DAVID SHRIBMAN: The Cheneys support their daughter | Opinion

If you’ve muted the TV, closed the door to keep the mittens away from the street, and listened intently the other day, you might have heard the voice of John Quincy Adams.

John Quincy Adams, you ask? You may not have heard of him since 11th grade in American history. He was the sixth president, and after that a simple member of the House of Representatives who became an outspoken anti-slavery voice – but if you listened, you might have heard JQA himself.

I think I’ve heard him, speak across two centuries, Stentorian in speech though reviled by his former Massachusetts allies and admirers for supporting the 1807 embargo measure against Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. He was talking about the Bay State Federalists’ reaction to his act of apostasy: their support for the foreign policy centerpiece of Thomas Jefferson, who had defeated his beloved father, hero, mentor and example, John Adams, at the presidency in 1800.

“Most completely I was abandoned by my friends,” he said. “I can never be grateful enough to Providence that my father and mother did not join in this general desecration.”

Abigail and John Adams supported their son, just as Lynne and Dick Cheney supported their daughter 215 years later.

John Adams had been President of the United States and had to swallow his son’s defection from party orthodoxy that sent him to the White House as the first occupant of the new executive mansion. Dick Cheney was Vice President of the United States and had to swallow his daughter’s defection from the party orthodoxy that sent him to the House, the Pentagon, the White House (as chief of staff to Gerald Ford) and the vice-presidential hotel.

In time, the elder Adams did what seemed inconceivable when he was in the center of the arena; he engages in a warm rapprochement and a correspondence of indescribable importance with his former partisan rival, a sort of break with federalism which, in any case, is slipping away.

In the period since leaving Washington in 2009, the elder Cheney did what seemed inconceivable while at the center of the modern political arena; he walked away from the GOP that had been so much a part of his life and engaged in a Wyoming-style range war with his party’s next chairman, knowing that the Republican Party of Gerald Ford, George HW Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush and, alas, Dick Cheney himself, were quickly eclipsed.

In time, young Adams ran for president and entered the White House in 1825. In time, young Cheney might well run for president, hoping that she might enter the White House exactly two centuries later. John Quincy Adams. She certainly suggested that the night she conceded her House race to Harriet Hageman, a natural resources lawyer whose campaign was handled by the firm of Bill Stepien, a former Trump campaign official who was a star witness in the January 6 committee.

Of course, these historical flights are as dangerous as they are interesting. On the other side of Mrs. Cheney’s view of the Republican Party is another story from history, that of a Democratic President, Grover Cleveland, who, deprived of a second term, returned in force four years later to reclaim the White House and become the sole chief executive for non-consecutive terms. The fable of Adams on the side of Never Trump has the fable of Cleveland on the side of Trump Forever.

But for now, Cheney’s story resonates, and not because she has a plausible chance to be president – she doesn’t, despite the sincerest wishes and dearest hopes of those who have once criticized her views on fossil fuels (she totally agrees), guns (her campaign bragged about owning one and being “a proud co-sponsor of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act”) and abortion rights (generally opposed), but who revere her stance against former President Donald Trump.

She is at the center of the American conversation because she is at the center of a struggle for the soul of the Republican Party.

Oh no you say? Not another struggle for the soul of the Republican Party?

Wasn’t there one in 1952, when the conservatives symbolized by Senator Robert Taft of Ohio (“Mister Republican”) clashed with the moderates symbolized by Dwight Eisenhower (who had never even voted, much less been a member of the GOP)? And one in 1988, when religious conservatives symbolized by the Reverend Pat Robertson (running on the right wing and a prayer) sought to overthrow the Republican establishment symbolized by the elder Bush (who would soon forget he had asked party to “read my lips” and swore never to raise taxes)?

And the big one, in 1964, when the conservatives symbolized by Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona (whose campaign slogan was “In your heart, you know he’s right”) battled with the moderates symbolized by the Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York (whose supporters said of Mr. Goldwater that “in your gut you know he’s crazy”)?

This year’s most significant moment came days before the election, when B-list actor Ronald Reagan delivered televised remarks now celebrated in legend as the “A Time for Choose” speech. That night he said:

“That’s what this election is about: whether we believe in our ability to govern ourselves or whether we abandon the American Revolution and admit that a small intellectual elite in a distant capital can plan our lives better than we can. themselves.

Close the door, strain your ears, and you can almost hear Mr. Trump utter those remarks without altering a single word.

But – politics being the irony conducted by other means – consider the identity of the guest at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on June 29. There to deliver the “A Time to Choose” speech was — and how delicious she must have thought — Liz Cheney. Here is what she said:

“Right now we are facing a threat from within that we have never faced before – and it is a former president who is trying to unravel the foundations of our Constitutional Republic. And he is being aided by Republican leaders and elected officials who made themselves the voluntary hostages of this dangerous and irrational man.

Get ready for Cheney vs. Trump: The Sequel. It’s already started.

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