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Mar. 7 2010 - 9:56 am | 304 views | 1 recommendation | 8 comments

How is Liz Cheney going to run for president?

US Vice President Dick Cheney (R), daughter Li...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Joe Hagan’s feature in this week’s New York magazine takes a look not simply at Dick Cheney, but the successors to the genetic political disorder that characterized his years in positions of political power. Hagan makes it clear that Cheney’s daughter Liz is going to be the Kim Jong-Il to father Dick’s Kim Il-Sung, and also how she makes for a much more politically appealing figure than former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

The question is whether or not Cheney the younger will be able to get herself elected to a credible political post in order to run for office like president.

The issue for Liz Cheney is that her career so far has not been distinguished from that of her father’s positions of power. She was placed in the Bush State Department in positions that would allow her to spy on career diplomats who might pursue agendas counter to the Bush White House, and also to implement the insincere neo-conservative vision of ‘democracy promotion’ in the Middle East. But she has never had a political position where she needs to prove her mettle as a decision-maker capable of governing a nation.

In contrast, Cheney the pater familias spent years toiling in the salt mines of Republican Party machinery before making himself the most powerful man in the Bush administration. He established himself early in his political career as chief of staff to Gerald Ford. Cheney went on to serve for more than a decade as a leading Republican Member of Congress, becoming Minority Whip prior to his appointment as George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense. So when Cheney contemplated a run for president in 1996, and was elected Vice President in 2000, he was not merely some dark horse. He could be called a credible political figure with executive and legislative experience relevant to the national vision required of American presidents.

How Liz Cheney will establish these pre-requisites remains unclear. Hagan suggests that she might challenge Democratic Senator Jim Webb of Virginia in 2012 if Republicans are in ascendancy. But that’s a dicey proposition, even excepting for the unlikely possibility that Obama could be the Democratic Party’s next Jimmy Carter. Webb, a Marine with deep ties to national Republicans (he served in Reagan’s Defense Department) has been carefully cultivating a posture on national security issues that is to the right of the Democratic mainstream. In many ways, Webb’s positions on terrorism issues will be difficult for Liz Cheney to campaign against in the cartoonishly McCarthyist manner that her group ‘Keep America Safe’ (note, not ‘Keep America Strong’) has become known for. A 2014 run against Mark Warner would be bad timing for a 2016 presidential bid presuming Obama holds onto the White House, and I have my doubts that Cheney will have a great interest in the varied Congressional districts of Virginia.

The other possibility might be to make a play to join Wyoming’s Congressional delegation. While it’s possible that the Equality State’s Republicans will cotton to a carpet-bagging Cheney clan member dropping in to accept the party’s nomination for office before flying back to DC and never coming back, the actual political mechanics of getting elected to a statewide office are more complicated. Republican Senator John Barrasso, who was elected to complete the term of Craig Thomas in 2008, will presumably want to seek a full term in office in 2012. The other possibility could be a retirement for Wyoming’s other Senator, Mike Enzi, which would solve the problem of Cheney actually needing to get elected. Alternatively, the state’s at-large Congresswoman, Cynthia Lummis, could decide she’s done all the time in Congress she needs by the time 2012 rolls around. But don’t bet on it – Lummis is a career pol who has basically been representing Wyomingites in one form or another since 1979.

So the path is hardly clear for Liz Cheney. While she’s been gifted with her family’s scalpel-like political skills, she’s also been the beneficiary of quite a bit of nepotism that has placed her on a higher plane than she’s ever needed to work for. Performing strongly in positions you didn’t need to fight your way into (consigliere for your all-powerful father) isn’t evidence enough of the complicated political decision-making that a person needs when they run for office, and later run our country.

Maybe Cheney needs to pull a Hillary Clinton and buy a house in Westchester County, New York? If it got Clinton closer to being the Democratic nominee for president than any other woman has ever come, it would work for Cheney.


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  1. collapse expand

    Mr. Roston,

    I was surprised that you did not mention the sticky business of Ms. Cheney’s sister Mary. The other daughter of the former VPOTUS is an open lesbian with a son with her current partner. This should of course be no one’s business but given the central role of anti-gay politics in the Republican Party, it is hard to see how this would not be a drag on the political ambitions Liz Cheney. Saying nothing on the topic, as no doubt would be the preferred approach, would be a tacit acceptance of not only the “gay lifestyle” but also of gay marriage and parenthood. Outside of the more moderate north-eastern states, not the best place to try to establish a base a Republican with national ambitions, having an openly gay sister who Ms. Cheney is not going to denounce for her “choice” of being gay has to be considered a factor.

    • collapse expand

      I have my doubts that it will be a serious issue anywhere she runs for office. John Edwards tried to make it an issue in his vice presidential debate in 2004, and while it was read meat for people on the left shouting ‘hypocrites’, the consensus was that he just came across looking like a dick. The Cheney cult will know how to shank any Republican who tries to bring it up as a primary issue, and in any general she can just not bring up the issue of sexuality.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Mr. Roston,

        While Mr. Cheney’s is popular with the neo-conservative and country club circles of the Republican Pary, it does not extend well into the religious right and the general Republican electorate. This is similar to Mitt Romney’s “Mormon Problem”. No one openly attacked Mr. Romney for being a Mormon but it was a significant factor in his poor performance in the primaries. The same people who are sure that being gay is “lifestyle choice” and pretty certain so is being a Mormon. I doubt anyone would openly attack Ms. Cheney over her sister, certainly no Republican candidate would, but that is what surrogates are for. Further, even if no one uttered a single word about it, it would still be there, troubling the soul of many Republican voters (look how poorly Daughter Cheney’s book did, if she had been viewed as “true beleiver” it would have sold a million copies).

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          I just don’t think book sales and ballot box results are comparable. There were a lot of reservations among movement conservatives about Romney because of his decade of flip-flopping to get elected to top post in Massachusetts. In contrast, the Cheneys don’t flip flop on much. And when you’ve got many of the party’s standard-bearers standing up for you, seeing you as the party’s next great thing (telegenic mother of five who promoted democracy in the Middle East between Girl Scout troop meetings and stopped Obama from closing Gitmo), a lot of concerns like “your sister is a gay” will come out in the wash. If the Enzi scenario I propose comes to pass, it’s even easier to imagine things working out as Republicans are unlikely to launch a serious primary challenge against special election for a Senator Cheney. The bigger questions to me is whether or not Wyoming says “nuh uh” to carpetbagging.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    “credible political figure with executive and legislative experience relevant to the national vision required of American presidents”

    Given what I’ve seen of the “qualified politician” in performance over the last 4 decades I’d have to say that I don’t believe that this means anything to anyone anymore. The vast majority of “credible political figures” you speak of have led this country to the brink of ruin. At this point I feel like we’re at a point where just about anyone can trow their name in the hat regardless of their past or their suitability as defined by the current mechanism of politica.

    Politics in america right now is not unlike that moment when you are riding down a hill on your new shiny bike and become aware that you are going too fast, are in imminent danger… and then you crash so hard you can taste the pain.

    • collapse expand

      I don’t disagree. It’s just that you don’t often see people getting elected to serious positions who have, like Liz Cheney, spent their entire careers in the pundit class. She needs to be a worthy elected before she can even think of aiming at the presidency. 2016 is probably the first year she can credibly pursue that post, and if she really wants it, the road there will be complicated.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    She’s not going to run, and neither will he. 9/11 gave him and his buddies the biggest blank check in history, making him the most powerful man in history, just as they knew it would. Do a search on “catastrophic and catalyzing event”, and make sure you read the source at newamericancentury.org.

    A second 9/11 will complete the take-over. He knows this, and he just waiting till the time is right. http://9112010.com/9112010.html

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