It makes a difference whether it’s a politician or if it’s a TV personality who makes a “stupid mistake” and says something over an open mic. If a TV personality does it, it really is a “stupid mistake.” The politician claims it was unintentional, as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did before he appeared on “Fox and Friends” recently. But you can bet he knew the microphone was live as he blurted: “I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence.”
The “her” in Kevin McCarthy’s case was Liz Cheney, No. 3 in the House Republican hierarchy. She made the mistake of standing on her principles, just like Sen. Mitt Romney did. They voted against President Donald Trump when he was wriggling out of his various impeachments. In Cheney’s case, she’s been obnoxious about it, rankling all of the Republicans who sold their souls to Trump, which is most of them.
So Democrats are now cheering for Cheney, in spite of her history as a most intensely conservative congresswoman from Wyoming, and the daughter of Richard Cheney. Yup, that Cheney, who not too long ago was Vice President Darth Vader to every liberal who didn’t believe in war. They are also rooting for Romney, whose CV includes two runs for president. His father, George, was also a GOP presidential candidate, back when GOP meant “Grand Old Party.” Now it means “Grand Old Purging.” In this case it means throwing out and up anybody who displeases the Don. Romney and Cheney have definitely done that.
In Sen. Romney’s case, it meant being booed off the stage at a Utah party event where he was speaking.
But all eyes are watching the House GOP faction as Cheney has displeased the Trumpster. And that means she is currently displeasing his puppet, Kevin McCarthy, who flies anywhere the wind blows between Mar-a-Lago and Washington.
Donald Trump is blowing hard against Cheney, and for Elise Stefanik, the congresswoman whose support for Donald Trump has been unwavering.
In case there was any doubt, Trump issued a statement: “She has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement.”
Stefanik wasted no time going on Twitter to remind one and all that she has Trump’s endorsement: “Thank you President Trump for your 100% support for House GOP Conference Chair. We are unified and focused on FIRING PELOSI & WINNING in 2022!”
But even though Stefanik has kissed the Don’s ring, or whatever else there is to kiss, there are those in his MAGA mob who are bothered by her relatively moderate voting record in Congress, like arch conservative extremists Ann Coulter and Lou Dobbs. One right-wing publication called her a “neocon establishment twit.” But the man is on her side, so that settles it.
Meanwhile, Liz Cheney has antagonized nearly everyone in her party by stating and restating and restating again the inescapable fact that Donald Trump continues the “big lie” tactic in arguing he won the election and that Trump provoked the deadly Jan. 6 riot. In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, she argued, “The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution.”
Millions of lemmings have already chosen to follow Donald Trump’s whims rather than risk his calling them wimps or, even worse, RINO -- which, as everybody knows, means “Republican in name only.” So here we have a man, Donald Trump, who started as a Republican in 1987, then switched to the Independent Party, then Democratic, then Republican again, then “no party affiliation,” then settling on Republican. He is calling Cheney and Romney, with their party pedigrees, RINOs. Remember Ronald Reagan (a Democrat before he was a Republican) advocating the inclusive “big tent” concept? Now the Don and his capos have set the tent on fire.
Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.