GOP Forming Circular Firing Squad to Cancel Rep. Cheney

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The Republican Party is under unprecedented assault. Its nominal leader, Donald Trump, stands convicted of inciting the Capitol riot on January 6. Admittedly, the flimsy case built by Democrats would have been tossed out of any court in the land. But impeachment carries its own mark of Cain even if it’s bogus.


The party’s values are being outlawed or canceled. Social media has become a cesspool of hate directed against the GOP. Party morale is low or non-existent in some places.

On Capitol Hill, the minority Republicans have yet to find an answer to Democrats who are using the rules of the Senate to ram through trillions in spending. Worse yet, the party’s sniping at one another isn’t helping with unity.

That sniping is causing some real rifts in the party. The biggest divide is between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney. The two have been at loggerheads for months over their differing responses to Trump’s actions on January 6. Those differences spilled out into the open during the Republican retreat in Orlando as Cheney offered an opinion that any Republican who challenged the election results from November should be barred from running for president.

McCarthy found that sentiment close to heresy and began entertaining the idea that perhaps Cheney shouldn’t hold such an esteemed position in the party. Several prominent members of the party are making the case and the issue could come to a head in the next month.


The comments by Reps. Steve Scalise, the minority whip, and Jim Banks, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, carry weight because of their close relationship with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — who is openly feuding with Cheney.

Banks (R-Ind.), leader of the largest conservative caucus in the House, told Axios Friday that Cheney’s continued criticisms are “an unwelcome distraction,” and he questioned whether she would retain her leadership role in a month.

Banks’ comments were echoed more diplomatically by Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 Republican in the House.

During an interview with Axios on Friday, he said of Cheney: “This idea that you just disregard President Trump is not where we are, and, frankly, he has a lot to offer still.”


McCarthy had been on the fence with regard to Cheney, but he appears to be leaning toward some kind of discipline against her.

During an interview with Axios on Friday, he said of Cheney: “This idea that you just disregard President Trump is not where we are, and, frankly, he has a lot to offer still.”

Earlier in the week, McCarthy himself told reporters: “If you’re sitting here at a retreat that’s focused on policy, focused on the future of making American next-century, and you’re talking about something else, you’re not being productive.”

Republicans need Donald Trump to help the party take back the House in 2022. For Cheney to go off script and make suggestions totally at odds with the reality of being a Republican politician in this day and age is not helping or being “productive” as McCarthy says. If Cheney was some backbench nobody, she could probably get away with it. But as a member of the party leadership, she has some responsibility to foster unity in the party.

That said, forming a circular firing squad to deal with her contrariness isn’t helpful either. Republicans cannot afford to be a monochromatic party of one shade of conservatism. Litmus tests are self-defeating. Running someone out of town who disagrees with the majority is not the way to build a winning coalition.


America is a nation of 330 million people with differing, sometimes clashing interests, coming from all across the ideological spectrum. There has to be room in the Republican Party for both a Liz Cheney and a Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Otherwise, the GOP will be no different than the Democrats.




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