Liz Cheney’s thumping defeat in her bid for renomination for Wyoming’s sole seat in the House of Representatives signals again the utter and total defeat of the Bush-Cheney-Romney era of the Republican Party. The neoconservative period of GOP dominance ended when Donald Trump trounced the field during the 2016 primary season. But the avatars of that political tendency — in favour of military adventurism and “free markets” — keep appearing like ghosts at the feast to rattle their chains and insist on being seated above the salt.
Reliably Trump-y until the January 6 riot at the Capitol, Representative Cheney about-faced to embrace every jot of the Democrats’ narrative regarding Trump’s alleged attempt to ignore the election results, dispense with the Constitution, and establish himself as a Caesar on the Potomac. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the Republicans named to serve on her special committee to investigate the riot, she named Liz Cheney as a minority representative to preserve the appearance of bipartisanship. Cheney cheerfully accepted appointment as committee co-chair and embraced her role in the inquisition.
Cheney relished the opportunity to sit before cameras and playact as the last patriotic Republican, a defender of the nation and its democratic values. Her performance on the January 6 committee was read by all members of her party — outside the province of certain op-ed writers whose primary audience is each other — as purest perfidy. Her bland recitation of the most absurd Democrat claims about Trump’s disloyalty were taken as an outrage.
That said, Why did Cheney even bother running for re-election, in a state that voted more heavily for Trump than any other, twice? What is characterised in the press as a “split” in the Republican Party — between Trump’s supporters on one hand, and conventional Republicans on the other — in fact is not a schism or factional matter at all. It more closely resembles an ice floe upon which the decrepit and useless remnant of the party has been set adrift.