Republicans on Parade

Liz Cheney's Agenda; Ted Cruz's Prospects

07.18.13 2:31 PM ET

When Hillary Clinton was first considering running for Senate, Harold Ickes once told me, the first thing he said to her was something like this. The first thing to ask yourself is whether you really want that job. It's a hard job. Nonstop fundraising. Back and forth between Washington and New York on that shuttle all the time. Weekends up in Watertown and Oneonta listening to people bitch about their SSI payments. Being one of 100, very, very difficult to pass signature legislation. Yes, it's glamorous in some ways. But it's a slog.

Wise words, equally applicable in the Liz Cheney case. Why would she want to be a senator? She has enough standing in the GOP that she could already, conceivably, be someone's vice-presidential pick. She nails down the neocons for any candidate, and that could be important because none of the leading candidates right now is much of a neocon.

I don't know the woman. But I think Matt Duss at the Prospect has it correct here:

Cheney’s run can be seen as another escalation in the ongoing battle for control of Republican foreign policy. In a 2010 piece for the Nation, I looked at the developing alliance between the Cheneys and the neoconservative network led by The Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. Their goal, I wrote, was “to resuscitate the neocons' post-September 11 vision of a world in which the United States, unbound by rules or reality, imposes its will on friend and enemy alike.” The key instrument of that effort was Keep America Safe, a 501c4 organization (now shut down, its website and Twitter feed have disappeared) whose main function was to keep America scared with wild stories of the terrorists that Obama couldn’t wait to release into your neighborhood.

It's pretty clear that the momentum in the GOP is tilting away from Daddy's hard neocon views. Certainly in the rank-and-file, anyway, although the neocons definitely still dominate the Republican foreign-policy establishment. So I suspect Cheney wants to be a senator chiefly to carry the "more war" standard. Her social-issue views are either unknown (abortion) or slightly suspect (same-sex marriage, where her "let the states decide" view is presumably partly informed by the existence of her gay sister).

Meanwhile, please read this really smart take by Rich Yeselson in Politico on why Ted Cruz has a very legitimate shot at the GOP nomination in 2016. Yeselson writes:

So it’s best to think of Cruz as the perfect expression of what Perry and Rubio were mere beta versions: the exemplification, brilliantly articulated, of the fringe pathologies trapped in the body of a major party that is today’s GOP. Cruz is the real deal. He is deeply grounded in his worldview, and skilled in his presentation of it. He’s the man that rightwing activists must wish had started his national political career just a few years earlier: Is there any doubt that Ted Cruz would have been a more daunting challenger for Mitt Romney than the charlatans and bozos Romney defeated for the 2012 nomination?

It doesn’t take much imagination to envision a titanic faceoff in 2016 between Cruz and the round mound of Trenton town, Chris Christie, his only peer in sheer political talent and chutzpah among the other GOP presidential contenders. If so, following the withdrawal of the failed contenders, Cruz could lead a unified crusade of the Republican’s revanchist base against the latest in a long line of Northeastern poseurs, squishes, and RINOs.

Makes sense to me.