Cheney Defies McCarthy

As I noted yesterday, Minority Leader McCarthy made a threat that any Republican Representative who accepted Speaker Pelosi’s invitation to join the select committee on the 1/6 insurrection would be stripped of committee assignment. This did not dissuade Representative Liz Cheney who accepted the invite mere hours later, as Politico reported: Cheney joins Dems on Jan. 6 probe, defying McCarthy threat.

Of course, McCarthy floated his trail balloon behind closed doors and backtracked pretty fast:

McCarthy said Thursday he is “not making any threats” about committee placement but added that he knows of no cases where a Republican “would get their assignments from the speaker.”

“I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi,” he said of Cheney, adding she might be closer to Pelosi “than us.”

Cheney was unfazed following a meeting in Pelosi’s office with the other select panel members. She signaled she had not talked with McCarthy or been told she would lose her committee assignment.

“It’s very clear to me, as I’ve said, my oath and my duty is above partisanship and I expect Leader McCarthy to have the same view,” she said.

I fear Cheney’s expectation is misplaced.

The other Republican who voted for the select committee, and the other target of McCarthy’s threat was Adam Kinzinger, and Politico reported response in a headline thusly, Kinzinger on McCarthy’s Jan. 6 investigation threat: ‘Who gives a s—?’.

So, again we see the general weakness of American party leadership on display. While McCarthy could certainly seek to remove Cheney from her committees, it is pretty unlikely he will do so.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    Cheney is an interesting case study here. She is descended from Republican royalty and was on track to simply walk into a major role in the party and the nation. But ever since the Tea Party that royalty has less and less relevance. I think she sees that if the Trump branch maintains power she is just another back bencher, and one that will eventually lose in a primary. She’s fighting for her political life. The reality is, the fight is already over. The Bush/Cheney dynasties have already crumbled. Even if the Trumpists lose, no one in the Party is going to be saying, “We are so wrong and should have listened to the old guard! Quick, let’s put them back on the throne!”

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  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The reality is, the fight is already over. The Bush/Cheney dynasties have already crumbled.

    Respectfully disagree, I guess. I mean…yes the dynasties are pretty non-existent at this point.
    But I think Cheney is playing the long game, and clearly she is on the “right” side. She’s obviously gearing up for a Presidential run. One can imagine Trump becoming increasingly irrelevant, especially as his legal woes increase. People like MT Greene and Boebert are just going to look increasingly silly. And in a political fight between Cheney and McCarthy…who you gonna pick? Who is McConnell going to pick?
    And in the meantime Cheney is going to give the 1/6 commission credibility.
    Ultimately I think it’s going to come down to two camps in the Republican party, and if I were a Republican…I’d be in Cheney’s camp, not Trump’s.

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  3. charon says:

    Cheney is pretty hard right, but apparently the old-fashioned sort that works within the system and plays by the rules. That doesn’t work for win-no-matter-what which is how the Trumper faction is.

    4
  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    Cheney’s smart. She knows she’s never leading the crazy train, so she’s betting the Trump Cult weakens and fades. Then she’s positioned to be the leader of a reconstituted GOP. She’s not likely to win that bet, but it’s the best bet she’s got.

    16
  5. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think you have it right. History is likely to repeat, the Republican primaries will be a crowded clown car. I hold the minority opinion that Trump will fade from view. Every GOP with a national reputation, or thinks he has one, and can get a couple million by becoming the pet of some billionaire, will run. It will once again be Snow White and the dozen or two dwarfs. Last time it sorted into Trumpist and not Trumpist. If it does again, Cheney hopes it will flip, her as the not Trumpist and the rest of the crowd splitting the Trumpist vote. With a crowded field, it’s odds against everybody. It’s odds against for Cheney too, but it really is her main chance.

    I assume she’s inherited daddy’s advisers and funders. She’s likely taking a calculated political risk. That, or she really is taking a principled stand for demo… My fingers refuse to finish that preposterous sentence.

    13
  6. charon says:

    @gVOR08:

    Even if Cheney does not win, (she likely won’t) she will amass a pile of delegates which will get her some leverage, visibility and credibility.

    3
  7. Scott F. says:

    @gVOR08:

    I assume she’s inherited daddy’s advisers and funders. She’s likely taking a calculated political risk. That, or she really is taking a principled stand for demo…

    Liz Cheney is taking a principled stand – just not one for democracy. She’s every bit as anti-majoritarian as her party and every bit as authoritarian as her father. I just think she understands that Trumpism ultimately hurts the minority rule project in American governance.

    Authoritarianism’s “selling” point to a broader electorate is that it is orderly. Authoritarianism avoids the messiness of democracy in favor of the stability and security of the masses being ruled by their betters. Despite their anti-elite rhetoric, this is what the donor-class of the GOP and country club Republicans really want – rule by the gentry over the hoi polloi citizenry and trickle down prosperity. Trumpism is populist and unruly. You can’t have that and still pretend your brand of governance will work for everybody.

    6
  8. Barry says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: “But I think Cheney is playing the long game, and clearly she is on the “right” side. She’s obviously gearing up for a Presidential run. ”

    I would agree with this, but believe that she’s losing. Right now one can count number of non-treasonous Trumpscum Reps on the finders of one hand (assuming that one has lost three fingers).

    She’s going to go down. Even if she wins re-election, she’s an apostate from the GOP, and will never rise, barring some mega-disaster for the GOP. I can’t see what sort of disaster is likely in the next decade that would destroy the GOP’s leadership, down several levels.

    1
  9. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Now here I have an opinion about Liz and I agree. As it happens, I once worked with her in a fashion, in my old central bank advisor days, when she was in the Bush administration in State Department.

    She is very smart and very disciplined. And indeed she plays a long game.

    She had a unique interest in making some long and higher risk (in bureaucratic terms) plays on funding private sector oriented financial sector reform.

    The few times I interacted I was quite impressed although generally I had (as people who knew my blogging then know) rather a contempt for the broad Bush the Younger adminstration (ah but now almost fond memories as compared to the Orange Cretin).

    I should not write her off, she’s a rather more steely and clever player than McCarthy who seems to be a spineless responder to the moment opportunist. And it is my understanding from her old State days and people who worked with her, she knows her way around a political knife fight.

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  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    When we consider the future of the R party, it is important to acknowledge that Trumpism will not outlive the TFG. Whether he crashes due to the fact that he can’t refinance the loans that come due next year, chooses not to run in 2024 or runs and loses, once the rubes realize their hero is done, Trumpism collapses. There is no heir and the pretenders who are scurrying around in hopes of becoming the heir will eat each other.

    Trump R populism will fracture into dozens of factions providing an opportunity for a minority, but integrated faction of the party to rise to the top. That is what Cheney and other anti-Trump Rs are counting on. There are hundreds of GOP office holders that pledge unenthusiastic fealty to TFG, due to popularity with the voters, not his program. When he’s gone, they’ll be looking for leadership that aligns with their political world view that they have confidence can succeed. Cheney and others will be that lode stone.

    1
  11. Kathy says:

    There’s no reason why Cheney can’t get along with trump. What if she invited him to join her and her dad on a hunting trip?

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  12. drj says:

    @Lounsbury:

    I should not write her off

    I am sure that Cheney is quite adept at political manoeuvring.

    I just don’t think she has anything to offer to the Fox News/OAN crowd.

    Furthermore, the “serious” Republican voters have probably been a minority in the GOP coalition since at least Reagan. There’s simply not enough warm bodies to put her over the top, I’d guess.

    1
  13. charon says:

    The power of Trump and Trumpism rests on Trump’s power to meddle in primary elections with endorsements and attacks. That power – of Trumpism – will fade away with Trump’s various issues (health, financial, legal).

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Trump R populism will fracture into dozens of factions providing an opportunity for a minority, but integrated faction of the party to rise to the top.

    Pre-Trump, people like Cheney were powerful, while the Christian Right was furnishing the warm bodies needed to win elections. Post-Trump, the religious people will (I predict) dominate leaving less power for the more traditional Cheney type people.

    1
  14. Michael Cain says:

    Re several of the comments about Liz Cheney playing the long game… My immediate question is “Using what as a power base?” Her state party sanctioned her and asked her to resign. TFG says he will endorse one of the people who have filed to challenge her in the primary. She lost her leadership position in Congress. Her seat is from a tiny state — it’s not like a Florida or Texas that has a large number of EC votes.

    4
  15. Barry says:

    @Lounsbury: “And it is my understanding from her old State days and people who worked with her, she knows her way around a political knife fight.”

    Samurai vs peasants with guns, IMHO.

  16. Barry says:

    @Sleeping Dog: “Trumpism will not outlive the TFG. ”

    Trumpism will, in the sense that Trump blew through a large number of barriers, and showed that they were nonexistent (at least, for Republicans).

    5
  17. Jen says:

    There are two big groups to consider when talking about “the GOP.” You have the voters, and you have the checkbooks. Yes, some of the GOP voters are anti-Trump, and yes, some of the checkbooks are solidly pro-Trump.

    But I’m guessing there’s a substantial cohort of the money guys/gals who desperately want an alternative to the Trump Loons.

    Cheney is following the money. That’s smart…but I don’t know how far it will carry her.

    3
  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Jen:
    My guess is this will sort itself out as Cheney vs. DeSantis.

    1
  19. Kathy says:

    @Barry:

    There’s a current in history and political studies that considers fascism to be a style of governance rather than an ideology.

    I wouldn’t call trumpism a style of governance, at least not a successful one, but it’s definitely a style of politics, more specifically electoral politics. The Ass was pretty much campaigning all term long, if not every day.

    Features include displaying no shame at all, never backing down, never admitting a mistake or error, constant attacks on enemies real or imagined, wild exaggerations about real or imagined enemies (Critical Race Theory anyone?), wild exaggerations about one’s own accomplishments s(mostly imagined), constant media exposure, blaming someone else for one’s mistakes and failures, tons of chutzpah, and more.

    The constant media exposure was crucial for Trump. See how quickly he felt diminished the instant he was banned from social media.

    Much of this will survive the Great Ass. We’ve seen many of these methods adopted by GOP figures. Notably, Liz Cheney has not adopted this style.

    1
  20. dazedandconfused says:

    “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about January 6th than you are,”

    2
  21. Scott F. says:

    @Jen:
    Agreed. The checkbooks want the authoritarianism without the riff raff. And with the SCOTUS decision earlier this week, dark money is going to beat Get Out The Vote.

    1
  22. Barry says:

    @MarkedMan: “Cheney is an interesting case study here. She is descended from Republican royalty and was on track to simply walk into a major role in the party and the nation. ”

    Note that the Bush family was much bigger the Cheney family. Trump wiped his @ss with Jeb’s face, and now Neil is now, uh, … ‘orally serving’ Trump to have a hope in h*ll of a political career.

    IMHO, her network is now useless, because most of it will be people who are reorienting towards the new powers in the GOP, or people who won’t change, and are irrelevant.

  23. Barry says:

    @Scott F.: “And with the SCOTUS decision earlier this week, dark money is going to beat Get Out The Vote.”

    At this point, the GOP in far too many cases Chooses the Vote.

  24. Jen says:

    @Barry: I think you mean George P. Bush, the TX land commissioner, rather than Neil, right? I haven’t heard of Neil getting into politics, but of course it isn’t impossible.

  25. Lounsbury says:

    Well, I should expect the Lefty insights here have all the persipacious insight as they had in the hot months of 2020 and the pious declarations around defund and the like.

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott F.:

    Authoritarianism’s “selling” point to a broader electorate is that it is orderly. Authoritarianism avoids the messiness of democracy in favor of the stability and security of the masses being ruled by their betters

    As Shaw said, “ Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” The trick is to for the authoritarian to seem a “man of the people’. Hitler and Mussolini did that. Stalin did that. And Trump pulled it off. How, as a Manhattan “billionaire”, he got away with it is a source of constant amazement.

    Trump may be “populist and unruly”, but the Republican elites have depended on faux populism for a couple decades, and Trump’s is only slightly more genuine. He mostly pitched racism, but did pay lip service to health care and Social Security. But he didn’t do anything about them.

    The establishment have to be deciding if they can ride the Trumpist tiger a bit longer or if the unwashed are going to actually demand something that might raise the elites taxes. Cheney seems to be betting they’re getting afraid of the tiger. I would love to know where Chuckles Koch’s money is going right now. Cheney can probably ask him. But with John Roberts on the job, I’ll never find out.

    1
  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I suspect that the GOP would be better off with a Cheney-type doing dog whistling on race and immigration and supply-side on shoveling the wealth of the nation up to the top where “the creators” are, but the base is probably gonna want George Wallace’s equivalent screaming “n!&&3r! n!&&3r! n!&&3r!” from now on. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of George Wallace types in the GOP. Lynn Cheney may even decide to become one. It depends on how badly she wants to win.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Trump R populism will fracture into dozens of factions providing an opportunity for a minority, but integrated faction of the party to rise to the top. That is what Cheney and other anti-Trump Rs are counting on.

    I’ll agree to the extent that without trump, trumpism will inevitably collapse. After the failure of his latest rally where people were leaving halfway thru because he wasn’t crazy enough, I’m not sure it isn’t already collapsing. The only thing I see following it is several chaotic primaries and some lost elections. Something/someone will rise to the top but I don’t think it will ever be Cheney or any of the other present day never trumpers.

    The GQPers are addicted to the crazy coming from FOX, OAN, Newsmax, etc. and they aren’t going to settle for anything less, not any time soon anyway. By the time the crazy finally subsides, I think Cheney et al will be well past their “Sell By” date.

  29. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I’m not sure it will be Cheney either, but it will be someone Cheney-like who can capture the deep pockets. That won’t be the would be Trump heirs.

  30. Unsympathetic says:

    This thread’s “debate” is a distinction without a difference. Cheney and Trump [and all associated lackeys, hangers-on, etc] agree on every policy.. so I’ll be fighting whoever wins that grudge match. It’s a trumped-up battle in which nobody wins but the 7 octogenarian donors who comprise the true Republican constituency.

    1
  31. Ken_L says:

    Cheney is off with the pixies if she thinks Trump Republicans will ever forgive her for what they see as her repeated acts of treachery. Her best hope of a future in public life, should she lose her primary in Wyoming, is an appointment by a grateful Democratic Party to some government position like an ambassadorship.

    The Trump Republicans’ position on January 6 is comically incoherent. They claim to have all sorts of questions about the event, but resolutely oppose any investigation that might find the answers. If they refuse to nominate members to the select committee, which seems likely to be their position, how are they going to respond to damning evidence that emerges about the insurrection? Bleat “fake news” on Twitter every few days?

  32. Barry says:

    @Jen: yes, my bad.

  33. Barry says:

    @Lounsbury: No valid points to make?

  34. Barry says:

    @gVOR08: “The establishment have to be deciding if they can ride the Trumpist tiger a bit longer or if the unwashed are going to actually demand something that might raise the elites taxes. ”

    The unwashed are very well housebroken in that regard.

    Also, as I see it, the former establishment has been bucked off and eaten.

  35. Barry says:

    @Sleeping Dog: “I’m not sure it will be Cheney either, but it will be someone Cheney-like who can capture the deep pockets. That won’t be the would be Trump heirs.”

    IMHO, DeSantis is extremely well-positioned.