Lynn, Mary and Liz Cheney

Lynne, left, Mary, center, and Liz Cheney  (Melina Mara/ The Washington Post)

The New York Times on Sunday ran a rather silly report claiming Liz Cheney risks ” a civil war within the state’s Republican establishment.” Really — just by challenging an incumbent?

The only person the reporter was able to dragoon into offering that sentiment is a man in a constant state of hyperbole (and who spends virtually all his time in D.C.): Alan Simpson, who left the Senate more than 15 years ago. “It’s a disaster — a divisive, ugly situation — and all it does is open the door for the Democrats for 20 years,” he proclaimed. Umm, no. If she runs, she’ll either win, in which case Republicans of Wyoming will have decided to rally around her, or they’ll stick with Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.), the low-profile incumbent. Is a Democrat really going to beat either of them?

Unsurprisingly, the rest of the report finds no other hysterical Republicans. At best, the reporter scrounged up a couple of Republicans saying they like their incumbent senator.

So what is going on here other than the typical mainstream media trumped-up catastrophe about intra-Republican Party fights? A few things, I think, account for the thinly disguised hit piece.

First, the “return” of the Cheneys and the rise in former President George W. Bush’s standing must be galling to the media, which painted both as either bumpkins or defilers of the Constitution. In fact, they were neither, and they handed off to their successors a win in Iraq, a drone program, National Security Agency surveillance operations, a solid relationship with Israel and a well-financed Pentagon. As a result, their relatives (Liz Cheney, former Florida governor Jeb Bush) aren’t hiding in disgrace, to the chagrin of the left.

Second, there is more than a hint of sexism in there:

Ms. Cheney, the mother of five school-age children, has become ubiquitous, appearing many times in communities over 300 miles from home. She has told associates that if she runs, she wants to do so in her own right.
Driving long distances in a state where towns can be 70 miles apart is not unusual for residents here, but few of them so frequently post Twitter or Facebook messages about their activities. Last month, Ms. Cheney shared a picture on Twitter of her daughter steering a horse around a barrel course.

There she goes gallivanting around the state with five young kids at home! Frankly, if it were “Larry” Cheney the number of kids wouldn’t be mentioned in connection with his travels, and he’d be just another ambitious conservative trying to clear the dead wood out of the party.

And, finally, if she runs, Cheney would be part of a growing trend of conservatives (e.g. John Bolton, Rep. Tom Cotton) who are concerned with the hollowing out of our military and the isolationist trend in the GOP and the country at large. The Obama presidency, the Times would be loath to admit, has provided ample evidence that when the U.S. retrenches, dangerous forces fill the vacuum. Obama is now roundly criticized, even by Democrats, for his lackluster “policy” (if you can call it that) on Syria and Egypt and his failure to recognize and move to impede aggression by both Russia and China. In 2014, GOP candidates strong on national security have every opportunity to make their case.