The Cheney in waiting
Dick Cheney’s daughter wants to be a senator! To give Wyoming a conservative voice! Well, it’s about time somebody thought of that.
“Over the last several years, citizens across our great state have urged me to consider running for the Senate,” Liz Cheney said, announcing her candidacy via YouTube. This is now the way to do everything in politics. Soon we will be breathlessly reporting that the new president just posted his inaugural address video.
But a couple of problems with that statement. One is that Cheney only moved to Wyoming last fall, so people were apparently begging her to represent them while she was there on vacation.
Lately, we’ve had a lot of politicians explain that they’re running for office because folks kept coming up and begging them to go for it. Generally, these are people whose plans are deeply unwelcome by the other members of their party. But nobody ever says, “I have decided to heed the clarion call of my insatiable need for attention.” Instead, they blame it on random pedestrians.
Everybody knows that no sane politician will actually decide to embark on a major campaign because the man on the street decreed it must be so. Particularly if you are in a place like Wyoming where there actually aren’t all that many streets and the people you are running into are attending your fundraisers.
“I thought we were friends,” the blindsided incumbent, Mike Enzi, said of his new opponent. If he wins, he should definitely send her that statement embroidered on a pillow.
The Senate races aren’t till 2014, but things are already heating up. True, they’re a little warmer in some places than others. For instance, if you’re a Democrat who thinks it would be fun to run for office, there’s still that opening in West Virginia. Really. Just move there and post an announcement on YouTube.
We’ll get a preview this October when New Jersey voters elect a successor to the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Right now, the money is on Mayor Cory Booker of Newark. If you do not know who Cory Booker is, send him a note and he will come to your house and introduce himself. Or find your lost car keys. Or clean your furnace. Really, just give him a list.
You may be wondering why New Jersey is having a Senate election just a few weeks before everybody there goes to vote for governor. Because Nov. 5 is Chris Christie’s day, that’s why. Keep away from it.
But about Wyoming. Nobody expects the Republicans to lose Enzi’s seat, but there is currently nothing that makes the Democrats happier than seeing the opposition torn apart by a primary featuring scary right-wing candidates. Particularly scary right-wing candidates with famous names that will remind the nation of how we came to have a war in Iraq.
Plus, the opinion of Wyoming residents is extremely important. When it comes to Senate seats, in fact, each Wyoming registered voter is approximately 70 times more important than a registered voter in California. Obviously, they’re exceptionally smart. Otherwise the Founding Fathers would never have let that happen.
So what do you think Wyoming wants? Somebody younger? Cheney is 46, and apparently planning on suggesting — in the most discreet way possible — that Enzi is toast at 69. Since the average age of the current Senate is around 62, however, he is barely brown around the edges.
Somebody further to the right? Enzi was ranked the eighth most conservative human being in the Senate in the last National Journal survey. No. 1 was James Risch of Idaho. Would “Elect a Woman Who’s More Extreme Than the Idaho Guy” be a compelling campaign slogan?
Do you think Wyoming wants somebody who will be more impossible for the other senators to work with? Enzi is a low-key, well-liked kind of legislator, and Liz Cheney is definitely sending a message that she’s not going to do that. “I will never compromise when our freedom is at stake,” Cheney said stoutly. Freedom is, of course, at stake every single minute of the day.
Do you think Wyoming wants a fresh face? Cheney is extremely fresh, having lived in the Virginia suburbs until recently. In her YouTube announcement, she basically argued that her genes were from Wyoming, where her grandmother was the first female deputy sheriff of Natrona County. She frequently points out that her great-grandmother was a settler who walked across the state in her bare feet. If we could get a re-enactment of that, it could make this a campaign for the ages.
Meanwhile, her supportive father has agreed to take part in Wyoming’s annual antelope hunt competition with Colorado. Exciting things happen when Dick Cheney goes off to shoot wild critters.
Gail Collins is a columnist for The New York Times.