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Press: Let us now praise Liz Cheney

Press: Let us now praise Liz Cheney
© Greg Nash

It’s Washington’s latest conundrum: Nobody quite knows what to make of Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn Cheney House Democrats to Schumer: Vote again on Jan. 6 probe Cheney compares Trump claims to Chinese Communist Party: 'It's very dangerous' Stefanik pregnant with her first child MORE (R-Wyo.). According to pundits, she’s either a hero or a grand-stander; a martyr or an opportunist; a truth-teller or a traitor. And even those who applaud her for standing up to Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE’s “Big Lie” are quick to limit their praise to what Cheney says today, but not for anything she said or did in the past.  

Which is fair, but which also makes things more complicated than they have to be. Let’s all agree: Liz Cheney has no perfect record (name me one politician who does). And her’s is particularly troubling. As a candidate for Senate in 2013, she threw her own sister under the bus by campaigning against same-sex marriage. She tacitly endorsed the birther conspiracy against Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage Queen Elizabeth will need to call upon her charm for Biden's visit Is Biden the new FDR or LBJ? History says no MORE. And, most notably, she embraced and trumpeted her father’s “Big Lie” about weapons of mass destruction that led us into the Iraq war and, in fact, paved the way for Serial Liar Donald Trump.

But, in a very real sense, that’s beside the point. Cheney’s sins of yesterday don’t cancel out the reality of today. Which is this: Among leaders of a Republican Party that has completely lost its way, only Liz Cheney is making any sense. Among Republicans who have swallowed Trump’s “Big Lie,” only Liz Cheney is telling the truth. And, for telling the truth, Cheney will be booted this week from her perch as No. 3 House Republican in a coup led by No. 1 Trump Sycophant, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyPelosi, leaders seek to squelch Omar controversy with rare joint statement Omar: I wasn't equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries Schumer bemoans number of Republicans who believe Trump will be reinstated: 'A glaring warning' MORE (R-Calif.).

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In the big picture, Wednesday’s Republican Caucus vote will not only be the end of Cheney’s leadership position, it will mark the end of the Republican Party as we once knew it. As Cheney herself noted in her recent column in the Washington Post, “the Republican Party is at a turning point.” And what’s unfathomable — indeed, what will go down in history as one of the biggest blunders in American politics — is what the Republican Party’s fighting about.

Liz Cheney’s not being dumped because she disagrees with what used to be basic Republican principles like smaller government, more personal freedom, lower taxes, or less federal regulation. She boasts a 98 percent positive rating from the conservative Heritage Foundation. Cheney’s being booted for one reason only: Because she rejects Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that he, and not Joe BidenJoe BidenPutin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting How the infrastructure bill can help close the digital divide Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE, actually won the 2020 election. And McCarthy has made embrace of that lie, for which there is zero evidence, the litmus test for whether or not you’re still a true Republican. In other words, according to McCarthy, you have to be willing to lie to be a good Republican. Unbelievable!

To her credit, Cheney not only rejects that lie, she warns that embracing it will make it even more difficult for Republicans to win back control of Congress and the White House. How can they win in 2022 or 2024, she argues, when they’re still focused on contesting the outcome of 2020?

Anybody with half a brain knows that Cheney’s right. Unfortunately, that small circle does not include Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseWisconsin state lawmaker compares museum mask policy to Nazi Party Overnight Health Care: Public option plan left out of Biden budget proposal | House Republicans demand congressional probe into COVID-19 origin | Half the total US population have received at least one vaccine dose House Republicans demand congressional probe into COVID-19 origin MORE (R-La.), Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE (R-Texas), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyGOP's attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack Senate Republicans delaying Biden OPM nominee's confirmation MORE (R-Mo.), Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhy the Democrats need Joe Manchin Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain MORE (R-Ky.), or especially not Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Lindsey Graham: Dismissal of Wuhan lab leak theory cost Trump 2020 election Tim Scott: Could be 'very hard' to reach police reform deal by June deadline MORE (R-S.C.), who told Fox News “we can’t grow without him” — after Trump lost them the House, the Senate, and the White House and unleashed a mob of supporters to storm the Capitol.

Under Kevin McCarthy, House Republicans have decided the essence of the Republican Party is to sell the lie rather than tell the truth. They’re making a fatal mistake. When they lose in 2022, they’ll wish they’d listened to Liz Cheney.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”