Opinion: Others withered and broke, Liz Cheney didn’t bend; her fidelity deserves respect

·4 min read
Moe Davis ran against Madison Cawthorn to represent North Carolina's 11th Congressional District.
Moe Davis ran against Madison Cawthorn to represent North Carolina's 11th Congressional District.

To say I have a love-hate relationship with the Cheneys might imply that the two emotions are in equilibrium. Truth be told, the love-hate balance is light on love. Vice President Dick Cheney was head cheerleader for the Bush Administration’s torture policy, which ultimately led to my resignation as the Chief Prosecutor for the terrorism trials at Guantanamo Bay. Later, I became a vocal anti-torture and anti-Guantanamo advocate, and I was particularly hard on Vice President Cheney who I’ve said should be held accountable for what many contend are war crimes.

Liz Cheney served in the State Department during the Bush Administration and co-chaired the Iran-Syria Policy and Operations Group where her hardline views mirrored those of her father.  In 2009, she and journalist Bill Kristol co-founded Keep America Safe, a nonprofit that, among other things, fought to stop President Barack Obama from closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. I took Liz Cheney and Keep America Safe to task in 2010 after they launched a disgraceful attack on lawyers in the Obama Justice Department they dubbed “the Al Qaeda Seven” because they represented Guantanamo detainees prior to joining the Justice Department. And I wasn’t alone in my criticism of Cheney for her role in the “Al Qaeda Seven” smear. Many prominent Republicans – including Ken Starr, John Bellinger, Ted Olson and even Sen. Lindsey Graham – publicly condemned Cheney for impugning the integrity and patriotism of attorneys who upheld the American tradition of zealously defending those accused of horrific acts.

My criticism did not go unnoticed. Long before she ran to represent Wyoming in the U.S. House of Representatives, Liz Cheney blocked me on Twitter. A few years later, as I was waiting in the Green Room at the Fox News studio adjacent to the Capitol to tape a segment with Catherine Herridge, in walked Congresswoman Liz Cheney. I doubt she had a clue who I was and our interaction, albeit brief, was not unpleasant. … She even chuckled when I asked the woman doing my pre-shoot makeup if she could make me look like Ryan Reynolds.

When it comes to policy, there aren’t many areas where Liz Cheney and I agree, which is evidenced by the fact that she voted in lockstep with President Donald Trump 93% of the time when he was in office. That’s a higher percentage than Virginia Foxx, Ted Budd, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Thom Tillis, Richard Burr and Ted Cruz. Cheney is anti-abortion, pro-guns, pro-fracking, anti-immigrant, pro-wall, and a foreign policy hawk.  Given that history, common sense would suggest that I should be happy to see Liz Cheney voted out of office.

Well, that’s not the case.

I was stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and witnessed firsthand the reverence for the Cheney name in Wyoming politics. It’s remarkable that blind fealty to an immoral, habitual lying, draft-dodging, insurrectionist despot caused that to crumble. While I disagree with Liz Cheney on nearly every significant policy issue, I agree with her that loyalty to the Constitution and to the country outweigh loyalty to a conman or a party untethered from American democracy.

Former Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge led the effort to enact gun control legislation in Australia following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 and later lost his bid for reelection. In a 2013 interview with John Oliver on "The Daily Show," Mr. Borbidge said he knew there would be a political price to pay for backing gun control legislation but doing the right thing and saving lives was worth more than winning an election.

The same is true for Liz Cheney.

In the immediate aftermath of domestic terrorists attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and others spoke up and told the truth about Trump’s culpability in inciting the insurrection. But it didn’t take long for courage to retreat and for most to decide that honesty was not the best policy if they wanted to remain in office. While the momentarily honest men decided to shut their mouths, bend their knees, and prostrate themselves before a demagogue to avoid his wrath, Liz Cheney chose to put her oath to the Constitution first and suffer the consequences. She paid the political price in order to do the right thing. Regardless of what you think about Liz Cheney on policies, you have to respect her fidelity to America and to democracy.  As others withered and broke, Liz Cheney didn’t bend.

When I ran for Congress in 2020, I said no one should be in public office who isn’t willing to lose if that’s what it takes to do the right thing. Platitudes like that are easily spoken, but they’re hard to live. I salute Liz Cheney for taking the hard road and paying the price to do what’s right. She put America first in the very best sense of the term.

Moe Davis was the Democratic candidate in the race for the 11th District seat in the U.S. House of Representative.

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Moe Davis: While others withered and broke, Liz Cheney didn’t bend