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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Opinion | Liz Cheney, We Have a Memory. You’re No Hero. - The New York Times

Liz Cheney, We Have a Memory. You’re No Hero.

Charles M. Blow 
The New York Times

    Credit...Pool photo by Melina Mara

    Opinion Columnist

    Representative Liz Cheney may lose her leadership role among House Republicans because she hasn’t been slavishly loyal to Donald Trump and the lies he fed the Republican Party.

    Not only did Cheney vote to impeach Trump in January, she also insists that Republicans — who continue to happily regurgitate his lies — tell the truth. (I’m fake-clutching my fake pearls.)

    As The New York Times put it:

    “Her transgression, colleagues say: Ms. Cheney’s continued public criticism of Mr. Trump, her denunciation of his lies about a stolen election and her demands that the G.O.P. tell the truth about how his supporters assaulted democracy during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.”

    This has lifted Cheney to a sort of hero status in the media and political circles. A Joan of Arc in our collective battle against the Big Lie who is willing to let herself be burned at the political stake and to become a martyr for conviction and moral clarity.

    It is a good thing that Cheney is standing on principle and insisting on telling the truth. But that is quite the low bar for a heroine designation.

    Furthermore, I also recognize that there is bad blood between the Trumps and the Cheneys (her father is former Vice President Dick Cheney) that has existed from the time Trump was a candidate in 2016.

    Dick Cheney said in 2015 that Trump’s plan for a Muslim ban “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.” In a letter four months ago also signed by other former secretaries of defense, Cheney insisted that Trump accept that he lost the election in 2020.

    As the letter put it:

    “The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the Electoral College votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.”

    In some way, we are watching a dynastic clash, duplicitous titans fighting to the death.

    Liz Cheney and her father are positioning themselves as protectors of the old order, as paragons of truth and as defenders of our American norms. They want us — and history — to view them as the Republicans who got it right and did the right thing.

    As if we don’t know what they are, as if the horribleness of Trump redeems them for relative measure.

    Nah. No amnesia for me, thank you.

    With respect to Dick Cheney, I ask you to recall just one thing: the torture program under the Bush administration. He’s said that if he had it to do over, he would torture again.

    The torture gene must run in the family, for Liz Cheney praised the Trump administration’s review of the treatment of terrorism suspects. As HuffPost reported:

    “Cheney also asserted that waterboarding works, and that it helped in securing crucial information leading to the capture of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (a debunked theory). ‘It’s been clear, certainly since we stopped the enhanced interrogation program, we’re not even in a position anymore, frankly, where we’re very often capturing people,’ Cheney said. ‘We have nothing to do with people when we do capture them.’”

    Furthermore, in 2009, she refused to denounce birthers on CNN, saying instead of Barack Obama, “People are fundamentally uncomfortable, and they’re fundamentally increasingly uncomfortable with an American president who seems to be afraid to defend America.” She later had to clarify that she, personally, didn’t question Obama’s right to be president.

    In 2010, an ad by Liz Cheney’s “Keep America Safe” group attacked Eric Holder’s Justice Department. It featured an Investor’s Business Daily headline that read, “DOJ: Department of Jihad?” and referred to some of the lawyers the department had hired as the “The Al Qaeda 7.”

    Even Republican lawyers, including Ken Starr, condemned the ad, writing in a letter:

    “To suggest that the Justice Department should not employ talented lawyers who have advocated on behalf of detainees maligns the patriotism of people who have taken honorable positions on contested questions and demands a uniformity of background and view in government service from which no administration would benefit.”

    A few weeks before the 2016 election, when an old tape of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women became public, Cheney said, according to The Associated Press, that while Trump’s comments were appalling, she was still supporting him and that, somehow, Hillary Clinton’s handling of her emails was worse than the Trump admission.

    Yes, it is better that Liz Cheney stands up for the truth about Trump and the election than to oppose it, which puts her at odds with a political party in which truth is the enemy.

    But her present position does not expunge her past positions. The sword she’s falling on is one she has spent her political career brandishing.

    If Cheney is punished by her own party, I will not applaud, but I also will not sob. I sit silently in acknowledgment, as one does, when karma swings low and performs its function."

    Opinion | Liz Cheney, We Have a Memory. You’re No Hero. - The New York Times

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