Mary used to be the higher profile Cheney daughter, but now her older sister Liz Cheney is taking the spotlight, defending birthers and waterboarding on Larry King and at a recent "Smart Girl Summit."

A Times profile by Mark Leibovich makes Liz Cheney sound like the Hobgoblin to her dad's Green Goblin. Says Mary Cheney,

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find any daylight at all between Liz's and my father's views. It's not because she's been indoctrinated. It's because he's right.

Right about what, exactly? Well, she told Sam Donaldson that "waterboarding isn't torture." And in the Larry King clip above, she says the reason birthers are so angry is that Obama isn't defending America. Cheney echoed this sentiment at the Nashville Smart Girl Summit, an event for conservative women also attended by such luminaries as Michelle Malkin. In her speech there, she asked,

Mr. President, in a ticking time-bomb scenario, with American lives at stake, are you really unwilling to subject a terrorist to enhanced interrogation to get information that would prevent an attack?

Cheney is currently helping her dad write his memoirs, which she says will occupy her until 2011, but she won't say whether she'll run for office after that. Since Dick Cheney is remembered by many as basically evil incarnate, it's not clear whether she would be a viable candidate — Leibovitch mentions "the question of whether the 'Cheney message' on national security - which essentially translates to an aggressive and interventionist approach - is something the Republican Party should be trumpeting, or burying." But the former VP's approval rating has actually risen since he left office, and some are calling his daughter a promising young "rock star." Conservative blogger Fingers Malloy says she's "one of the fresh faces of our movement," and Republican foreign-policy adviser Dan Senor says, "I think Liz is ably representing the next wave of voices."

It's hard to see someone whose views are identical to Dick Cheney's as a "fresh face," especially since neoconservatism now seems, despite its prefix, hopelessly dated. Nonetheless, Liz Cheney's pro-torture hawkishness and criticisms of Obama are clearly popular with the xenophobic set, if no one else. It's possible to imagine a pretty terrifying 2012 ticket with Sarah Palin at the top and Liz Cheney as VP. We'll take Meghan McCain over that any day.

New Cheney Taking Stage For The G.O.P. [NYT]