commission to continue their work. And who do you think he will pick to be its chairman? How about Liz Cheney?
She does not have anything else to do. And Biden can trust her.