Liz Cheney, if you can believe it, wants to be elected to the U.S. Senate in order to sharpen political divisions there. At a time when nearly everyone is sick of hyperpartisanship in Washington, Cheney pledges, in effect, to push it to a whole new level.
Cheney's announcement Tuesday that she will challenge Republican Sen. Mike Enzi made us sit up and take notice. Here you have a resident of Virginia and daughter of the former vice president who moved her family to Wyoming only this past fall, claiming what amounts to an entitled right to office. She is using her family name and fame to launch an assault on a political figure whose seniority provides Wyoming with far more clout than it otherwise would enjoy.
And why? Cheney can't very well acknowledge that the overriding reason for her decision is raw ambition stoked by impatience. And she can't — or at least hasn't — cited a slew of votes on which she differs from Enzi. No, in her announcement she basically cited two reasons that distinguish her from her opponent-to-be: her age and her truculence.
It's time for "a new generation to step up to the plate," she said in a reference to their ages (46 vs. 69). Meanwhile, she added, Wyoming needs someone who "will never compromise when our freedom is at stake" or "get along to go along." This sort of rhetoric may play well as a general principle, but it should alarm voters when the target is someone with the small-government, conservative voting record of Enzi. A pushover he's not.
Indeed, Cheney's hard edges remind us of her father, Dick Cheney, whose take-no-prisoners style and policies helped to isolate and undermine the Bush administration. To this day, the elder Cheney remains a strident proponent of untrammeled presidential power in the war on terror as well as an interventionist military.
Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, also a Republican, told The New York Times that Enzi could only be in trouble "if there's a weird group of Republicans who think compromise is akin to communism." In the real world, of course, compromise is the only way some of our major political challenges, from immigration to entitlements, will ever be tackled at all.