Last night was Liz Cheney’s breakout moment. As Cheney read the various text messages from various Fox News luminaries and Donald Trump Jr. to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, she milked the moment, lingering over memorable phrases such as “he’s got to condemn this shit ASAP.”
And yet Sonny boy’s plea was ignored. The old man reveled in the feculent mayhem. Once seen as a neoconservative ogress, Cheney has now achieved full redemption, morphing into the darling of the mainstream media for her refusal to dismiss the mob on January 6 as a bunch of tourists who had accidentally strayed into the Capitol.
This is Cheney’s High Noon. Even as many of her compadres in the GOP still cower before Trump, she’s the lone gunslinger who refuses to abandon her threatened hometown. As the retired sheriff tells Will Kane, “People gotta talk themselves into law and order before they do anything about it. Maybe because down deep they don’t care.” Cheney does.
Even if Cheney loses her reelection bid in Wyoming, she cannot really lose. She’s already won: her national profile is higher than it has ever been. She’s being touted as a possible Republican candidate in 2024 (though I would wager that former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former vice-president Mike Pence will also clamber into the ring, whether Trump does or not).
The remnants of the Republican establishment are already coalescing behind her. This past October, former President George W. Bush, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Karl Rove attended a Cheney fundraiser in Dallas. As for Democrats, Cheney offers the kind of warrior they just can’t seem to produce themselves, a spear-carrier who knows how to lance the opposition. She’s all in, steadily upping the ante with Trump.
Last night, Cheney asked, “Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’s proceedings?” This was a specific reference to US Code 1505, which states that it’s a felony to obstruct the “due and proper administration of the law.”
Small wonder that Trump keeps ordering his minions to not cooperate with the committee. But former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has already gravely undermined that strategy by handing over thousands of documents. This cache is more than likely to serve as an El Dorado of information for it.
What was Meadows thinking? Meadows himself seems to have functioned as the “hello, central” for every lunatic conspiracy that the loons surrounding Trump could concoct. The pliant Meadows probably didn’t have the imagination to devise them himself. But he was there on the Trump call to try and badger Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to try and find enough votes to overturn the results.
Then there was the thirty-eight-page PowerPoint presentation from retired Army colonel Phil Waldron. Waldron himself says he met with Meadows “maybe eight to ten times” before January 6. One of the pearls of wisdom his document contained was to propose that Trump declare a national security emergency and call out the National Guard to secure the ballots cast in the election.
A strange thing for a former member of a group that called itself the Freedom Caucus to be contemplating. But as Sam Tanenhaus astutely observes in the Washington Post, the vigilante wing of the GOP is intent on preserving and expanding freedom — for itself. The biggest obstacle to its designs isn’t Joe Biden, but Cheney.
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