The Wyoming lawmaker is billing her brave stand against the former President’s stolen election lies as the beginning of a new quest to restore the GOP’s respect for the rule of law, the Constitution, orthodox conservatism and civility — all of which were crushed by the ex-President.
But it’s far from clear that the Republican Party can be saved or that it particularly wants to be, and any evolution away from its new populist, nationalist Trump personality cult may be the work of many years.
Many have tried and all have failed to counter the former reality star’s hostile takeover of the party since he descended his golden escalator at Trump Tower in 2015. Some, like former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, saw their presidential ambitions fade. Others, like Arizona’s Sen Jeff Flake, were driven out of politics entirely. Some, like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, couldn’t beat Trump so they joined him.
So Cheney, who will, in the short term at least, get a national platform to try to build a viable anti-Trump Republican movement, has her work cut out.
“I intend to be the leader, one of the leaders, in a fight to help to restore our party,” Cheney said in an interview that’s airing in full on NBC’s “Today” show Thursday.
Cheney’s decision to sacrifice her career for her principles and in defense of truth will not quickly be forgotten by history.
McCarthy shows few lessons learned from Cheney warnings
Yet the events in Washington within hours of the House GOP vote to strip Cheney of her No. 3 House leadership spot — a way station on a route that some experts thought might end in the speaker’s chair — showed that her restoration project has launched from unpromising beginnings.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy went directly from the meeting that purged Cheney to talks with President Joe Biden and other congressional leaders at the White House. He emerged to utter the kind of bald-faced falsehood that shows that truth is a valueless currency in his party.
“I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election,” McCarthy told reporters. The comment was a sign that not only has the Californian anchored his caucus to Trump in his quest to win back the House in next year’s midterm elections but he’s also beginning to behave like him.
The entire move to oust Cheney was based on her refusal to stop pointing out Trump’s continued lies about a stolen election. McCarthy himself was among 139 House Republicans who objected to Electoral College counts on the day that Trump’s insurrectionist mob invaded the US Capitol. And rarely a day goes by without the ex-President spreading new lies about what happened.
It’s not just in Washington that the legitimacy of the 2020 vote is constantly questioned. A sham recount of votes is underway by pro-Trump Republicans in Arizona, despite multiple officials and courts rejecting claims of fraud. And Republican lawmakers all over the country are passing laws that make it harder to vote based on the ex-President’s lies that millions of his voters now believe.
A head-spinning hearing
Another problem for Cheney and those who want to restore their party is that the former President’s deceitful brand of politics has taken over.
Trump may have left Washington, but the stunt politics in which he schooled his Capitol Hill lieutenants is still going strong.
Several members who took part in the meeting that got rid of Cheney put on a display of Trump-style perfidy at a subsequent committee hearing on Wednesday into the sacking of the Capitol that their hero incited on January 6.
“There was no insurrection,” said Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Georgia Republican who said the invading mob could have been mistaken for tourists.
Another Trump fan, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, sa
Cheney’s Mission Impossible to save the GOP from itself
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