Message? What message?
You mean ineffectually farting out press releases about “woke corporations” and Dr. Seuss while Biden spends $6 trillion? That message?
To the extent the modern GOP has any “message,” it’s this: The results of the 2020 election were questionable at best and the January 6 insurrection was no big deal.
Which means the two sides of the Cheney debate are actually in heated agreement. The anti-Cheneys accuse her of being wildly out of step with her caucus and the party’s base. To which the pro-Cheneys say, damn right.
A marriage like that can’t last. If there were any doubt remaining after yesterday that the caucus will try to oust her after the House returns on May 12, Kevin McCarthy going on Fox this morning to note the “concerns” of his members about her anti-Trump commentary should remove it. He defended her in February when the MAGA wing of the caucus tried to remove her from leadership. It seems clear from this that he won’t defend her when they try again. Watch, then read on:
“I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message” — Kevin McCarthy indicates on Fox & Friends that Liz Cheney is likely toast as House Republican Conference Chair pic.twitter.com/afP2D971Zq
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 4, 2021
Cheney’s team responded after McCarthy’s appearance:
Here’s a statement from @Liz_Cheney comms dir @JeremyAdler: “This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan 6. Liz will not do that. That is the issue.”
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) May 4, 2021
That is indeed the issue. Most of the party wants to continue to perpetuate those lies and whitewash the riot and most of their elected leaders are either eager to do the same or too fearful of crossing the base to do otherwise. So what’s left to talk about?
Cheney no longer fairly reflect the views of the House GOP caucus on the most important issue of the day. All we’re arguing about is whether she’s too good to be a member of this crew or not good enough.
McCarthy and his allies are already eyeing replacements for her and, for reasons of basic identity politics, appear to have decided that her successor needs to be a woman. Tough break for Jim Banks, who’s clearly eyeing Cheney’s position:
House Republicans are moving closer to ousting Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from leadership, and are already considering replacements — including Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), congressional aides tell Axios…
Worth noting: None of these women voted to impeach Trump this year or in 2019.
Stefanik and Walorski objected to the Jan. 6 Electoral College certification of the presidential election.
Stefanik must have the inside track. Not only is she young, she’s refashioned herself for cynical reasons as an ardent Trumpist. That might not be a selling point for McCarthy, since the leadership still wants Trump-skeptics to feel comfortable voting Republican. But I don’t know that any House Republican who’s merely lukewarm on Trump will be willing to bear the burden of replacing Cheney. Yeah, sure, they get a leadership position out of it, but they’ll also be known as the “docile” woman whom McCarthy and the caucus turned to because Liz Cheney boldly refused to heed the omerta surrounding the “stop the steal” campaign and insurrection whitewash. The party needs someone who’s sufficiently eager in her ambition to ingratiate herself to MAGA fans that she’ll take the heat in the media and among Democrats of being known as the scab who replaced Cheney. Stefanik will do it, no doubt.
Pelosi has already begun needling McCarthy over that, in fact:
— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) May 4, 2021
Democrats will have a field day with the idea of swapping out Cheney for a female member who’s more “obedient” to him and Trump.
The excuse once she’s gone will be that she simply wouldn’t move past from the election, that she was dragging the party back into the past as it tried to move into the future. But the undisputed leader of the party is guilty of the same thing:
Cheney’s decided that “stop the steal” and the insurrection were civic offenses of sufficient gravity that she won’t pretend to have moved on from them already when asked, whatever that means for the GOP. She wants the Republican position to be, unequivocally, that both were atrocious betrayals of democracy that can never be repeated. Most of the party disagrees. So, again, what’s left to talk about?