Rep. Liz Cheney is expected to lose by at least 20 points in today’s primary in Wyoming. But she doesn’t seem to really care. Long known in D.C. circles as hating interactions with Americans outside the beltway, representing Wyoming voters was not something she ever considered a particularly important aspect of her role in D.C.
Listening to the corporate media and the D.C. establishment, one would think Cheney is history’s greatest hero, a political martyr who put “principle over party,” and who courageously stood up against Republican voters and their strong support of the party’s most recent president, support which Beltway insiders find unseemly.
Such simplistic and error-ridden sound bites work well in D.C., but not in the rest of America. CNN went to Wyoming to defend Cheney as “Upholding the rule of law, defending the Constitution,” referring to her work on the Jan. 6 show trial. Wyoming voter Brett Kupec made short shrift of the talking point. “If that was the ‘rule of law,’ why doesn’t [Trump] have a defense team in that courtroom?” Kupec said. “That ain’t the rule of law. That’s a kangaroo court. That’s not the Wyoming way.”
In fact, there’s nothing heroic about denying political enemies due process, or helping your constituents’ political opponents with their Stalinist show trials. Seething hatred of Trump is not a principle, or at least certainly not one worth defending at the expense of the republic and its health.
She’s not the hero that her media fans claim her to be. She’s also not a martyr. This is not some brave Wyomingite who stood strong on principle after she failed to persuade her constituents to follow her. Cheney has always used Wyoming and the Republican Party for personal ambition and to push discredited and politically toxic foreign policy.
She first tried to force herself onto Wyomingites in 2014, surprising actual Wyoming resident Mike Enzi by announcing her plan to primary him for the U.S. Senate seat. Her Facebook post announcing her run was geotagged from her actual home in McLean, Virginia, a place populated by government bureaucrats, defense contractors, and lobbyists. The jeans she wore to pretend she understood Wyoming values stained her hands blue because they were so new. She had to withdraw from that race in disgrace, but was elected to the U.S. House in 2016 after Rep. Cynthia Lummis resigned. She rarely went “home” to Wyoming, and was notorious for canceling events or simply not showing up to them.
Cheney quickly kneecapped Cathy McMorris Rogers to become GOP conference chair, but was ousted within years from that position. It wasn’t just that she joined Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s plot to impeach President Donald Trump, but that she failed to be an effective conference chair, exploiting it for personal gain. Unlike McMorris Rogers, her predecessor, or her successor Elise Stefanik, Cheney didn’t raise meaningful money for other members.
Cheney helped spread false rumors about Russians paying bounties in Afghanistan, a story that was widely used by Republican opponents to harm Trump and his supporters. But she stood by and did little to nothing when Biden led the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Cheney is not a hero, and not a martyr, but a privileged child of establishment D.C., so reliant on her family name that her closing ad used the dynasty she was born into as a crutch.
The media’s Joan of Arc-esque framing has already been in the works for quite some time, after Cheney became a break-out star in this summer’s blockbuster TV hit — the Jan. 6 House committee hearings (season two airs in September) — and vowed to do everything in her power to block Trump from becoming president ever again. A New York Times profile actually described Cheney’s likely primary loss as “her martyrdom” and “a proving ground for her new crusade.” Another piece by The New Yorker makes Cheney sound like one of the 300 Spartans who gave their lives defending Greece in the Battle of Thermopylae. Democrat and actor Alec Baldwin is actually calling Cheney the “Nalvany of our current political culture.” And a Washington Post article hints at a possible presidential run.
Left-wing donors have come out in droves to fill Cheney’s campaign coffers. Cheney’s campaign received $950,000 in contributions from Texas bigwigs alone. She’s raised triple the amount of her opponent, in the tens of millions of dollars. And yet no one is asking genuine questions about why the polls show Cheney losing by nearly 30 points.
Perhaps Beltway elites should take off their Trump Derangement Syndrome-colored glasses and talk to the average Wyoming voter and discover why Cheney’s impending canonization may be a bit premature. Republicans in Wyoming are concerned about inflation and high energy prices. They want someone who works for the state of Wyoming and its constituents and represents conservative values. And yes, they agree with the vast majority of Republican voters that Trump was a very good president who deserves credit for fighting the D.C. establishment that is destroying the country. They hate Cheney’s foreign policy and what it has done to national security.
Americans and their desires are obstacles in the mind of the D.C. beltway. That’s why, after Cheney’s primary loss today, they’ll start grooming her for a presidential run (“Cheney and a small but influential bloc of anti-Trump Republicans have decided that there must be a 2024 candidate who will run as an unabashed opponent of both the ex-president and other contenders who spew his mistruths about the 2020 election,” the Post reports). She’ll be offered multi-million-dollar book deals, embark on a “Trump Apology” speaking tour, and hobnob with Never-Trump elites at Georgetown cocktail parties. Cheney will profit handsomely from these new ventures — her net worth is already estimated at $15 million — as her political capital increases and donors from the left and the right rally to her cause.
Cheney didn’t sacrifice anything by going after Trump and losing her House seat. With media contracts, book deals, and plum positions in the military-industrial complex, she’ll continually be met with thunderous applause by the D.C. establishment that’s grown increasingly detached from Americans. She’s no martyr.
The Federalist’s Editor-in-Chief Mollie Hemingway contributed to this report.