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“Liz Cheney Goes Home To Washington”: At Least Now She Can Stop Pretending She Lives In Wyoming

Liz Cheney, who was trailing in polls by somewhere between 30 and 50 points, announced today that she is ending her Senate primary campaign against Republican Mike Enzi, a campaign that had been launched on the premise that Enzi, a man with a 93 percent lifetime American Conservative Union score, was a bleeding-heart liberal whose efforts in the upper chamber were not nearly filibustery enough. Cheney cited “serious health issues” in her family, implying that it has to do with one of her children, though she couldn’t help wrapping it some gag-inducing baloney: ” My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well being will always be my overriding priority.” In any case, if one of Cheney’s children is ill, everyone certainly wishes him or her a speedy recovery. But what can we make of the failure of Cheney’s campaign?

For starters, it’s a reminder that celebrity comes in many forms, and guarantees almost nothing in electoral politics apart from some initial attention. Sure, the occasional coke-snorting TV anchor can parlay his time in front of the camera into an election win, but having a familiar name isn’t enough. If you look at all the sons, daughters, and wives (not too many husbands) of politicians who went on to get elected, the successful ones chose their races carefully, not challenging a strong incumbent in a state they hadn’t lived in since they were little kids.

As my friend Cliff Schecter tweeted, next on Liz Cheney’s agenda is moving back to Virginia next week, then getting on Meet the Press. After all, Wyoming is a nice place to run for office from, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Or at least, you can’t live there if you want to be part of the action in Washington, and it sure seemed that Wyoming Republican voters sensed that Cheney was just a tourist in their fine state.

This is something I’ve been going on about for a long time, that so many conservatives wax rhapsodic about small towns and The Heartland, yet they live in big cities on the East Coast, one in particular. Now of course, it’s difficult to have a career as a pundit if you live in Buford, WY (population: 1, seriously). But that’s kind of the point. Liz Cheney grew up in Virginia because her dad was an important guy doing important things in government. It would have been ridiculous for him to keep his family back in Wyoming, all the fine opportunities for fly-fishing not withstanding, so for the Cheneys it became the place they’re from, not the place they live.

Your average conservative Republican congressman spends his time in office railing against the Gomorrah on the Potomac and extolling the virtues of the common folk back in Burgsville, but what happens when he retires or loses an election? He buys a nice townhouse in the Virginia suburbs and becomes a lobbyist, electing to live out his days in the very place he told his constituents was a hellhole he couldn’t wait to get out of.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, January 6, 2013

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP Culture Is Quite Ill”: The Republican Anti-Obamacare Purity Cult

Sahil Kapur at TPM has a fine report today looking at how hatred of Obamacare has become such an ideé fixe in the Republican party that even the mildest possible concession—or failing to be sufficiently enraged in one’s condemnation of the law—has become grounds for a harsh primary attacks:

[One] victim is Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who is fending off a primary challenge from Liz Cheney in 2014. An outside group called Americans for Job Security last week released an ad attacking him for praising the concept of insurance market exchanges — the vehicle for Obamacare, which was modeled on conservative principles — early in 2010. “These exchanges can be good,” Enzi said then, in a clip that the ad repeatedly plays.

“Good?” says the narrator in the 30-second ad. “Wyoming’s Obamacare exchange has the most expensive premiums in the country, and it’s marred by glitches. Tell Mike Enzi we don’t like these liberal, big government Obamacare exchanges.” The attack forced Enzi’s campaign to defend him by touting his efforts to “stop the worst parts of the law.”

…[AEI scholar Norman] Ornstein summed it up this way: “These are the talking points and if you don’t apply them, then you’re a traitor.” He confessed that he’s “never seen anything like that before. I mean, you can certainly find party litmus tests…But this has been taken to a level that I think is almost bizarre.”

The comparison everyone is making is to McCarthyism in the 1950s, but there are some notable differences. The McCarthy era was all about nutty right-wing witch hunts, heavily laden with antisemitism and paranoia about fluoridated water and vaccines, led by an alcoholic, power-mad bully. But more to the point, red paranoia was widely shared throughout society. Both parties were fervently anti-communist. There really was a Soviet Union, which really did have nuclear missiles and an extensive spying apparatus. There really was terrible anxiety about another world war.

Whereas the Republican Obamacare purity rituals are restricted to their party only, and from the outside are frankly bizarre. They treat a moderate, incremental reform of the healthcare sector, based largely on Republican ideas, like New Lefters treated Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia. I’m reminded more of Maoist “struggle sessions,” where enemies of the party were publicly beaten and forced to confess their ideological crimes, real or imagined.

But in any case, the historical analogies one reaches for to describe this trend are telling in themselves. The GOP culture is quite ill, and shows little sign of improving anytime soon.


By: Ryan Cooper, Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 2, 2013

December 4, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, GOP | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cheney Family Values”: A Political Maneuver Tailored To A Conservative Electorate

If Liz Cheney, whose bid for the Senate has always had a stench of extreme opportunism, wants to discuss traditions and values, I’m all for it. Let’s start here: Isn’t there a tradition of close-knit family members’ taking care not to wound one another? Is there not value in that?

From the moment that Liz decided, from the perch of her longtime home in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, to act the part of an honest-to-goodness Wyoming resident and challenge an incumbent senator (and family friend) from that state, she must have known that the issue of same-sex marriage would come up. It is, after all, a prominent thread in the news. It’s also a prominent thread in stories about her family, given that her father, Dick, bucked his party to become an early Republican supporter of same-sex marriage, and given that her lone sibling, Mary, has a female spouse.

She must also have entertained speaking out against it, because that’s what she ended up doing on Sunday, on Fox News, saying that she believed “in the traditional definition of marriage.” And she must have foreseen that this would pain Mary, who was married last year and whose two children are being brought up with the understanding that their family has the same dignity as any other.

But she plunged forward anyway, disregarding the inevitable discord. As Jonathan Martin reported in The Times, Liz and Mary aren’t speaking to each other now, and there’s a long shadow over the Cheneys’ holiday get-togethers.

Is any political office worth that? Would victory redeem the public message that Liz just sent to her niece and nephew? I’m imagining her awkwardness the next time that she goes to hug or kiss them (and I’m assuming that she’s a hugger or kisser, which may be a leap). If there’s not a knot in her stomach, then there’s nothing at all in her heart.

Having a lesbian sister doesn’t compel her to support marriage equality. Having a gay relative doesn’t compel anyone to. There are earnest divisions here, often driven by deep-seated religious convictions.

But Liz’s decision to chart a course and publicize a view bound to offend her sister is entirely volitional. It’s also entirely different from airing other ideological disagreements within families. Conflicting views on abortion or the death penalty don’t challenge the very structure and foundation of a loved one’s home. Questioning the validity of a marriage does. You’re not saying that you part with the way someone thinks. You’re saying that you have qualms with who they are, and this is a statement — a sentiment — you can keep to yourself. Even once Liz had elected to run, she could have chosen to say that the issue of gay marriage wasn’t going to be part of her campaign.

Is she even being genuine in her opposition? In a 2009 interview about gay marriage on MSNBC, she said that “freedom means freedom for everybody.” On Monday I talked with three people who worked with her in the Bush administration, and all were very surprised by her current stance. They’d had the strong impression that she favored same-sex marriage.

Perhaps Mary and her wife, Heather Poe, did as well, because Poe wrote this on Facebook after Liz’s appearance on Fox News: “Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 — she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us.”

Happy back then, self-serving and seemingly cowardly now. This feels to me like a political maneuver tailored to a conservative electorate, and an unnecessary maneuver at that, with the risk of making her seem inauthentic and uncharitable to Wyoming voters who’ve had more than a decade to absorb her dad’s socially moderate views. Gay marriage won’t be those voters’ primary, secondary or tertiary issue, anyway.

In a statement released Monday, Dick and Lynne Cheney insisted that Liz had “always believed in the traditional definition of marriage.” I suppose that’s the politically prudent tack at this point, but now the Cheneys’ support for gay marriage, so moving over the years, is buried beneath a family feud. Their statement paid less attention to Mary, who’s not running for anything, not carrying her parents’ ambitions into a new era.

One word stood out. They said that Liz had shown Mary “compassion.” This echoed a statement of Liz’s own, in which she noted that she had “always tried to be compassionate” toward Mary and her family. What a curious vocabulary. It was as if they were all talking about some charity case.

I hope the Cheneys find their way out of this. It’s an ugly spot that Liz, in all her compassion, has put them in.

By: Frank Bruni, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, November 18, 2013

November 19, 2013 Posted by | Marriage Equality, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Unknowns That Are Known”: No One Cares What Donald Rumsfeld Or The Cheney’s Think About Syria

A sneering Liz Cheney, looking to unseat Wyoming GOP Sen. Mike Enzi, told a Tea Party town hall in Jackson Hole Tuesday night that she would not support a congressional resolution to back President Obama’s planned Syria strike, deriding him for “an amateurish approach to national security and foreign policy.”

The daughter of the man responsible for fabricating the case for the Iraq war, the man who famously insisted “we will, in fact, be treated as liberators” and who had no plan for when that predictably turned out not to be the case – the daughter of that man is upset that Obama doesn’t seem to have a clear plan for Syria. This news comes on the heels of disgraced former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney’s partner in war crime, blasting Obama’s plan as “feckless” and deriding him as the “so-called commander in chief.”

So let’s recap: The team responsible for one of the worst decisions in American foreign policy history is kneecapping the president in a time of crisis. Of course, Dick Cheney has been attacking Obama from the beginning, insisting before he was inaugurated that he was making America less safe by promising to end torture and close Guantánamo. But now his daughter is taking her Obama contempt so far that she’s bucking her dad’s neocon friends and resisting the president’s Syria plans.

Cheney’s turnaround is pretty striking. She was a co-founder of the neocon group Keep America Safe, along with always-wrong war-lover William Kristol. TNR’s Marc Tracy has detailed Cheney’s long list of statements backing action against Assad going back to 2007. As an assistant secretary of state she tried to use funds for regime change in Syria and Iran. Just last month, the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin (who’s in the running to share Kristol’s title of “always wrong”) listed Cheney as among the rising Republican stars who would buck “the isolationist trend in our party and in the country itself.” But now, running in a state that’s skeptical of more foreign interventions, she’s siding with the isolationists.

Cheney downplays the extent to which she’s split from former GOP allies. “The press will try to portray this Syria debate as a battle between wings of the Republican Party,” she told the friendly right-wing audience. “Don’t believe them.” But in fact there is a split in the GOP, and Cheney is putting herself on Team Rand Paul.

Except she’ll never get to Washington to join Team Rand Paul. Trailing Sen. Mike Enzi by 30 points in recent polls, she sounded a little unhinged in her Jackson Hole remarks, comparing herself to Winston Churchill standing up to Adolf Hitler – although it wasn’t clear who is playing the role of Hitler, Enzi or Obama – and accusing congressional Democrats and Republicans of lying about the depredations of Obamacare. She promised to abolish the EPA, the IRS and the Department of Education.

Cheney also went on a rant against the Jackson Hole News & Guide –  the only paper covering her remarks Tuesday –  for reporting on the $220 fine she had to pay for misrepresenting her address to get a fishing license.

“Newspapers are dying, and that’s not a bad thing,” she said. “We’re not depending on the Jackson Hole News & Guide to get the news out. We’re depending on ourselves. We’re going to go over their heads.” Cheney then said if each supporter talked to 10 friends about her, they wouldn’t need the newspaper. An audience member then singled out the News & Guide reporter in the crowd, and Cheney supporters refused to be interviewed afterward. Friendly!

That’s the old Cheney charm. Also this past week she got in a fight with her sister Mary when she came out against gay marriage in order to hit the conservative Enzi from the right. The normally quiet Mary Cheney, who is married to her longtime partner Heather Poe, hit her sister back:

“For the record, I love my sister, but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage,” she wrote.

Even Dick Cheney has come out in support of gay marriage, citing his daughter’s relationship. Poor Liz can’t even find the courage to join the rest of her family. And it’s sad, because she’s opening the rift even though she has almost no chance of unseating Enzi.

But bashing Obama gets her back on the same page as her father, so family holidays may not be so tense after all.


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, September 4, 2013

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Senator Cheney?”: Just When You Thought The Senate Couldn’t Get Any Worse, Up Pops The Devil’s Daughter

If we were to make a list of competitive Senate races to watch in 2014, Wyoming wouldn’t make the cut. Sen. Mike Enzi is a popular Republican incumbent in a deep-red state — he won re-election in 2008 with more than 75% of the vote — and at age 69, the senator is not yet in a position where he needs to think about retirement. Enzi’s fourth term looks like one of the cycle’s safest bets.

At least, it did. In an era in which even conservative Republican incumbents have to worry about fierce primary challenges, Enzi will apparently have a high-profile foe next year.

A young Dick Cheney began his first campaign for the House in this tiny village [Lusk, Wyoming] — population 1,600 — after the state’s sole Congressional seat finally opened up. But nowadays, his daughter Liz does not seem inclined to wait patiently for such an opening.

Ms. Cheney, 46, is showing up everywhere in the state, from chicken dinners to cattle growers’ meetings, sometimes with her parents in tow. She has made it clear that she wants to run for the Senate seat now held by Michael B. Enzi, a soft-spoken Republican and onetime fly-fishing partner of her father.

It’s not just idle speculation. Liz Cheney, despite having no meaningful background in the state whatsoever, moved with her family to Wyoming just last year and quickly became a ubiquitous political player. Indeed, the right-wing media personality even called Enzi directly, letting him know she’s likely to run against him in a GOP primary.

The result would probably be an ugly fight within the state Republican Party, pitting a popular three-term incumbent against a powerful family with deep roots in the state.

It’s not altogether clear why Cheney would bother. Her brief tenure in public office — she worked in the Bush/Cheney State Department — didn’t go well, but she remains a fixture in political media, routinely publishing “stark raving mad” pieces and making Sunday show appearances. Cheney’s megaphone is formidable, even if she uses it towards ridiculous ends.

But whatever her motivations, this will probably be one of the cycle’s more noteworthy primary fights. Enzi, assuming he doesn’t retire, would almost certainly have the edge, though he has not yet faced a rival as fierce and unburdened by propriety as Cheney.

On Twitter, ‏@pourmecoffee added, “If ‘Liz Cheney’ is the answer, the question must be ‘How could the U.S. Senate possibly get any worse?'”

Postscript: The NYT piece noted that the former vice president, eager to help his daughter, has also begun traveling more regularly to the state he used to represent. That said, Liz Cheney “has told associates that if she runs, she wants to do so in her own right.”

It was the only sentence in the article that literally made me laugh. Cheney wants to run against a popular incumbent from her own party in a state she’s lived in for a year, and she thinks her candidacy should be unrelated to her last name? C’mon.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 8, 2013

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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