Attacks on Trump, GOP Lead to Cheney’s Removal
They Wyoming Republican seemingly has a bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
The House Republican Conference met today and ousted conference chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her leadership position. Her almost certain replacement will be Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY). Cheney has no one else to blame, because this is thanks to a series of self-inflicted wounds.
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has been a solid conservative, but her ability to lead the conference was badly damaged by her open attacks on President Donald Trump and her Republican colleagues who expressed concerns over fraud in the 2020 election. And while such attacks certainly make her the darling of Leftmedia talkingheads (who adore any Republican who disparages her fellow Republicans), she has created deep animosity toward her in the conference.
The sole representative from Wyoming previously caused friction by picking sides during primary elections, even publicly criticizing colleagues whose seats were at risk. Then, Cheney quietly orchestrated a Washington Post op-ed in which 10 former secretaries of defense expressed concern that Trump may try to politicize the military, an especially disingenuous allegation considering these same men have been silent as Joe Biden purges conservative Christians (or, as he calls them, “extremists” and “white supremacists”) from the military.
Cheney worsened the situation by becoming just one of 10 Republicans to join leftist Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Adam Schiff, and every other House Democrat in voting to impeach President Trump a second time, this time under the dubious charge of having “incited” the Capitol riot on January 6.
The final straw came recently after President Trump emailed supporters saying, “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” Cheney tweeted her rebuttal: “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen… Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE.”
This was not just an attack on President Trump but also on the 147 congressional Republicans who objected to the certification of Electoral College votes from at least one state — states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, the latter where a federal judge later ruled its secretary of state violated its election law by unilaterally changing its absentee ballot rules.
Rather than remain silent or seeking to clarify where fraud existed (for example, arguing against Dominion voting machines having been hacked, but highlighting the ease of committing ballot fraud when there is a massive increase in absentee ballots), Cheney doubled down. Maybe she was feeling emboldened after easily surviving a February vote to remove her, forced by House conservatives. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) defended her during that vote, arguing, “People can have differences of opinion. … Liz has a right to vote her conscience.”
Cheney does have a right to vote her conscience, but she does not have a right to lead the House Republican Conference by fighting Republicans more than Democrats. And her actions and public comments have all but guaranteed that she will be removed.
Her strongest ally, McCarthy, was recently (accidentally?) caught on a hot mic, moments before doing a segment with “Fox & Friends’s” Steve Doocy, saying he has “lost confidence” in Cheney and “I’ve had it with her.”
Cheney’s replacement as the third most powerful member of the House is almost certain to be Elise Stefanik, who has not only received the endorsement of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) but the Republican Party’s kingmaker, Donald Trump.
In recent comments, Trump called Cheney a “warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership.” He endorsed Stefanik, declaring, “We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritize the values of America First. Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!”
Ironically, Cheney has a much more conservative voting record overall, and a stronger record of voting for Trump’s policies specifically, than does Stefanik. An analysis of her House voting record shows Cheney voted 92.9% of the time for Trump’s policy positions compared to Stefanik’s 77.7%. The disparity is even more noticeable in rankings by the American Conservative Union (Cheney 78%, Stefanik 44%) and Heritage Action (Cheney 80%, Stefanik 48%).
On the other hand, despite her more liberal voting record, Stefanik was one of the most vocal pro-Trump voices in 2020 and one of his staunchest defenders during the impeachment proceedings. She was one of the congressional Republicans to object to accepting Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes until assertions of election fraud and violations of state election law had been resolved. Trump deeply values loyalty, and Stefanik showed loyalty, especially over the last year.
As a result, the conservative Cheney will be removed as House Conference Leader and replaced with the moderate Stefanik, who in 2018 created a PAC to raise money to run Republican women for Congress. Republicans elected a record number of women to the House in 2020.
Simply put, Cheney has alienated herself from most of her Republican colleagues, severely damaged the ability of the Republican Party to spread its message, and infuriated tens of millions of Republican voters with her attacks on President Trump and her contemptuous dismissal of the concerns of Republican voters.
She’s turning the knife on her way out, too. In a defiant speech from the House floor Tuesday, she said Trump presents a “never seen before” threat because he “has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him.” She added, “Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”
Cheney is finding out the hard way that you can’t be a leader without followers, and you can’t keep followers when you attack them.
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