Donald Trump sent an email saying the election had been stolen and Cheney, the Republican No. 3 in the Republic, tweets in response to it, minutes later that “the 2020 presidential election was not stolen.”
The Republican House threatens to dethrone her from her leadership post; the answer is a virtual shrug.
And when asked if she herself rejected the presidential candidacy, the answer was no – as can be expected from any politician.
So what happens to Cheney, the conservative Republican who votes with Trump more than 90 percent of the time?
“Something broke with her on November 3 and January 6,”
; said a GOP strategist who knows her well and supports her. “She thinks it’s a big lie and can’t live with it. It’s kind of amazing.”
Amazingly, yes, especially in this political climate. But one thing is clear: Cheney does not have a comfortable seat at a GOP conference in which more than half subscribe to the Big Lie that President Joe Biden was not properly elected. Win or lose, it’s a battle Cheney doesn’t shy away from. As she has made very clear, she sees the big lie as an existential threat to democracy.
Not long ago, Cheney refused a seat surrounded by gifts in the Wyoming Senate after Senator Mike Enzy announced his retirement. At the time, some Republicans thought she was interested in becoming Parliament’s next speaker. But that was before Jan. 6, before Trump’s second impeachment, before she got to her feet to challenge the former president’s lies by taking on her own conference. The speaker is simply no longer on the cards.
What some Republicans like is that it’s making life difficult for House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who just wants to move on and take his flock on the same page against Biden. But for Cheney – who was very critical of Biden – the party must first go beyond its allegiance to Trump on all fronts.
But she is not only on an island, but also seems to be digging a deeper ditch around her. Whatever the reason, it is clearly on a mission to raise the standard of traditional conservatism – whatever it is now – within the Republican Party. She even went so far as to say that she would not support Trump if he ran for president again in 2024, a bold statement that even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would not make, although he once insisted that Trump was ” provoked the uprising.
Political strategists are what they are, there are already rumors about Cheney’s potential national future: Maybe, just maybe, if Trump decides not to run for president, maybe. There will be a lot of Trumpists – you know who they are – and she may be ready to lead what is left of the CSO, both in the primary elections and in the general elections.
Of course, this is a long-term scenario, because the party base belongs to Trump. And Cheney is a very traditional conservative old-school Republican, like her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. Her campaign would undoubtedly suggest that the Trump era is a dead end and she could turn the party around.
Cheney knows she will never be a member or nominee of MAGA, so she takes another line – not the one with the Trumpers because she has supported Trump’s policies in the past. She simply believes that his election lies have become a threat.
So sure, GOP leaders are angry that she diverted the conference from a clear message against Biden, and it’s true – she did. But she is now playing at a bigger table. And if they are irritated internally and publicly, so be it.
Sometimes, even in politics, what you believe matters.