I must give congratulations where congratulations are due, and today, my praise must go to Liz Cheney’s dedicated public relations team, which has done what I felt was impossible—and that is to style the Cheney daughter as a brave defender of democracy. I mean, just check out this New York Times profile!
The profile, which mentions that Cheney voted for Donald Trump last November but quickly adds that she “came to regret it immediately,” is full of details and quotes that together paint Cheney as a principled patriot. It even includes this tidbit, that Cheney received so many death threats after she voted to impeach Trump the second time and was very public in her criticism that she spent almost $60,000 to hire a security detail. From the Times:
Ms. Cheney had spent much of a recent congressional recess in Wyoming and yet was rarely seen in public. The appearances she did make — a visit to the Chamber of Commerce in Casper, a hospital opening (with her father) in Star Valley — were barely publicized beforehand, in large part for security concerns. She has received a stream of death threats, common menaces among high-profile critics of Mr. Trump, and is now surrounded by a newly deployed detail of plainclothes, ear-pieced agents.
Her campaign spent $58,000 on security from January to March, including three former Secret Service officers, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Ms. Cheney was recently assigned protection from the Capitol Police, an unusual measure for a House member not in a leadership position. The fortress aura around Ms. Cheney is reminiscent of the “secure undisclosed location” of her father in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.
But none of us should allow ourselves to be fooled. As Adam Serwer wrote recently, in previous years, Cheney herself eagerly participated in so much of what she now laments about both Trump and today’s Republican Party. Via the Atlantic:
During the Obama administration, Cheney was a Fox News regular who, as was the fashion at the time, insisted that the president was secretly sympathetic to jihadists. She enthusiastically defended the use of torture, dismissed the constitutional right to due process as an inconvenience, and amplified the Obama-era campaign to portray American Muslims as a national-security threat.Until the insurrection, she was a loyal Trumpist who frequently denounced the Democratic Party. “They’ve become the party of anti-Semitism; they’ve become the party of infanticide; they’ve become the party of socialism,” she said in 2019. Her critics now, such as Scalise and the buffoonish Representative Matt Gaetz, formerly gushed over her ability to bring, as the Times put it in 2019, “an edge to Republican messaging that was lacking.”
That “edge” was Cheney’s specialty from the moment she emerged as a rising star in the GOP. In 2010, Cheney launched a McCarthyite crusade against seven unnamed attorneys in the Obama-era Justice Department who had previously represented terrorism suspects held in the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay. The Bush administration’s assertions of imperial power in the War on Terror violated the Constitution many times over—the conservative majority on the Supreme Court agreed—and the lawyers who represented detainees were defending the fundamental constitutional right to counsel. They were affirming the integrity of the American legal system; Cheney smeared them as terrorist sympathizers, as The Enemy.
At any rate, grifters are gonna grift, and it sure seems that the entire Cheney family, in fact, is cannily using Liz’z turn in the spotlight to rehabilitate their soiled public images. Via the Times:
Ms. Cheney has come to view the current circumstances with Mr. Trump in the same apocalyptic terms. The difference is that today’s threat resides inside the party in which her family has been royalty for nearly half a century.
“He is just deeply troubled for the country about what we watched President Trump do,” Ms. Cheney said of her father. “He’s a student of history. He’s a student of the presidency. He knows the gravity of those jobs, and as he’s watched these events unfold, certainly he’s been appalled.”
As the Times noted, Cheney (Liz, not Dick) is possibly considering a run for president in 2024.