Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney, a daughter of former vice president Richard B. Cheney, delivered a Trumpism-inflected speech to nominate Kevin McCarthy to be speaker of the House on Thursday, telegraphing the Republican strategy as the party moves forward in the one legislative body it no longer controls.
The speech heralded Cheney’s arrival as a rising star of the Republican Party. Cheney embraced the spotlight, lambasting “the devastating practice of sanctuary cities,” talking up the importance of building “the wall” and saying that McCarthy would stand in opposition to “the fraud of socialism” that would presumably be perpetrated by Democrats.
It was a performance that could very well land her on the cable news circuit in the foreseeable future. And it seemed custom-tailored to President Trump’s priorities and messaging, as his insistence on a budget that includes funding for a border wall has resulted in a nearly two-week-long government shutdown.
The nomination of McCarthy was a largely symbolic gesture, as the Democratic rout of House races in November and the large majority it heralded effectively squashed his chances for the speakership. Democrat Nancy Pelosi won the bid to be speaker of the House with 220 votes; McCarthy garnered 192.
Beginning her second term as a congresswoman, Cheney is one of only 13 Republican women in the House. (Democrats are represented by 89 women in the House.)
She was picked in November to be the Republican conference chair, the party’s third-ranking position in the House, putting her in charge of its communications strategy as it seeks to battle the Democratic majority and regain control of the House in 2020.
“We’ve got to change the way that we operate and really in some ways be more aggressive, have more of a rapid response,” Cheney told the Associated Press shortly after the midterm elections.
Socialism is a buzzword in the world of politics at the moment, after the success and increased prominence of democratic socialists such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and the increasing leftward turn of internal debates about the Democratic Party.
On Friday, Cheney continued her line of attack, blaming Democrats for the increasingly harsh rhetoric that has come to mark politics in the Trump era.
“I think you also have seen yesterday, in the last 24 hours in particular, a real ramp-up in rhetoric, in name-calling,” she told reporters. “We’re in a situation where the Democrats are clearly bringing into this office a level of rhetoric, a level of attack, a level of vitriol that is not good for the country.”
Cheney, the older of Richard B. Cheney’s two daughters, mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Senate in Wyoming in 2013 that was marked by a feud that erupted in public view with her sister Mary, who is a lesbian, over Mary’s sexual orientation.
Cheney had gone on Fox News in the run-up to the election to say that she opposed same-sex marriage, saying it was an area where she and her sister disagreed.
“Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history,” Mary shot back on Facebook.
Mary’s wife, Heather Poe, pointed to Cheney’s relocation, from Northern Virginia to Wyoming.
“I can’t help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other,” Poe wrote on Facebook. “In fifteen states and the District of Columbia you are my sister-in-law.”