It’s Wednesday morning as I pen this and Liz Cheney’s expected defeat in the Wyoming primary is reality. A lot of people have to be asking the question. “What’s next Liz?” and she has to be asking herself that. I’ll explore my guesses today.
The immediate answer is to redouble her efforts on the January 6th Committee. It is obvious that her main concern since 1/6 has been to prevent Donald Trump from ever serving in the White House again. In that endeavor I fully support her. The futures of America and the Republican party hang in the balance.
But what happens beyond that? In political terms the 2022 cycle is over for her and the future starts with the 2024 cycle.
Cheney has already confirmed what many of us suspected/hoped for – that she might take a shot at the GOP nod for president in 2024. To get to the bottom line first, I don’t think she has much of a chance of winning it. Unless it is a one-on-one with Trump (which, for a variety of reasons, I doubt it would be) I don’t see her polling much better than in single digits. Ah, but could she make an impact and even possibly be a spoiler? That is the real question especially if her primary mission is to stop Trump.
While, almost without exception, I disagree with Cheney on policy I have to admit she is very smart. She is also principled; we just disagree on policy. Those two traits set her apart from almost all of the other GOP wannabes including Trump. There are a few who have some functioning grey matter (i.e. Ron DeSantis and Ted Cruz) but they all go with the flow having no real principles. Then we have Trump and a band of others including Mike Pence whose “elevators” don’t exactly make it to the penthouse. What many of us would look forward to is Cheney being on the same debate stage with Trump. It would be like me taking on the heavyweight champion of the world. (Hint: Trump wouldn’t be playing the part of the champ; more like the chump.)
As in 2016, many of the wannabes will try to out-Trump Trump. It didn’t work! Just ask Little Marco.
The reality is that the RNC will control the debates. Trump controls the RNC. He doesn’t like to debate in the first place and certainly isn’t going to subject himself to Cheney in a cerebral contest. My guess is that as much as I’d love to watch them, they would not happen.
Now we come to what politicians called earned media and the rest of us call free media. Cheney attacking Trump (a/k/a telling the truth on him) would certainly “sell” and our almost exclusively for-profit media is in constant pursuit of eyeballs and/or ears. The issue is that the right wing media is corrupted and in fear of Trump. That is the media that Republican primary voters pay attention to. They don’t watch MSNBC or CNN. They don’t read the New York Times or the Washington Post.
If Trump remains strong and Cheney doesn’t enter the race – two big ifs at this point – I see Trump gliding to the ’24 GOP nod. If Cheney enters the race Trump will make sure that a multitude of others do. With good reason he feels he can’t be beat in a crowded GOP field. Trump won’t take on Cheney one-on-one.
Cheney’s best chance of beating Trump is as part of the 1/6 Committee with uncoordinated assists from Fani Willis and Trish James.
The biggest contribution to America Cheney can make after January is to help return the Republican Party to what it was prior to 2009. I disagree with almost everything they stood for but at least I felt they believed in American democracy. America’s voters deserve a choice; at present they really don’t have one.
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