That’s exactly what Cheney tweeted Monday, and it has only exacerbated the schism between her and McCarthy. During the last GOP leadership dustup a couple months ago, Cheney managed to keep her post as House Republicans conference chair through a combination of McCarthy’s continued backing and a caucus vote that took place by secret ballot.
But after distancing himself from Cheney last week, McCarthy threw her fully overboard Tuesday morning in a new Fox News interview. The issue, he said, wasn’t her vote to impeach Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol he inspired. Rather it’s her unwillingness to spread lies embraced by Trump and most of the GOP about supposed election fraud that didn’t actually exist.
“I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” McCarthy told Fox.
Wherein “the message” = the Big Lie.
A Cheney spokesperson shot back Tuesday with a statement in response to McCarthy’s interview. “This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan 6. Liz will not do that. That is the issue,” said her communications director, Jeremy Adler.
Between Cheney’s not-so-inconspicuous fist bump with President Joe Biden at last week’s address to Congress and her continued fealty to the truth, Cheney has clearly made a choice: It’s simply not possible to be anti-Trump lite, so she’s gone all in. One of the very few congressional Republicans who has refused to sell her soul to Trump and peddle his lies in order to advance politically. A Cheney, no less, but there you have it.
But Cheney is so far from the only problem dogging McCarthy, who wants to be speaker so badly he can almost taste it between the outflow of noxious lies he’s emitting.
Fox’s No. 1 superspreader of right-wing ideology, Tucker Carlson, has been slamming McCarthy for being too cozy with GOP pollster Frank Luntz—who has apparently made enemies by trashing Trump’s chances of making a political comeback following the assault Trump launched on the nation’s seat of government. There “isn’t a shred of hope” of Trump reentering politics, Luntz said in mid-February, according to Politico Playbook.
Now Carlson is attacking McCarthy for renting living space from Luntz, who owns a Penn Quarter penthouse. “Now you know why they listen to Frank Luntz but they don’t listen to you!” Carlson told his viewers in a five-minute diatribe targeting Luntz and McCarthy.
But the interesting thing here isn’t just Carlson’s fixation on McCarthy—it’s that some anonymous source is pouring gasoline on Carlson’s anti-McCarthy fire. Politico Playbook gets that part right:
To summarize: The star of Republicans’ network of choice is being fed oppo [research] about and is denouncing the man who wants to be speaker of the House. Not good for McCarthy, who, if the GOP takes back the House, will need 218 votes to secure the gavel. Remember what happened last time he went for it.
We do. That’s when Paul Ryan swept in to save the day. That worked out well.
Anyway, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The road back to GOP majorities in the House and Senate is going to be absolutely littered with internal sniping that just might manage to derail the effort. That’s exactly what happened in the Georgia runoffs—the GOP’s subservience to Trump actually cost them two Senate seats.