Republicans v. conservatives

The House GOP crackup has come to this.

I’d like to share with you a game I’ve been playing today called “find a House member who wants Liz Cheney gone who gets a higher conservative rating than Liz Cheney.”

The conservative ratings I chose were from Heritage Action, the fire-breathing lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation. The New York Times has called it “perhaps now the most influential lobby group among Congressional Republicans.” But that was in 2013. The imminent defenestration of Rep. Liz Cheney (R.-Wy.) from the House leadership suggests that Heritage Action’s influence has waned.

The plan is to replace Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R.-N.Y.). Cheney’s Heritage Action rating is 98 percent. Stafanik’s is 84 percent.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R.-La.) became today the highest-ranking member of the House leadership to call for Cheney’s ouster. Scalise’s Heritage Action rating is 98 percent, same as Cheney’s. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy wants Cheney gone, too, but thus far he’s been too chicken to say so publicly except once, inadvertently, on a hot mic. McCarthy’s Heritage Action score is also 98 percent. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R.-Ga.), the congresswoman from QAnon, called Cheney a “fool” for criticizing Trump. Greene’s score is also 98 percent.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not consider the best House Republicans to be the ones with the most nearly perfect conservative ratings. I think a perfect or near-perfect ideological rating makes you kind of an apparatchik. My point is that until quite recently, House Republican apparatchiks wanted to have the best possible conservative ratings. No more! Now Republican apparatchiks want to be Trump cultists.

Donald Trump has denounced Cheney as a “warmongering fool.” Since when do Republicans use that kind of language as anything other than praise? Since about the same time Republicans were obliged to pretend that Joe Biden stole the election from Trump, that the Capitol Hill insurrection on Jan. 6 never happened, and that too goddamned many American citizens get to vote in this country. None of these positions is identifiably conservative. Conservatism has finally been defeated in America, but what we’re getting in its place appears to be worse.