Free advice is what you pay for it, but Liz Cheney is going to get plenty of it in the weeks and months ahead. Some if it will be outrageous, like the warning from Republican hack Ed Rollins, who proclaimed that she should be wary of the reputation of “a housewife who’s kind of bored.” But here are a few more constructive observations.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is generally quite conservative and well liked in the state. It is therefore hard to make the argument he “sold” out or failed to object to the Obama agenda. The problem is that he doesn’t do all that much. On “This Week,” former White House press secretary Dana Perino, who was born in Wyoming, observed:
So I talked to my Aunt Patty Sue, runs Memory Lanes Bowling Alley in Rawlins, Wyoming. I have other family there that are building businesses and trying to make a living that way.
And I assumed that she would say something along the lines of, well, we like Liz Cheney but you know, let, she should wait her turn. Let’s just see how it goes. I was surprised, my Aunt said, you know, the Senate doesn’t come with a lifetime guarantee.
In other words, Cheney would be smart to make Enzi justify why he deserves another turn. What has he done for Wyoming, the conservative movement and the country lately?
That, in turn, leads to another Cheney challenge: She will need to explain why she’d be better than Enzi. It sounds elementary, but she’ll have to explain how her votes and/or leadership will deliver what Enzi has not. Maybe that is leading the charge to get answers on Benghazi, the IRS and other scandals. Maybe it is finally coming up with a GOP health-care alternative. Maybe that is undoing the defense sequester. (Enzi voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011, which may be a vulnerability.) Without dubbing him “old,” she will have to project a more energetic and determined style than Enzi exhibits.
And finally, Enzi did distinguish himself at one juncture but in a way that may not sit well with Wyoming Republicans. He publicly backed the Gang of 6 plan offered in the summer of 2011 (not to be confused with his earlier participation in another Gang of 6 in 2009 looking for a health-care deal). Its tax hike of more than $1.2 trillion was so significant that it actually helped scuttle the grand bargain that the House speaker and president were working on, as Bob Woodward reported. That Gang of 6 deal also included massive cuts in national security.
In short, Cheney would do well to lay out for Wyoming voters concrete differences between the two. They agree on a lot but not everything. Cheney’s task is to convince voters that the “not everything” is important and that she will help deliver on the conservative agenda. It’s not easy, but no one should underestimate her.