Liz Misérables

A lot has been said about the family feud between the Cheney sisters, but few pundits have framed the dynamic involved more conciselythan commentator Joy Reid did on MSNBC yesterday, which I will get to shortly.

The Cheney feud features the ferocious heterosexual Liz, who is trying to get into the U.S. Senate by slandering a fellow conservative in Wyoming, and her non-heterosexual sister Mary. Being a darling of the rabid Tea Party right, and obviously wanting to become a national political figure, Liz finds it necessary to make sure every zealot in the country, especially in the Wyoming electorate, knows that just because her sister Mary is happily married to a woman, ol’ Liz won’t bless the matrimony with her public approval. “I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage,” she told the Republican Party News Channel, where she often appears as a political commentator.Liz Cheney formed Keep America Safe with William Kristol and Debra Burlingame.

Of course Liz is playing to the zealots here. We all know that. But why? Why would she feel the need to do that, when the country is obviously evolving on the gay marriage issue? That’s where Joy Reid got it right on MSNBC. Her simple remark was that Liz Cheney and other Tea Party Republicans “cannot afford to let go of the religious right because their base is shrinking so quickly.”  That’s it. The base of the party is shrinking, and Republicans believe they have to hold on to the one loyal group who will not abandon them, so long as they remain true to so-called biblical values.

Remember that most (about 90%) of Mitt Romney’s votes came from white folks and that white evangelicals represented about 23% of the 2012 electorate, giving Romney 79% of their vote. And remember that about 40% of the GOP base comprises white evangelicals. Thus, conservative Bible thumpers are the last refuge of Republican candidates.  They feel they have to go there in order to win. They don’t think they can afford to irk them. They believe they have to cozy up, at least rhetorically, to those with Iron Age sensibilities or else they will never again win another national election. (I am ignoring the fact that many, many Republican candidates are genuine Bible-thumpers themselves and mean every word they say in condemnation of homosexuality.)

Consider what Ron Brownstein wrote recently:

In 2012, President Obama lost white voters by a larger margin than any winning presidential candidate in U.S. history. In his reelection, Obama lost ground from 2008 with almost every conceivable segment of the white electorate. With several key groups of whites, he recorded the weakest national performance for any Democratic nominee since the Republican landslides of the 1980s.

In 2012, Obama won a smaller share of white Catholics than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1980; lost groups ranging from white seniors to white women to white married and blue-collar men by the widest margin of any Democrat since Ronald Reagan routed Walter Mondale in 1984; and even lost among Democratic-leaning college-educated women by the widest margin since Michael Dukakis in 1988, according to the latest National Journal analysis of the trends that shape the allegiances of American voters.

Yet, Obama won the election. He got a mere 39% of the white vote and he won. And, as Brownstein put it, he “won fairly comfortably.” We all know, of course, the biggest reason why Obama won. He trounced Romney among minority voters, getting the nod from 93% of blacks, 71% of Hispanics, and 73% of Asians. And we all know that the browning of America, which fills white conservatives with a disturbing angst, is inexorably proceeding—“Census: More minority U.S. births than white now”—and we all know that the Tea Party message has not and will not appeal all that much to non-whites. But there are some conservatives out there, as Brownstein points out, who,

insist that Republicans, by improving both turnout and already-gaping margins among whites, can recapture the White House in 2016 without reformulating their agenda to attract more minority voters…

Yes, believe it or not, serious number-crunchers writing for conservative websites believe that if only more white folks would show up and vote, the Republicans wouldn’t have to change a damn thing! Thus, there are a lot of Republican candidates who believe they cannot afford to turn off a single white evangelical and that is why we have Liz Cheney publicly dissing her gay sister’s marriage.

Now, there is a lot wrong with Liz Cheney (as her appearance on Fox News Sunday demonstrated), but I am sure she loves her sister. She cares about her. And presumably she knows that her sister Mary and her wife are not really sinners condemned by God. But she dare not say so in front of conservative evangelicals, one of the legs that holds up a teetering Republican Party. She dare not say it to people who believe that homosexuality is not only a sin, but a sin that will send you straight to hell without passing go or collecting money from the Koch brothers.

The dilemma for Republicans going forward is that appealing to the sensibilities of Bible extremists turns off a goodly number of voters. And Republicans might want to consider this graphic from Brownstein’s article:

religious whites affiliation trend

Yikes. That’s a pretty big jump. As the Pew Research Center also found out about those unaffiliated voters:

unaffiliated ideology

Yikes, again. The trend is toward more religiously unaffiliated voters and those voters are almost twice as likely to be liberals as conservatives.

Maybe Liz ought to apologize to her sister.



  1. As for the overt sliminess of Liz Cheney — I guess the horseapple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Liz and her posse have bruned that gay-hater brand pretty deep. Even if she (they) backed off tomorrow, it would be 2020 before the voters they need to attract would be willing to forgive and forget. Too late. The GOP will be a distant memory by then. Thank goodness, because there are so many things wrong with the GOP/TP — so many things wrong for America and the world, ther just isn’t space in this blog to consider them all.


    • I hope you’re right about the GOP being a distant memory by 2020, at least the GOP we know today. And there is a lot wrong with America and the world, but hasn’t that always been the case? Looking back at the last century, maybe dealing with protracted and widespread economic problems today is preferable to dealing with all the war and destruction we saw. I say that knowing that here in the United States there is one party that doesn’t want to address those economic problems in any substantive or effective way. They just want power.


  2. RDG,

    I can’t remember where I read this, but someone described the Cheney family as “second-rate Borgias”.


  3. Kiss ass title for this topic Duane. Liz Miserables: The soundtrack please.


  4. I’m not sure you touch on the importance of evangelicals in GOP primaries including that in Wyoming. Liz is in a tough fight there, and that forces her to go where she does with her sister as a politician. I don’t think it speaks well of her character though.


    • Nor does it speak well of the GOP base.


    • Bruce, I don’t think Liz is in a tough fight at all. At least not at the moment. The last polling on that race I saw showed her down 53 points. Now, I don’t know if it is worth selling your integrity (what little she may have had) for a marginal increase in your poll numbers in such a race, do you?


      • My intent in brief comment was just to explain her behavior. My assumption is that for Liz Cheney to campaign as ‘the lady that tolerates her gay sister’ would be a big disadvantage among Wyoming GOP primary voters, so she makes a reprehensible choice to throw Mary under the bus.

        My last sentence was likely too weak. To throw a family under bus like she has is despicable. I don’t think I’m in disagreement with your post.


  5. ansonburlingame

     /  November 20, 2013

    There are and always will be conservative political views and liberal political views. There are and always will be religious dogmas and dictates that will divide people as well, all over the world. When those things get mixed together then watch out, as noted by our Founders.

    I will go head to head with anyone commenting in this blog espousing progressive or liberal extremes to govern. I will always lean to the conservative approach and vote accordingly as well. But I will join hands with anyone commenting in this blog that opposes the religious intrusion into American politics as well as long as they do not espouse a “new religion” and call it politics.

    As an individual, the choice for me at the polls is usually rather easy. Put McCaskill up against a politically conservative opponent and I will vote for the opponent, most of the time. But put her up against Todd Akin, and my choice remains easy as well and I vote for her, holding my nose in doing so.

    But then confront me with a choice at the polls between Billy Long and Duane Graham!!! I might shoot myself before entering the polling booth!! Call that the “other choice” if you like!!

    Now to the title of this blog, Les Mis. Put a man such as the “hero” of that story and I will vote for him every time. But I refuse to vote for the “barkeeper”, the low life scum doing all he can to squeeze every nickel out the the pockets of anyone coming his way.

    Obama has tried very hard to be viewed as Jean Val Jean but to me he now is seen as the “barkeeper”. As the barkeeper’s wife sang, “there ain’t much there”, except empty promises and hopes unfulfilled. Face it “guys”, you really could care less if a person gets to keep his insurance policy as promised by the “barkeeper”. Just rip it out of his hands using the oversold law to do so and give all those benefits to someone else, many of whom are barkeepers themselves!!



    • Anson,

      Shooting yourself in the head is rather extreme. However, you could just nail your testicles to the sidewalk like the Russian artist who opted for a painful – but certainly novel– way to exhibit dissatisfaction. Although the Russian was protesting against apathy, I can understand how a choice between Billy and Duane could drive an “independent conservative” to pound their family jewels into concrete.


      • Correction: Replace head with foot.


      • Wow. I saw that guy. What a spectacle. I was in pain just watching that.

        I suggest, should Anson take you up on your suggestion, using 32nd and Range Line Road instead of the sidewalk. I think a Saturday night about 6:00pm would be perfect, what with all the would-be diners moving about. In no time, the heavy traffic would make him forget all about his grieving gonads. And I could be persuaded, with the aid of a hundred-dollar bill (or two tickets to see Grand Funk Railroad at Downstream Casino) to announce publicly that I would forgo any campaign against Ozark Billy, thus allowing Anson to separate his nutsack from the pavement in time to let seafood-craving Joplinites make their way unimpeded to Red Lobster.


        • The Peterson fell out my mouth reading this, burning a hole in my last unmarred Norm Thompson pullover. Considering your terms, I see why you have the reputation as a hard-nosed union negotiator. Should Anson decide to pay a “downtrodden” several dollars over the minimum wage to act as his testicle-nailing protesting-proxy, my offer is $25 dollars and tickets to see Crazy Mule in concert.

          The link should show that they are comparable to Grand Funk sans Mark Warner.


    • I agree that Duane and Billy represent opposite points of the pendulum’s arc: Duane is more reason, research and integrity — while Billy is more in the frothing, hearsay and corruption camp. Isn’t that your point, Anson? Yes, I thought so. Deep in your soul you want to vote for Duane, but there’s something about GOP Koolaid that seems to grab a man hard — by his scrotum (careful how you nail that down, brother) and convulse him into a slobbering, shameless cold-heartedness and hatred for any of “the others.” The GOP is dead. If you want 2 parties, better build one fast.


      • You are so right, my friend. In fact, to confirm your observations, here is a photo taken of Anson and me years ago at a Joplin Tea Party rally where I’m showing him some liberal affection and where is he waving the flag, which  demonstrates his subconscious willingness to support my potential candidacy:


    • Once again, I will avoid the delicious temptation to respond to this:

      But then confront me with a choice at the polls between Billy Long and Duane Graham!!! I might shoot myself before entering the polling booth!! Call that the “other choice” if you like!!

      The penumbra left by my evangelical upbringing forbids me to properly address that comment.

      But I do want to address this one:

      I will go head to head with anyone commenting in this blog espousing progressive or liberal extremes to govern. I will always lean to the conservative approach and vote accordingly as well. 

      You now what? That is about as close-minded a statement as I have heard in a while, especially as it precedes a criticism of “religious intrusion into American politics.” You know why? Because it has all the dogmatism of a religious fanatic, Anson. You said, “I will always lean to the conservative approach.” Why? Why say “always”? If I had said that twenty years ago I would still be a Rush Limbaugh Republican today. I don’t understand such thinking, outside a religious context. So, I submit to you that, despite your criticism of the Todd Akins of the world, in many, if not all, ways you are just as parochial in your brand of thinking as they are, even if the corners are rounded off a bit.

      What’s wrong with saying, “I lean toward conservatism now, but I am open to new and better evidence and reserve the right to change my mind”?



  6. Wow! It seems the lines are drawn more clearly than I had seen heretofore.

    I think there are two philosophies operating in the world that inform humans about how they treat each other. One is, in simple terms, “I got mine, and good luck to the rest of you!” accompanied by the sound of a closing door.

    The other is “I got where I am with the assistance of many helpful people, and I should give back when and where I can!” accompanied by the sound of someone reaching into their metaphorical pocketbook.

    I think you can see those philosophies at work in every economic and social level; they are not reserved for rich or poor, successful or failing, or any other way you can divide people.

    Except for Conservative or Liberal; in that “division”, the philosophy embraced is the main factor. I find that interesting.


  7. ansonburlingame

     /  November 21, 2013

    After wading through all the nut nailing suggestions, I respond with more detail. I will always lean to the conservative view, but not stand there only in saying it is always right. Recall my support of gun control and Choice in abortions and I get lambasted by people on the right when I do so.

    But give me a choice between “spend the money because we need it” or “live within your means and adjust your needs” and I will come close to always supporting the latter. Duane on the other hand always supports to former approach, in most cases.

    If this country ever reaches the point where choices at polls are restricted to “Billy Long OR Duane Graham” well I would be in deep consternation. Thank God it is not that bad, yet. On the other hand, if the choice was McCaskill or Blunt, well you know how I would vote and you will scream your heads off when I suggest such a path at the polls. Some in here would even hold me down while another used the hammer and nail on Range Line!!

    What I really expected from the Les Miz comparison was screams of indignation over refering to “Obama” (meaning progressives) as the “barkeeper”. But no one even touched that point. Go into a meeting (or tavern) with the “barkeeper” and keep a firm hand on your wallet was my point. About 3 million people whose HC insurance policies have been ripped from their hands now know what I mean!! Now I also am reading that many major hospitals around the country have refused to participate in Obamacare policies as well. Wonder why that is the case? The “barkeeper said” ………



%d bloggers like this: