Discover more from Abernathy Road
Does Liz Cheney have a path to the White House? Plus, Norman Lear looks back at 'All in the Family'
By Gary Abernathy
Does Liz Cheney have a path to the White House? No.
If the January 6 committee was effective in convincing more Republicans to move away from Donald J. Trump and refuse to support him in a future presidential run, it’s existence could be somewhat more justified. But there’s little to indicate that’s happening, in part because of a complete lack of fairness and a series of hearings that have been tightly scripted and clearly pejorative toward not just Trump but millions of Republicans who support him. As such, the committee’s hearings have merely been therapy for longtime Trump haters — including its two Republican members, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.
Liz Cheney as Trump Slayer would be fine if her goal really did seem to be rescuing the Republican Party and returning it to the party of, well, her father’s day. But she loses credibility not only as a Republican but as a truth teller every time she says things such as claiming, as she did last week, that Republican witnesses testifying to the Jan. 6 committee had “confessed.” That is surely news to them. Her weak defense of producing nothing but softball questions for witnesses with no challenging or skeptical follow-ups was also less than convincing and reveals her Trump hunt to be more personal than civic-minded.
But what pulls the mask completely off the disguise is her entreaty to Democrats in Wyoming to help her hang on to her congressional seat. A dedicated Republican focused on saving the GOP does not cling to power by whatever means necessary, especially begging Democrats to help her.
Cheney is now of course a heroine of the left, having joined forces with Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and company in their years-long pursuit of one Donald J. Trump. So completely has Liz embraced her new friends that, as mentioned, she’s actively seeking assistance from members of their party, asking Wyoming Democrats to help her with both their votes and their money in the upcoming Republican primary, where she is currently facing disaster, polls say.
As the New York Times reported, Cheney not that long ago promised she would never turn to Democrats for help. Her flip-flop has not gone unnoticed, particularly by her opponent in the GOP primary, Harriet Hageman. From the Times:
“Liz Cheney told The New York Times that she wouldn’t be encouraging Democrats to raid the Republican primary, but I guess the drive to hold onto power is just too strong for her to keep her word,” said Carly Miller, Ms. Hageman’s campaign manager. “What Cheney doesn’t understand is that Democrats will drop her like a bad habit after she’s no longer useful to them on the Jan. 6 committee.”
Cheney’s entreaty to Democrats belies any notion that her mission is to save the GOP from Trump and Trumpism. It would seem she merely wants to cling to power by whatever means might help her keep her job.
With many already assuming that Cheney faces certain defeat and will shortly be out of Congress, suggestions abound that she might run for president. Last weekend, she told interviewers she hasn’t yet decided whether to try for the White House. While Cheney is currently useful to the anti-Trump brigade (along with Kinzinger), she’ll soon find that once she no longer serves the purpose of bringing down Trump, she’ll be kicked to the curb by most of the Democrats and media members currently fawning over her.
But a bigger question is, what would be her path to the presidency? Her chances in a Republican primary would be no brighter than the current situation in her home state. Her record is much too conservative to consider running as a Democrat. And running as an independent is nothing but an ego trip to nowhere. The most she could hope to do would be to serve as a spoiler, but there’s no guarantee whose chances she’d spoil.
In 1992, Ross Perot was the strongest independent candidate in modern history, and he only received about 19 percent of the vote and carried no states. Bill Clinton won with 43 percent, while incumbent George H.W. Bush got 37.5 percent. The debate goes on about whether Perot pulled more support from Clinton or Bush. But either way, the result was a winner attempting to govern with support far below that of a mandate. In today’s distrustful political environment, the last thing the country needs is a president elected with support only in the 40 percent range.
Cheney might turn to a nascent third party being formed by disenchanted politicos including David Jolly, Christine Todd Whitman and Andrew Yang. They’re calling it the “Forward” party, which is a little too close to MSNBC’s “lean forward” mantra and, despite its claims to be striving for a “centrist” party, it would likely end up as another liberal enclave. “Centrist” efforts always seem to come down on the progressive side of issues. Again, Cheney would hardly be a good fit — and a third party, even if it catches on, will take more than a couple of years to truly challenge the status quo.
By the way, the notion — raised by the founders of the new party — that independents outnumber Democrats or Republicans is misleading. While technically true, most independents strongly identify and consistently vote with one party or the other. They just like maintaining their independent status for a variety of reasons — including avoiding a lot of fundraising mail and other nuisance outreach from the parties.
Who are Cheney’s voters these days? Never Trumpers and other disaffected Republicans who can’t stomach Trump — assuming he’s the nominee — would vote for Cheney. But she would also attract many of the independents who helped Joe Biden win in 2020, potentially hurting his chances — or the chances of another Democrat, should Biden not run or get taken out in a primary.
The left’s deification of Liz Cheney has been an adventure to watch and she’s clearly caught up in the adulation. But when the select committee winds down and Cheney is neither on the committee nor even in Congress anymore, she’ll realize that her career-defining role as chronic Trump critic has simply placed her in a long, homogenous line — with a lot of competition for attention.
At 100, Norman Lear looks back at ‘All in the Family’
Norman Lear is a television producer with a long line of credits, but he’ll forever by remembered for the groundbreaking “All in the Family.” On the occasion of his 100th birthday, Lear wrote a piece for the New York Times, reflecting on that landmark show and the state of the nation today.
I don’t agree with all of Lear’s conclusions, but here’s a poignant excerpt, with Lear discussing the need for people to reach common ground across the political spectrum:
Encouraging that kind of conversation was a goal of mine when we began broadcasting “All in the Family” in 1971. The kinds of topics Archie Bunker and his family argued about — issues that were dividing Americans from one another, such as racism, feminism, homosexuality, the Vietnam War and Watergate — were certainly being talked about in homes and families. They just weren’t being acknowledged on television.
For all his faults, Archie loved his country and he loved his family, even when they called him out on his ignorance and bigotries. If Archie had been around 50 years later, he probably would have watched Fox News. He probably would have been a Trump voter. But I think that the sight of the American flag being used to attack Capitol Police would have sickened him.
It’s hard for younger people today to understand just how controversial “All in the Family” was when it came on the air on CBS in January 1971. No entertainment show had ever permitted the language or debates that were expressed.
Lear, a well-known liberal, used “All in the Family” to show there was good in everyone, whether right or left and, to his credit, he demonstrated that neither side had all the answers. As the show progressed, the conservative Archie became somewhat more tolerant, while the liberal son-in-law, Mike, because somewhat less enamored of all leftist ideologies. Archie and Mike came to love and appreciate each other, while never seeing eye-to-eye politically. Meanwhile, Gloria, Archie’s daughter, loved her father even while siding with Mike politically, and Edith, Archie’s wife, was the most apolitical of all the characters, but had the biggest heart. There’s a lesson there, too.
And, something that’s often overlooked — the show was hilarious, thanks to great writing and an amazing cast featuring Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers.
The above clip features Archie and Mike debating gun control — a debate that is going on exactly the same way today, with the exact same arguments more than 50 years later.
You can read Lear’s essay here. Happy birthday, Norman.
The eight Jan. 6 hearings so far: A path the GOP will follow
In my latest Washington Post column, I examined last week’s hearing of the January 6 committee and reviewed the committee’s overall level of effectiveness. While Trump can be blamed for much — and I repeatedly point those things out — the committee, as usual, has overreached.
Still, even a person guilty of some things might not be guilty of everything. Trump deserves fairness and accuracy in how his actions are depicted. Eight hearings have come and gone and we have yet to see played the portion of Trump’s Ellipse remarks when he urged the crowd to march “peacefully” to the Capitol. That’s an unfair omission by the committee…
…The hearings’ lack of fairness and complete absence of spontaneity are two reasons they have squandered the opportunity to be taken seriously by anyone not already in the choir. Just as Trump’s rallies are filled with adoring followers who cheer everything he says just because he says it, these hearings have been hailed primarily by those who have little regard for the veracity or relevancy of what is presented as long as it’s critical of Trump.
But the real downside of these presentations — or upside, if you prefer hearings presented showbiz-style — is that if Republicans take over the House next year, as widely predicted, they’ll follow the same template, targeting Democrats with damning Hollywood-style mini-documentaries in the guise of hearings. And, following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lead, they’ll deny committee seats to Democrats they deem potentially disruptive.
By the way, despite news stories claiming as much, absolutely no one has stepped up to verify Cassidy Hutchinson’ retelling of a story about Trump grabbing the steering wheel of the presidential SUV and lunging for the “clavicles” of another agent in the car. News organizations recently claimed that other witnesses would verify Hutchinson’s second-hand account, but it turns out they only verified that Trump did indeed want to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 and was very adamant about it. Then the media attempt to portray the dispute as being about that question when, in fact, the dispute was over the more salacious aspects of Hutchinson’s story (grabbing the wheel, lunging for an agent). Why isn’t the news media more trusted? Go figure.
The committee has promised to get back at it in September — perfect timing to influence the November midterm elections, which is what this has really been all about.
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