Liz Cheney: We’ll Meet Again

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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71 Responses

  1. BlaiseP says:

    With Salesmen and Senators, I have no patience for a big pitch. The goods ought to sell themselves on their merits. Would-be senators ought to present a longish resume of accomplishments and exhibit enough modesty to earnestly wish it was longer.

    But some people, like Arthur Scoresby, go from triumph to triumph, their stupidity notwithstanding. Liz Cheney has traded on her famous name for quite some time and has never run for elected office. Hillary Clinton hadn’t either when she ran for US Senator for New York but then, Hillary and Bill were always a team and had been for the whole of Bill’s career.

    The apple seldom falls far from the tree, nor the road apple from the horse. If Liz Cheney demonises President Obama, that’s a tried ‘n true way of Saying Nothing Loudly. Let the Republican Party fill its ranks with ranting obstructionists and feeble-minded scions of former greats. Her father peppered one of his friends with birdshot. Liz Cheney will do the same with her compadres.Report

  2. DRS says:

    What’s the odds that same-sex marriage comes up during the race?Report

  3. The political rhetoric of elections (especially primaries) is largely empty sloganeering. Is Liz Cheney an arch conservative? Time will tell. Her father turned out to be an authoritarian who used the conservative political structure as a conduit to power.Report

    • Art Deco in reply to Keith Beacham says:

      Umm, no. He landed a job as a Congressional aide in 1968 after a dissaffecting experience of graduate school, thence to a position on the White House staff under Gerald Ford. He had some skills and contacts from a that and managed to win a vacated Congressional seat in 1978. He maneuvered around satisfactorily in Congress and had antecedent contacts with the Bush crew from the Ford Administration, so was an unsurprising choice when Mr. Bush’s preferred choice for Secretary of Defense flamed out over his history of heavy-drinking and stepping on senatorial toes. He is a career man with some useful people skills and administrative acumen and cut his teeth at a time when ideological temporizing was the order of the day (and is notable for having worked for a President whose opportunism trailed only Richard Nixon’s).Report

      • Keith Beacham in reply to Art Deco says:

        Lets not be silly. Mr Cheney ran for VP and at no time championed concepts like unitary executive. In debates he parroted time worn conservative boilerplate just as Bush the younger (despite the compassionate bow tie) . When in office he revealed himself to be anything but a classical liberal.Report

        • Art Deco in reply to Keith Beacham says:

          He was the vice presidential candidate. It is a stupid job and places its aspirants in awkward positions during campaigns. Again, not my trade, but I doubt an electoral campaign is the optimal circumstance to have public debates on esoteric legal topics. I would tend to doubt Frank Luntz would advise them to emphasize that even if they had formulated that at that point.Report

          • Keith Beacham in reply to Art Deco says:

            ” I doubt an electoral campaign is the optimal circumstance to have public debates on esoteric legal topics.”

            I would add; nor are they good for providing anything but an opaque view of how a candidate will behave in office.Report

    • Art Deco in reply to Keith Beacham says:

      One other thing. He ended up as vice president quite unexpectedly. He had not run for office in 12 years, had transferred his voting residence to Texas (inconvenient given the nominee was a Texan), and had settled into an exceedingly lucrative gig as CEO of Halliburton. He made use of no ‘conservative political structure’. He acceded to a request of George Bush the Younger, a legacy pol with weak convictions. Per Karl Rove, it required a hard sell to get him to take the prize.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Art Deco says:

        The ironic thing is that he wasn’t a success as CEO. Haliburton stagnated during his tenure. Their real success came after he gave up his role as CEO and went into their business development department.Report

        • Are you contending they cooked the books? Per the Securities and Exchange Commission filings, the following changes were noted in the summary profit and loss statements and summary balance sheets.

          1995 >> 2000: Operating income: $235 mil. >> $462 mil.
          Net income: $178 million >> 501 mil.
          Book value: $1,942 mil >> $6,338 mil.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Art Deco says:

            You’re right; that came out very misleadingly. I meant to say, not that Cheney was unsuccessful as CEO, because his government contacts were quite valuable, but that he could do far more for Haliburton once he was in a position to actually start wars.Report

            • The 2007 balance sheet reports the following:

              Operating income: $3,484
              Net income: $2,348
              Book Value: $7,376

              The rate at which operating income and net income were increasing was faster over the latter period, but the book value of the company increased only 10% or so (in contrast to the earlier period).

              Cheney had no authority to ‘start wars’. His position as vice president is purely advisory.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Art Deco says:

                I think you’re wrong, Art. Google “Cheney fourth branch government”.Report

              • Art Deco in reply to Stillwater says:

                If you have a complaint about Halliburton’s filings with the Securities Exchange Commission, you’ll have to take it to some other authority. I report, you decide.

                As for the vice presidency, it is a ceremonial office; however, it has functioned for the last 60 years in a supplementary advisory capacity. Advisory only.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Art Deco says:

                He had no formal authority to start wars. Whether he had that power as a practical matter through his influence with the President and whatnot is a different story that’s been fairly well documented.Report

              • Art Deco in reply to Don Zeko says:

                He had no more consequential role than did anyone from whom the President sought advice, from John Yoo to Colin Powell to Karl Rove to Richard Armitage. He commanded not one soldier. He could see to the appropriation of not one dollar.Report

              • Dave in reply to Art Deco says:

                He had no more consequential role than did anyone from whom the President sought advice, from John Yoo to Colin Powell to Karl Rove to Richard Armitage.

                Tell that to Jack Goldsmith. I’d argue that John Yoo and David Addington were very influential for reasons that are obvious.

                He commanded not one soldier. He could see to the appropriation of not one dollar.

                Even so, that does not diminish the well-established arguments of his influence.

                And you accuse me of splitting hairs?Report

              • Art Deco in reply to Dave says:

                I am not splitting hairs. The vice president has an office staff. That is it. There is no administrative architecture which he supervises. The vice president’s influence is entirely dependent on how much confidence the President has in his advice. President’s usually have staff who are designated ‘counselors’ and such. The Nixon Administration had Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Bryce Harlow; the Ford Administration had John Marsh; the Carter Administration had Hedley Donovan; the Reagan Administration had Edwin Meese. The vice president is in that category. Walter Mondale was valued by Carter, though not always heeded; Spiro Agnew was ‘isolated like a bacillus’; George Bush the Elder’s influence is not known because all of his advice was delivered in one-on-one meetings.

                And, of course, whatever influence the vice president has over the president’s thinking, it still has to be implemented through other officials who have their own opinions and their own fish to fry.Report

              • Dave in reply to Dave says:

                The vice president’s influence is entirely dependent on how much confidence the President has in his advice.

                Yes. President Bush had that confidence in him. One does not have to believe that Vice President Cheney had the power to, as you put it, frog march the Washington political class, to know that he, along with David Addington and John Yoo, were the key architects behind the Bush Administration’s War on Terror policies.

                And, of course, whatever influence the vice president has over the president’s thinking, it still has to be implemented through other officials who have their own opinions and their own fish to fry.

                Which they were, at least for a while. Cheney’s influence with respect to matters concerning detention and surveillance shouldn’t be a controversial topic, at least the way I’m trying to present it.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Dave says:

                On a formal level, everything Art is saying is correct (except for the fact that Cheney argued that the VPs office was a fourth branch of government, neither legislative nor executive… Hmmmm….). The VP cannot – formally! – enact legislation or declare war.

                On a substantive level, tho, things are a bit trickier. Consider the Energy Task Force, which was an initiative subsumed under the VP’s office and under the direction of Cheney. It seems silly (to me anyway) to say that Cheney was merely advising the President with respect to the conclusions drawn from that program. Except formally, that is. It seems to me he was establishing policy (irrespective of what the specific policy prescriptions actually were).Report

          • Dave in reply to Art Deco says:

            Are you contending they cooked the books?

            One can say they tried.


            The changes they made were in accordance with GAAP, but they failed to report it. When changes have a material impact, that’s a no-no.

            If Halliburton never changed the policy back, my suspicion is that the growth that we see is largely driven by accounting changes. This isn’t bad per se, but it clearly shows why throwing numbers on a page without understanding what goes behind them is a bad idea.Report

            • Art Deco in reply to Dave says:

              1. Schilling makes an assertion that is facially false.
              2. Then Schilling moves to another square on the board and contends that the balance sheet and profit and loss statements show that Cheney used his position to benefit Halliburton by ‘starting wars’
              3. Which requires another implication that is false: that a fifth-wheel office holder like the vice president can frog march the entire Washington political class.
              4. But the real problem is that I’m ‘throwing numbers on a page without understanding” bla bla bla.

              Always fair-minded, Dave.Report

        • dexter in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Haliburton’s real success came when it received all those no bid contacts after the start of the unjustified and poorly planned invasion of Iraq.Report

          • Art Deco in reply to dexter says:

            Again, numbers supplied above.Report

            • Michelle in reply to Art Deco says:

              Gee. AD is a fan of Dick Cheney’s. Now, there’s a surprise.Report

              • Art Deco in reply to Michelle says:

                Cheney is a careerist, a type I can take or leave. Elias Isquith has Clan Cheney confused with Englebert Dollfus and Schilling misrepresents the condition of Halliburton under his tenure and fancies that the vice president sets policy unilaterally and is a line administrator. (He also imagines that the purpose of the Iraq war was to benefit contractors, which is, I suppose, a marginal improvement over Michael Moore’s contention that the Afghan War was to benefit the Unocal Corporation. Janeane Garofalo is much more amusing trading in this, and, unlike the lot of you, easy on the eyes).


                By the way, Michelle, I really shouldn’t have to spell everything out for you.Report

              • Michelle in reply to Art Deco says:

                You don’t. So kindly don’t feel obligated to condescend toward me (although condescension seems to be your go-to tone).Report

    • I tend to agree with both Elias and Keith on this. I’ll take candidates at their word (to a point), but I’m generally prepared for their word to change, possibly multiple times, especially once they get elected.Report

  4. Will Truman says:

    Early indications do not look good for Ms. Cheney. Her decision to run this particular race against this particular opponent is rather odd. One state over (heck, one county over from Jackson), Jim Risch won’t be around forever. The Cheney name hasn’t served Idaho, but I don’t think that’s nearly as big as a problem as running against a not-unpopular incumbent.Report

    • Just Me in reply to Will Truman says:

      Early is right. Elizabeth Cheney announced her candidacy on Tuesday that she would run for the seat. The poll was done on Wednesday and Thursday. I would have been shocked if she was in the lead or in a dead heat with an incumbent.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Just Me says:

        Given her last name, I’d want to be within striking distance. And I definitely would not want the opponent having a majority. It’s much easier to convince undecideds to vote for you than to convince people who intend to vote for the other guy. A gap of 20 points seems quite doable, if the leader is below 50%. A gap of almost 35 points where the leader has over 50%? They have to hope that this is just a bad poll.Report

        • Just Me in reply to Will Truman says:

          I personally don’t think she stands much of a chance of winning. Enzi is as conservative as they come in a state that is very conservative. He also has seniority, something that is hard to argue against. Liz Cheney going in as a freshman gives them nothing. I am with you, I find it extremely odd that she is running in this race, unless she isn’t really serious about winning and is just using this as a stepping stone for some other agenda. Maybe she wants to get her foot in the door for next time?Report

          • Elias Isquith in reply to Just Me says:

            She’s probably hearing a lot from the fringe of the fringe, telling her there’s a hunger in the electorate for her and assuring her that her campaign will be well-funded. With money + name recognition + an overweening ambition to follow/redeem her father, I’m not surprised she’s decided to jump in. Plus recent GOP history says rightwing primary challenges work, so it’s not like she’s totally out on a limb.Report

            • Art Deco in reply to Elias Isquith says:

              She’s probably hearing a lot from the fringe of the fringe…Plus recent GOP history says rightwing primary challenges work

              She was born in Madison, Wisconsin, has spent most of her life in metropolitan Washington (sojourns on college campuses the most notable exception). Her father was Gerald Ford’s chief of staff and then Secretary of Defense for George Bush the Elder. Her mother was a federal bureau chief for the elder Bush. Her grandfather was a federal civil servant, employed by the USDA. Her entire worklife has been spent in political posts, letterhead organizations, and law practice; her husband’s has been spent shuttling between political posts (making use of his legal knowledge) and law practice (indubitably making use of his political connections). This only respect in which this woman is against type is that she has five children rather than the usual 1.6 children.

              She is a Beltway fixture. Program and principle are largely instrumentalities.Report

            • Art Deco in reply to Elias Isquith says:

              She’s Elizabeth Dole with fewer accomplishments, a mess of kids, and (without a doubt) a more agreeable husband.Report

            • Michelle in reply to Elias Isquith says:

              She might be able to pull a Christine O’Donnell. Unfortunately, if she did, she’d probably end up in the Senate.Report

        • Art Deco in reply to Will Truman says:

          The other question is why a woman with five children would want a job that requires frequent cross-country travel and has an open-ended schedule. Richard J. Daley once slated a man named John Fary to represent his own district in Congress. Mr. Fary reportedly spent most of his time reading newspapers and voted as he was told. Nice work if you can get away with it, but I suspect few members of Congress can anymore.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Art Deco says:

            I suspect it’s the first step in her plan to become president. She’s 47 now, and needs to become better known nationally. The Senate has the advantage that, two elections out of three, you can run for president without giving up your current job. We do tend toward political dynasties these days: Kennedys, Bushes, Pauls, and do on. Why not Cheneys? I presume she’s constitutionally eligible, being a cyborg only on her father’s side.Report

            • Not my trade, to be sure, but I think she ought to run in Virginia if she insists on a campaign. If she’s currently living across the river in D.C. or Maryland, moving is not that difficult and an unremarkable thing for a Washington local. She has an authentic history in Northern Virginia (though people in Richmond or the Valley do not have much affection for NoVa). Their Senate races are usually competitive and their state executives are term limited, so there are opportunities there to gain the kind of experience that is useful if you want to seek the President’s chair (experience the current incumbent never had). Trouble is, you actually have to take an interest in the sort of issues that are on the table in state capitols, where “Keeping America Safe” means a well-oiled state police and prison system.

              Of course, she just might eschew electoral politics until she and the children are older.Report

          • Kim in reply to Art Deco says:

            The senator from Saudi arabia notwithstanding?Report

    • Art Deco in reply to Will Truman says:

      Electorates seem more tolerant of carpetbaggers than was once was the case (“Hillary. Rodham. Clinton…we like our three little names, don’t we?…so you’re just a New Yorker when its conveeeeenient…”). Still, Richard Lugar was bounced co-incident with the discovery that he had been making use of a house he had sold in 1977 as his voting address. Wyoming is its own place and in terms of settlement patterns only three or four other states remotely resemble it The political culture has its astringent aspect:

      Her family meandered in and out of the state over the period running from 1977 to 1989. She was never a resident in an unqualified way and her mother and father have not had more than a pied a terre there since 1965. Her high school diploma was issued by a school in suburban Washington. If you tally it up generously, she might have spent four of her 46 years within state boundaries. It is difficult to imagine her husband petitioning for admission to the Wyoming Bar and hanging a shingle in Laramie. It is doubtful he has ever practiced that sort of law.

      She’s lunch.Report

  5. Kolohe says:

    Count me as another who doesn’t quite get this move. This appears to be the biggest vanity project in recent memory, making Herman Cain’s presidential campaign look like it was the master of strategic depth.

    As people already said, Cheney isn’t H. Clinton, and Enzi isn’t Lisa Murkowski. Money doesn’t matter (as much) in small state politics – networks do. And, as also mentioned, the one wedge issue that could come into play – gay marriage – Cheney is on the ‘wrong’ (read: correct) side of*.

    Hannity came out for her, but talk radio usually can sit pretty as T’Pring in these situations. Either their candidate wins and they can crow about their victory, or their candidate loses and they can still play the outsider to their adoring fans. (and often do both at the same time – see Ted Cruz, for instance)

    *now, it would be an incredible thing indeed if the libertarian insurgency in the GOP would triumph over the SoCon coterie. I do expect this to happen in the west if and when it eventually occurs, but I do not expect it to happen anytime soon, much less in this current election cycle.Report

  6. David Kaib says:

    I’m not sure Dick Cheney was radicalized by 9-11, so much as unleashed. The theories he expounded about unfettered executive power were the same ones he used during Iran Contra. The burning desire to invade Iraq had been something he pushed throughout the Clinton presidency. When Cheney was announced, I thought the Gore campaign had a great opportunity to paint him as the radical he was. Sadly, they weren’t interested.Report

  7. Michelle says:

    Liz Cheney is a nasty piece of work, only a rung or two beneath Ann Coulter in the Republican hierarchy of vicious blonde bitches. I hope Enzi beats her by 20 to 30 percentage point, putting a quick end to her political aspirations. Let her keep spitting lies and venom at Faux News, but please don’t let her come anywhere near a presidential run. She’s truly the spawn of Satan.Report

    • Art Deco in reply to Michelle says:

      Ann Coulter is basically a humor writer (a description of a Democratic Party fundraiser hosted by Hugh Hefner: “the Viagra Cotillion”). Like some in the commentary trade, her quantum of material is good for books or occasional journalism, not for clockwork topical commentary, so she is usually heavy handed. The only person I recall her being particularly vicious about has been Amanda Knox, the college student from Seattle who was put through four years of worth of the Italian “justice system” on a bogus murder charge.

      Exactly what is your issue? Cheney is not the most winsome political type, but no one else here is inclined to even call attention to the type she is. You can take exception to what she advocates with out laying into her as a human being. She has remained married for 20 years, has five children, and has not been the epicenter of any domestic scandals. Its a reasonable wager her character and personality defects are not that crippling.Report

      • Michelle in reply to Art Deco says:

        To me, she’s an example of everything wrong with today’s Republican Party. She’s far right, militaristic, and spews hatred, portraying people who don’t agree with her as somehow less than patriotic. I believe it when she says she won’t compromise. Refusing to work with the Democrats seems to be a feature of Tea Party politics, as witnessed by her calling out Enzi for the few occasions he’s actually tried to work with Democrats to get something accomplished . I don’t care how long she’s been married or how many kids she has. She still sets my teeth on edge.Report

        • Art Deco in reply to Michelle says:

          Yeah, Elizabeth Cheney is totally like Gen. Queipo de Llano.

          The real Elizabeth Cheney is a Washington haut bourgeois lapsed lawyer aspirant legacy pol. In terms of her background, she has very little in common with the archetypal Tea partisan. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann have a great deal of affinity for the Tea party. Elizabeth Cheney, not so much. Answering questions about the company her sister keeps will also lead to some awkward spots with Tea partisans or her immediate family. I think you will find social conservatives had a somewhat reactive affection for George Bush the Younger, but that does not extend to the Cheney crew.

          (And, yes, the Democratic Congressional caucus and the Hollywood gauche are unpatriotic, but that’s an argument for another day).Report

          • Russell M in reply to Art Deco says:

            Well At least your upfront about your views. nice to know you consider the DCC and hollywood unpatriotic, just because they don’t act or believe as you wish they would. good thing we live in a free country where people are free to have their own thoughts and actions without being shot in the street as traitors to the fatherland. or as you might prefer the Decoland.Report

          • Michelle in reply to Art Deco says:

            Liz Cheney is a textbook neocon with the belligerent foreign policy views of her Daddy. She’s also takes up the banner of the Tea Party when convenient, although she fails to reach the level of sheer craziness represented by Palin or Bachmann. She’s much better educated and far too entrenched in the beltway elite to trade in the kind of fundie-banter Palin and Bachmann engage in.. But the call for no compromises–pure Tea Party.Report

            • Art Deco in reply to Michelle says:

              Here we go again.

              The term ‘neo-conservative’ was coined by Peter Steinfels in 1979 to describe a coterie of academics, opinion journalists and editors dissatisfied with various currents of thought within the Democratic Party. It included some quondam officials (e.g. Paul Nitze), but just one person immersed in electoral politics (Daniel Patrick Moynihan). There was a next of publications and letterhead organizations with which these people were associated. One could argue they could move some blocs of grant money and that officials would return the phone calls of some of the more influential (e.g. Elliot Abrams), but that’s about it. As the salience of their signature issues declined, these people went their various ways, some (Moynihan, Penn Kemble) returning to the Democratic Party at various points and some occupying a position within the generic brain trust of the Republican Party (William Kristol). Norman Podhoretz himself noted that ‘neo-conservative’ had by 1992 ceased to be a distinct strand of thought within the Republican Party. The very youngest person associated with this crew whose work you might see in print today would be Michael Lind, who started his career as an aide to Irving Kristol. Lind is 51 (and a partisan Democrat, btw). Unlike their fathers, John Podhoretz and William Kristol had no history as promoters of lefty perspectives on anything).

              Please note, Richard Cheney in 1968, in 1977, and in 1991 was a standard issue Republican pol. He never had an particular association with this crew. The Podhoretz-Kristol cohort came to be very invested in Ronald Reagan and that Administration. Cheney was a loyal Republican during the Reagan years, but his own nexus of associations has been with Gerald Ford and the Bush clan, who had a very different approach to political life than did Ronald Reagan.Report

  8. One needn’t had been in the upper room receiving the body of Christ to be considered a disciple (of neocon philosophy in this case).

    1) Couching disputes between nations as a struggle between good and evil (the axis of evil is a easy stand in for the USSR)

    2) Gun point foreign policy. (ye old might makes right)Report

  9. westie says:

    Cheney hopefully will be embarrassed when her tail is flambéed and she loses by 30 points to Enzi. Damn NeoCons need the SRLD treatment.Report