Like a must-see binge-worthy TV series, we’re anxious to tune in to upcoming House Select Committee hearings and hear what former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has to say about his former boss and the attack on the U.S. Capitol. For now, we’re still unpacking revelations that moved seasoned reporters and politicos in the room to audible gasps, oohs, aahs and guffaws.
From former U.S. Attorney General William Barr to threatened election officials to former aide Cassidy Hutchinson, witnesses’ testimonies have been stunning. Especially courageous Hutchinson who has much to lose in spilling the horrid details. President Donald Trump throwing his lunch against the wall and ketchup dripping toward shards of White House china is certainly one image with staying power.
But it’s the understated, measured Liz Cheney, a blueblood conservative Republican of the Cheney dynasty, who deserves credit for researching, discerning fact from fiction, and taking viewers along a narrative arc toward the insurrection.
Cheney may be committing political suicide, risking her own re-election and further ostracization. Once a Trump supporter, Cheney said she’s doing this because Trump lied and he’s dangerous. And that was enough. Trump, drunk on desperation, incited violence, then demanded to be delivered to his armed-to-the-teeth supporters at the Capitol, where they hoped to decertify the election and make him their unelected autocrat. Step by step, Cheney guided us along the timeline.
It’s one thing to support Trump before the insurrection. It’s another to back him afterward. And it’s quite another to get behind Trump after these hearings.
Cheney is that lone wolf among Republicans who embrace or ignore the big lie or remain silent. By default, this silence is a pledge of allegiance to Trump more than to the rule of law. But silence enables liars. Like the folktale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” Cheney’s the one in the crowd with the backbone to say the emperor is naked. It’s all a farce.
It’s lonely, this business of standing up to Trump. In Capitol hallways, Cheney routinely walks by GOP leaders and colleagues who stripped her of her House leadership role for calling out Trump. They stare straight ahead.
Yet, Cheney said she investigated Trump because she loves her country more than politics. Platitudes ring false and talk of patriotism means nothing if lies are behind it. That’s not the case here. After a weekend of flag-waving and celebrating everything red, white and blue, we say if you want to see a real patriot, look no further than Cheney.
On Saturday night, drones over Durango snapped into formation to spell out USA, as spectators seemingly on cue squealed with delight. And on the Fourth of July, we had a moment when everyone stood together for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Even if only for the length of the song, the crowd bedecked in face-painted flags and streamers on bikes shared that unified national identity. It was something to see. No matter that we were likely equally split along party lines. That’s fine. That’s who were are. We can stand some disruption and division. The Founding Fathers certainly had rousing, spirited arguments before pulling together their radical vision.
But what we can’t tolerate any longer is the lie that has ripped apart this country. It’s undermined our electoral processes and eroded voter confidence. Neighbors have turned away from each other. Can we say, together, no more?
The way out is through it, in hearing witnesses’ sworn testimonies. Toward the light. Toward the truth. This is where Cheney and her committee are taking us. To the honest reality of what led to that dark day, Jan. 6, 2021. Where the lie has no legs.