Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only
My guess is that somewhere in heaven today, former President Reagan is observing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and saying “Margaret, that’s my gal,” and Margaret Thatcher is replying “Ronald, in our time, real conservatives had principles and courage, and she has both, and too many of your Republicans today have neither!”
And my guess is that somewhere in Washington or a state capital there is a prominent Republican talking to friends and associates about running for president in 2024, as a true Republican and principled conservative — and warning GOP friends about dangers to Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections if they run under a cult of personality, blindly obeying the losing politician who lost the House, the Senate and the presidency between 2018 and 2020.
Like Reagan, Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney practices a true conservatism and big-tent Republicanism, based on ideas she debates with opponents without creating enemies lists.
Former President Trump, by contrast, treats most of the Republicans named above like they are enemies, making a mockery of Reagan’s 11th commandment that Republicans should not attack Republicans. He accuses a long list of opponents of treason, making a mockery of Reagan’s willingness to negotiate with Democrats such as then-Speaker Tip O’Neill (Mass.). He praises a Russian dictator who is attacking America, making a mockery of Reagan’s defense of democracy against foreign enemies.
Liz Cheney knows, and believes, and says, that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen and to suggest it was is a big lie that threatens our democracy. Conservative and Republican judges and Supreme Court justices, and conservative and Republican election officials in key states, agree with her strongly.
Liz Cheney knows, and believes, and says that the attack against the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a crime creating a line that must never be crossed, based on a big lie that must never be spoken, to overturn an election that would be the ultimate crime against democracy that must never be committed.
Liz Cheney knows, and believes, and says that it is politically destructive to Republicans to alienate so many women, independents and educated voters. Unlike Trump but like Reagan with O’Neill, she does not believe it is wrong to shake hands, fist bump or negotiate with a president of the other party who she would try to defeat in an election, but respect after the election.
Only a conservative in name only would meet a Russian dictator who is attacking America and tell him he believes Russian intelligence over American intelligence. Or support global trade protectionism. Or attack our NATO allies. Or support massive deficits when they are proposed by a Republican president but oppose them under a Democratic president. Or attack a courageous American hero such as McCain and say he prefers troops who were never captured. Or publicly attack a long list of former Republican presidents and presidential nominees and speakers.
Republicans are frightened, by Donald Trump.
Republicans are worried, about Donald Trump.
Republicans are fearful, about what happens in future primaries, if they speak out against Trump, and what happens in future general elections, if they do not.
Liz Cheney, by contrast, is fearless. She is a true Republican. She is a principled conservative. She does not believe that Trump should own the future of the Republican Party. She is not afraid to say it.
Liz Cheney is deeply and profoundly concerned, to her timeless credit, about the future of our democracy. She is deeply and profoundly concerned, defending the country she loves, about the future of her party when it is dominated by “big lies” that help America’s enemies, and cult-like politics that divides America and could bring disaster to Republicans in the 2022 and 2024 elections.
Liz Cheney is a true Republican, a principled conservative, a proud patriot and a fierce defender of democracy. I would not vote for her, but bless her for it.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives.