GOP Conference chair Liz Cheney “managed to cling” to her position as the third-most-powerful Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday by a margin of 84 votes, 145–61. Cheney’s decisive victory will come as a shock to those who take the likes of Florida representative Matt Gaetz seriously. Prior to yesterday’s vote, Gaetz took to Steve Bannon’s podcast to insist that “we have the votes to remove Liz Cheney.” However, he did worry that “somehow the Establishment’s going to find a way to kick the question” or “avoid a vote.” Cheney herself apparently called for the referendum on her leadership, so Gaetz’s already dismal batting average took another dip last night with an “0 for 2” spot.
Those who have been taking their political cues from The Federalist may be similarly surprised this morning. Ben Domenech, the site’s publisher, tut-tutted National Review for issuing an editorial “In Defense of Liz Cheney,” writing, “If National Review wants to die on the 197-10 hill with douchebro Adam Kinzinger, be my guest.” We’re still breathing over here, and in spite of his prediction that “There Is No Future For A Liz Cheney GOP,“ there most certainly appears to be room for Liz Cheney in the GOP. So much room, in fact, that she continues to serve — with a mandate — in party leadership.
The Federalist was so sure that Cheney was on her way out the door, however, that it even published an article titled “House Republicans Prepare To Oust Liz Cheney From Leadership” on Tuesday. Like Gaetz, its author mistakenly reported that “members of the conference have asked for the chance to give an ‘up-or-down’ vote on Cheney’s role in leadership. Cheney is reportedly fighting such a vote.”
The problem with abandoning principled arguments about what is right or just for those you think are most popular at any given moment is that you are destined to lose not only your moral credibility, but also your grip on reality.