Playing With Fire: The Liz Cheney Story

A headline for a guest column by Joseph Epstein in Saturday’s WSJ read “I Don’t Donate to Politicians, but I Will to Liz Cheney. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Epstein, he is the former editor of The American Scholar and a bit of a gadfly among the few conservative writers left in America. I say a bit of a gadfly because while protesting his “conservative” views, he was definitely aligned with the country club Republicans – much like Bill Kristol.

Mr. Epstein’s guest column was first about his tangential and rare association with former Vice-President Dick Cheney (R) and more accurately his wife Lynne Cheney in her role as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. I assume that it was supposed to either give credibility when talking about the Cheneys or to demonstrate some long standing solitary with them – neither is true. (There are many politicians with whom I am on a first name basis but that neither constitutes solidarity nor insight.)

His second thought was to transfer that “insight” and “solidarity” to the Cheney’s daughter, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) although he had never met her:

In any case, I was partial to Liz Cheney without having met her.

That partially grew into outright admiration when Rep. Cheney took the strong and ultimately self-sacrificial stand against Donald Trump’s behavior. . .”

Thus it is obvious that this “transference” apparently did not occur until Ms. Cheney was vilified by her own party and a primary challenger arose in Wyoming who appears to be on the verge of kicking Ms. Cheney’s political derriere next week. So much for personal loyalty to Ms. Cheney – or for that matter to her parents.

I don’t know whether Ms. Cheney’s vote on the impeachment of Mr. Trump or joining the January 6 Democrat lynch mob was actually based on any heroics on her part or simply out of revenge and the naivete to believe that she would not be held accountable in her own state where the Cheney name is almost sacrosanct.

Mr. Epstein’s protestations probably have more to do with his hatred of Mr. Trump and, like Mr. Kristol, his loss of influence and prestige in the Washington, DC establishment – no more cocktail parties, no more automatically returning his phone calls, no more mention of his name when citing an authority or an insider. Mr. Epstein appears to have been relegated to “hanger-on” rather than “mover and shaker.”

Be that as it may, it is difficult to make Ms. Cheney heroic. When she voted to impeach Mr. Trump based on the first articles of impeachment it may have been a matter of conscience. Unfortunately her conscience was wrong. Every article, every allegation and every leak from the impeachment committee was based on lies originated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and amplified and given credence by a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that has come to resemble the Soviet secret police more than the nation’s premier law enforcement agency – lies, perjury, withholding information, the list continues today regarding unfounded allegations about Mr. Trump and his supporters as well as the active suppression of information implicating President Joe Biden (D) and his son Hunter (WJ)* in a massive international influence peddling scheme. The point is that nothing in the first articles of impeachment was true – well, maybe some of the “a’s”, “an’s”, “the’s” and non-binary nouns but that’s it. How can you be a hero promoting a big lie.

Probably the real reason for Ms. Cheney’s vote can be seen as a means of retaliating for the years of slurs, criticism and mockery by Mr. Trump of former president George Bush and by direct and indirect reference, Ms. Cheney’s father. It wasn’t unique. Mr. Trump slurred, slandered, criticized every president beginning with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (D). Under Mr. Trump’s view of the world only he knew how to be president and the rest were incompetent, compromised or just plain crooks. I do think he spared former President Ronald Reagan but he did emphasize former President Barack Obama and Mr. Bush in particular.

Ms. Cheney’s vote reeked of the moment when unsuccessful presidential candidate Sen. John McCain rose from his sick bed to cast the decisive vote allowing the repeal of Obamacare to be debated and then turned around and voted against the resolution. He hated Mr. Trump and was heard to say as they carried him off the floor, “Let’s see him make America great now.” That little bit of spite confirmed for America that you can be a real war hero and an unrepentant jerk at the same time. If Ms. Cheney’s vote was made out of spite, then she should take her place next to Mr. McCain in the Political Hall of Shame.

In the end, Ms. Cheney only hurt herself. Mr. Trump was not convicted or removed. Ms. Cheney lost her leadership position in the Republican Caucus and now she is going to lose her congressional seat. A hero she is not. An over-estimator of her importance in either Wyoming or national politics she is.

Karma is a bitch. Let’s see if Ms. Cheney returns to Wyoming after her congressional exit or she finds employment in the dwindling numbers of the country club Republicans. Maybe she and Mr. Epstein and Mr. Kristol can exchange puff pieces for the few journals that give a damn about them.


*Worthless Jerk