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Not caught up with conservatives celebrating the primary loss of Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal editorial board actually warned that Cheney’s defeat and future “revenge” tour against former President Donald Trump could split the GOP and render it unable to win the presidency in 2024.
The board, however, did not go so far as to praise Cheney. It acknowledged she lost for a fair reason; her willingness to embrace the partisan January 6 Committee. Though it also maintained the lawmaker “is a conservative by any measure and she has the courage of her convictions.”
The Wall Street Journal opened the column by summing up its nuanced perspective on Cheney, writing, “Liz Cheney lost her Republican primary in Wyoming Tuesday because she bravely stood up to the stolen-election falsehoods of Donald Trump. Liz Cheney lost the primary because she alienated too many Republicans by making common cause with Democrats like Rep. Adam Schiff.”
The column explained that “Both statements can be true” and that Republicans shouldn’t be so pleased that Trump got his political revenge on her because she represents “a not inconsiderable number of GOP voters who can’t abide Mr. Trump.”
Still, GOP voters, even those who despise Trump, voted Cheney out for associating “herself closely” with “Democrats and the media” and their efforts “to tar the entire GOP as rioters and fanatics.”
The paper acknowledged her mendacity in not publicly objecting when the “committee leaked text messages of Ginni Thomas to attack her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas,” or when “She agreed to subpoena sitting Members of Congress in a gross breach of political norms.”
“She is also the leading committee voice urging the Justice Department to prosecute Mr. Trump as a criminal for his behavior that day, though the committee still hasn’t provided evidence that Mr. Trump had any direct ties to the rioters,” the board added.
The Journal again spoke for those GOP voters who were disturbed by January 6, but also disturbed by the partisan commission. “GOP voters can hate what happened on Jan. 6 but also dislike the tactics of a committee that excluded Republicans who might have cross-examined witnesses.”
“We warned that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would hurt the credibility of the committee by blocking Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s appointees, and the public’s view of its work has predictably split along party lines. One result has been to cost Ms. Cheney her seat in Congress,” the column stated.
The problem of Cheney losing, however, is that she could embark on a political revenge tour that could help to split the GOP vote against Trump seeking re-election in 2024. “Ms. Cheney’s concession speech suggests her mission in politics now is to prevent Mr. Trump from becoming President again. One option is running for the White House herself. She’d have little chance at the GOP nomination. But her goal may be to prosecute the political case against Mr. Trump in such a way that opens the door to other candidates,” the piece wrote.
Though it acknowledged she could “attempt a third-party run,” which the board warned could pose a “problem” for Republicans “as long as Mr. Trump is the dominant party figure. He is toxic to a majority of voters even as he retains the fervent support of tens of millions.” Cheney could further widen the voter divide that “cost him re-election in 2020.”
This is also playing into Democrats’ hands. “This is why Democrats are doing their best to put Mr. Trump front and center in the 2022 campaign—with the Jan. 6 committee extending into the fall, and the continuing civil and criminal investigations in Georgia, New York and Washington, D.C.,” the column claimed.
It concluded, “Liz Cheney lost in Wyoming, but her revenge may be a divided GOP that loses again in 2024.”