Liz Cheney Championed the Truth and Then Embraced a Liar—Her Dad

·5 min read
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Getty Images

As Rep. Liz Cheney made her high-minded pronouncements about the importance of truth and courage and genuine patriotism during the congressional hearing into the Jan. 6 insurrection, she was shadowed by a question that fairness left largely unspoken.

“What about your freaking father?”

But one of the propelling principles of the hearing-turned-reality-show was justice. And to have held former Vice President Dick Cheney’s lies and cowardice against her would have been blaming the child for the sins of the father.

Then, two weeks after the final, prime-time hearing in which Liz Cheney declared, “We must remember that we cannot abandon the truth and remain a free nation,” she posted a campaign ad featuring her dad.

“He is a coward,” Dick Cheney said of Donald Trump. “A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters.”

That from a man who had lied the whole country into the war in Iraq, killing thousands and costing us the sense of unity and purpose inspired by the actual real men of the FDNY who went up into the towers.

The sins of this father include fabricating a pretext to send others into combat after he himself secured five draft deferments during the Vietnam War.

And, as The Washington Post has noted, Liz Cheney may owe her very existence to her father’s effort to avoid being sent into harm’s way. Dick Cheney was briefly classified as 1A and draft-eligible after married men without children were deemed no longer exempt. He was in danger of being drafted for all of 10 weeks when he secured a 3A exemption because his wife, Lynne, was pregnant with their first child. Liz was born six and a half months later. The math suggests that she was conceived within days of her father becoming draft eligible, serving as a fetus for Dick Cheney what a supposed bone spur served for the equally draft-adverse Donald Trump.

“I had other priorities in the ‘60s than military service,” Dick Cheney later said.

Nobody can rightly blame Liz Cheney for having been the fetal equivalent of a bone spur. And although she was 35 on 9/11, she should not be held accountable for her father's falsehoods that Iraq had links to al Qaeda and constituted an imminent threat to the United States.

“There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney said in August of 2002... “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

As a result of those lies, heroes who responded to 9/11 as if it were Pearl Harbor found themselves not in Afghanistan seeking to battle al Qaeda, but in a country that did not in fact have anything to do with the attack. Dick Cheney uttered not a syllable of remorse for having betrayed what was best in us. He continued to be the opposite of a real man: a cold and cowardly bully avoidant of responsibility for his words and deeds.

In 2013, Liz Cheney ran for senate in Wyoming and seemed very much her father’s daughter when she took a politically advantageous stand against gay marriage even though her younger sister Mary was a lesbian with a longtime partner. Mary took vocal exception to her sister’s position. Their mother joined their father in backing Liz.

“This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public,” Dick and Lynne said in a joint statement then. “Since it has, one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage.”

Liz Cheney lost nonetheless. But she was elected three years later to Wyoming’s lone seat in the House of Representatives, which had been held by her father before he became secretary of defense and then vice president. She proved to be as conservative as her father, but diverged from him by displaying actual integrity after a mob of lie-fueled Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.

She almost certainly would have been able to breeze into re-election this year if she had not voted for the second impeachment. Her political fortunes in Wyoming dimmed as she, the daughter of one big liar, continued to stand up against an even bigger one.

Everyone who rejected Trump's big lie about the stolen election had to see her as very much her own person as she became a courageous champion of truth during the Jan. 6 hearings. She seemed proof that a real woman would lie to her supporters or anyone else.

How could any lover of truth not have cheered during that final scheduled hearing when she so forcefully condemned what she termed “the worst part of Trump.”

“Donald Trump knows that millions of Americans who supported him would stand up and defend our nation were it threatened,” she declared. “They would put their lives and their freedom at stake to protect her. And he is preying on their patriotism. He is preying on their sense of justice.

She went on, “And on Jan. 6, Donald Trump turned their love of country into a weapon against our Capitol and our Constitution.”

But Wyoming was still Wyoming. And as the primary neared she seemed to turn desperate in the face of near-certain defeat and posted that ad. Dick Cheney wore a white cowboy hat that made him look all the more like one of the bad guys.

“I think most Republicans know Lynne and I are so proud of Liz for standing up for the truth, doing what's right, honoring her oath to the constitution,” said the liar. “And so many in our party are too scared to do so. Liz is fearless. She never backs down from the fight.

“I am Dick Cheney. I proudly voted for my daughter,” he said.

Then came the voice of the women who otherwise would have merited the sympathy of all lovers of truth.

“I'm Liz Cheney and I approve this message.”

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