Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) survived an attempt to boot her from her leadership post. Yes, the vote wasn’t even close. Yes, this was a win for the establishment. And yes, she’s still awful. There was a lot of chatter about how the caucus was displeased with her leadership. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said the votes were there to oust Cheney. What the hell happened?
Well, when secret ballots are involved, the signs of Potomac Syndrome can be hidden. It’s a horrible addiction where politicians get a case of lethargy. They all say one thing and do another — all talk, no action. Within those parameters, yeah — I can see why a good chunk of folks chickened out. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also gave a full-throated defense of Cheney during his closed-door meeting (via Politico):
…While the California Republican said he didn’t agree with Cheney’s vote to impeach Donald Trump, McCarthy said she had a right to vote that way. He also said members need to trust their leadership and can’t question every single decision they make.
"I want this leadership team to stay together," he told members, according to a source inside the room.
For her part, Cheney told members that she won’t apologize for her impeachment vote, but she defended why she put out a statement on her position a day before the floor vote — timing that incensed many Republicans, since it handed Democrats a fresh batch of talking points.
But it is unlikely enough to appease a group of conservative hard-liners, who are furious with Cheney and want to oust her from leadership.
Very interested to know what this vote on Liz Cheney would have been like if it were public.— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) February 4, 2021
BREAKING: CHENEY SURVIVES AS GOP CONFERENCE CHAIR, 145-61 VOTE— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) February 4, 2021
Yet, there are other reasons that aren’t just centered on her vote to impeach President Trump. She’s somewhat of a cancer in the locker room here. As Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist pointed out, there’s a difference between being a Republican and being in the leadership of the Republican Party. On the first point, yeah — there’s room for her. In leadership, not so much. For starters, what good are you if you don’t have the charisma to fill the campaign coffers, which was reported in The Wall Street Journal? Second, Hemingway noted Cheney funded a primary opponent to run against incumbent Republican Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY). The one rule that usually binds a caucus with its leadership is the notion that the key persons spearheading the House GOP won’t try to take out incumbent members. Also, Massie’s opponent (via The Federalist):
A few months ago Cheney faced a mini-rebellion over her decision to fund Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie’s primary opponent — a huge no-no for leadership and one that proved even more embarrassing when the primary opponent turned out to be racist.
At the first in-person conference meeting following the outbreak of COVID, members erupted over Cheney breaking the rule about leadership not trying to oust members of her conference. She handled the criticism poorly, saying that Massie — from the more libertarian and anti-war side of the Republican Party — was a “special case.” That alarmed members who share his views, but it also alarmed the liberal members who wondered if they, too, could be viewed as “special cases” for failing to share Cheney’s views.
The Republican conference is always a bit more unruly than the Democrat conference. However, the loyalty afforded Republican leaders is based in part on a belief that leaders won’t sabotage incumbent members. It’s also based on respect for their fundraising and candidate recruitment.
Particularly considering her role in leadership, Cheney’s been criticized for failing to help with candidate recruitment and fundraising. Cheney “lacks some of the popularity and fundraising prowess of other House Republicans,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
She makes special exceptions to boot fellow Republicans. She’s crap at candidate recruitment on that front — and she’s not as polished when it comes to raising the big bucks.
To quote "the Bobs" from "Office Space," Liz, "What would you say you do here?"
Cheney may have survived, but she shouldn’t have — and we can only hope that Wyoming Republicans can finish her off. More voters in the Big W backed Trump than her in 2020, so I wouldn’t be shocked if a primary challenge pops up.