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“More money, more problems,” reads the title of a Wednesday Politico article about the two most vocal anti-Trump congressmen in the Republican Party.
“Exile in the House GOP,” it begins, “is proving extremely lucrative for Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.”
How lucrative? Cheney, we learn, raised “close to $1.9 million in the last quarter, bringing her to nearly $3.5 million total this year,” blowing past her 2020 haul. Kinzinger also outdid his 2020 numbers, which had never topped $350,000 a quarter, raising $1.1 million.
Seems like a lot of money! Politico’s homepage editor certainly thought so, or at least believed the anti-Trump clicks of their readers justified an above-the-fold placement at the top of the site. Republicans beware! But how does it stack up?
For the sake of comparison, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy raised $43.6 million, or more than 12 times Cheney’s war chest. Funny enough, he gave more money away to the National Republican Congressional Caucus than Cheney raised — more than three and a half times as much. But he’s the top dog, so how about a different comparison?
Maybe Republican Whip Steve Scalise: He raised $9 million in the second quarter, or nearly five times Cheney, bringing his total to $16.1 million so far this year. He gave nearly the entirety of this quarter’s donations to the NRCC, which has raised a massive $80 million so far and holds a $55 million piggybank that’s almost twice the size it was in 2019, the last non-election year.
And it is a non-election year, which makes it all very impressive. Heck, it’s even impressive for Cheney on paper, if a little less so when you realize all she has to do is fly back to Jackson Hole for her dad to call a meeting of the old vice president’s club to help his daughter out.
But what else do these numbers tell us? Beyond the simple increase in her fundraising, they give us a good look at exactly who Liz Cheney, the congresswoman from Wyoming, is.
Here’s a woman who was in the leadership of the GOP. Her job, conference chair, was not a very difficult one. It basically involved being a team player, helping her colleagues get their views and opinions out to the media, recruiting candidates, and raising money for the party. The problem, far beyond her hatred of former President Donald Trump, as she didn’t do anything that was in her job description.
Indeed, she did pretty much the opposite of her job description, working every chance she could to pull the media spotlight off of her colleagues (including her boss) and the GOP agenda, and onto herself and her own agenda. She also raised a paltry $3 million total, which Politico used to show how great her numbers are now.
It’s strange, though, how Liz Cheney puts more time and effort into funding her personal little campaign against the GOP, its former president, and the Wyoming Republican voters who gave her the job than she did when her job was to help the party she was caucus chairwoman of.
Of course, D.C.’s political reporters weren’t going to play her fundraising in any negative context. She knows she can turn to them when she needs something. She knew she could turn to them when she wanted to, say, overthrow and replace McCarthy.
“‘She Kind Of Reminds You Of Margaret Thatcher,’” read the Politico Magazine headline that laid out those ambitions. She’s the next big thing, we were told by the very special kind of anonymous sources that won’t go on the record to say a nice thing about their colleague. “Could the daughter of one of the more reviled leaders in recent GOP history become the face of the party as soon as next year?”
Never mind that a 2004-model, anti-populist neoconservative leading the 2020 GOP was laughably stupid — what mattered is she’d say mean things about Trump. When her very silly plan began to clash with basic reality, Politico was shocked. “Liz Cheney was once considered the future of the GOP,” one article began, citing a prediction only Liz Cheney and her reporter friends ever made. “Now she’s fighting to keep her political career alive.”
And when her colleagues got angry at her for little things like donating to a candidate who was actively primarying a sitting colleague, or attacking the president any chance she got, Politico’s headline read, “House Conservatives Pile On Cheney At GOP Conference Meeting.”
That was one way to look at it. “Margaret Thatcher” was another way, but if that seems a little tried, “fundraising queen: works too. Alternatively if we want to stick to basic reality we might go with “bitter, self-absorbed back-bencher who might survive her primary if she can enlist enough crossover Democrats to nullify Wyoming’s actual Republicans, but will still be irrelevant to anyone outside the corporate media.”
Of course, the reality is hard; Liz Cheney isn’t important there. But there’s no reason to face that music; in D.C.’s political media, you can dance to any tune you write.