The most successful aspect of election efforts in 2020 is indisputable: It’s Kevin McCarthy and the House Republicans. That’s not something you can argue against. Look at the scoreboard. In an election where all the smart people said they would lose seats, they didn’t just gain, they gained significantly. They did this through smart recruiting, wise expenditures, and by hitting the right political tone in a very challenging cycle.
Mitch McConnell and the Senate leadership team did not do this. Ultimately, their people were proven wrong in their predictions, both in anticipating disaster in November and then in projecting arrogant confidence that the 600 vs. 2,000 thing wouldn’t hurt them in the Georgia runoffs. I was told their ground game was excellent, and it would do the job. Instead, both candidates lost by enough that you can’t even blame it on a Trump beef with the secretary of state or, even more ludicrously — looking at you, AEI folks — signing the NDAA.
Liz Cheney was not a part of this uniquely successful cycle. She was in no way a meaningful part of this. Electoral politics, recruitment, fundraising — it is not really her thing. But she claimed credit for it at the time nonetheless, so leadership House folks who know the way Liz can be just rolled their eyes and moved on.
As a member of leadership, when Cheney’s stance in favor of impeaching President Trump was announced, it was trumpeted widely by the media. Along with the New York Times report about McConnell’s positioning on the issue, it looked for a moment like something meant to cause a stampede. But the buffalo saw that cliff, and they didn’t like the look of it. Cheney ultimately would convince just nine other members in voting for this rushed impeachment, a joke of an act with no hearings, no investigation, no process whatsoever.
Cheney branded her vote as a response to the greatest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. I don’t know why she didn’t workshop that line beforehand, or if everyone in her office is just too scared to laugh. But now this ineffectual impeachment, which looks to be so irrelevant it barely trended over a renewed focus on TikTok sea shanties, is the core of her contribution to the early days of the post-Trump GOP.
McConnell, having realized he did not have the votes to achieve some politically pointless rejection of Trump, has said he will not have an emergency session after all. (Read Chris Bedford here on 4 Reasons McConnell’s Impeachment Blunder Is Doomed To Failure.) Cheney has been left on her own, and that’s a pretty big matzo ball hanging out there. A mere 42 members are needed to force her to stand for a leadership election again.
Whether she sticks around or is rejected by a conference already fed up with her anti-incumbent donations, Cheney is now persona non grata. The pre-election fantasy — Politico compared her to Margaret Thatcher! — is dashed. Where she would lead, precious few would follow.
The Wyoming GOP sends a “message” to Cheney & shares some of the “outcry” they’ve received about her impeachment vote:
“We are receiving the message loud and clear that what happened yesterday is a true travesty for Wyoming and the country.” https://t.co/ML6o30H38i
— Melanie Zanona (@MZanona) January 14, 2021
There was a group of people who used to run things in the Republican Party, and she made the mistake of listening to them instead of listening to the people. Steve Hayes, who now runs the Dispatch, concludes his piece arguing for impeachment by saying the party doesn’t deserve to survive. Well, as someone who’s frequently favored positions with similarly lopsided outcomes, it’s time to deal with reality: It’s 197-10 for the party he wants in the one branch of the GOP that blew the doors off in this election. That 10 doesn’t look like a national conservative coalition that works to me.