House Republicans voted Wednesday to strip Liz Cheney, the party’s third-ranking member in the House, of her leadership positions, as part of the purge on members of the party who don’t publicly back Donald Trump’s baseless claims on 2020 election fraud.
It was a striking portrait of the Republican party’s loyalty to the former president, since Cheney, the daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, has been a staunch conservative in Congress since the Bush years. “Cheney cheered on illegal torture and disastrous wars, helped pave the way for Trump and stood by him throughout the 2016 election and his first his impeachment, but she’s not being punished for any of that,” Seth Meyers explained on Late Night.
“She’s being punished for acknowledging the reality that Trump lost in 2020 and that there was no widespread fraud, for criticizing him for inciting a violent insurrection to overturn the results,” he continued. “Living in reality should be the bare minimum for holding public office, and yet today’s GOP is so batshit crazy simply living in reality is considered heresy.”
Following the ouster, which occurred in a voice vote during a closed-door meeting, House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, a Trump acolyte, praised the party’s unity and added, “unlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate.”
“You guys are the ones purging someone from GOP leadership for questioning party dogma,” Meyers retorted. “You’re like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz – it turns out the cancel culture you were looking for was right there inside you all along.”
“Cheney has been outspoken in her criticism of former president ‘A Man for All Treasons,’ and his big lie that the 2020 election was stolen by digital democratic Hugo Chavez zombies,” Stephen Colbert recapped on Wednesday, “but the real problem for GOP leaders is that Cheney kept inconveniently bringing up the attempted coup.”
The Wyoming congresswoman’s refusal to dismiss Trump’s role in inciting the 6 January siege on the Capitol angered McCarthy, who insisted after Cheney’s ouster that the GOP remains a “big tent party.”
“Oh it’s a big tent all right,” Colbert mocked, “there’s room for QAnons, Pizzagaters, people afraid Jewish space lasers, everyone’s welcome. Except Liz Cheney. And gay people, and Asian people. And black people. But we’re going to give them a separate but equal tent.”
Cheney remained defiant on her way out, telling reporters she’d “do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”
“And she’s serious about it,” Colbert added. “Today she was seen blocking the door to the Oval Office with a wall of salad.”
Cheney also delivered an impassioned speech on the House floor just after several GOP congressmen decried “cancel culture.” “Railing against cancel culture right before you cancel someone for holding a different opinion is like shooting a Just Say No commercial and then celebrating by doing a line of coke off of Nancy Reagan’s ass,” Colbert joked.
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah looked into Elise Stefanik, the woman expected to replace Cheney as the GOP’s third-ranking member. Stefanik was elected to Congress at age 30 in 2014, as a moderate conservative from upstate New York, and “for awhile, Stefanik was pretty much what used to be called a normal Republican,” someone committed to the party but not afraid to criticize Trump’s so-called Muslim ban, wall initiatives, and misogynistic comments captured on the Access Hollywood tape.
But starting in late 2019, “she saw an opportunity to make like Billie Eilish and give herself an eye-catching new image,” Noah said. Stefanik pivoted hard toward back the President’s baseless claims of a liberal conspiracy in hearings for Trump’s first impeachment, prompting Trump to tweet “a new Republican star is born.” Her fundraising and profile exploded, and she started appearing regularly on Fox News.
“To outsiders, this might have seemed like Stefanik suddenly embracing the dark side, like Anakin turning into Darth Vader – except for the part about wearing a mask,” Noah said. “But the truth is, she probably just made a straightforward calculation. She saw where the party was going, and she decided to go along with it.”
“In the end, Elise Stefanik surrendered her principles, her dignity, and even her voice to Donald Trump, and what did that get her? Enormous amounts of cash, the support of a passionate base of voters, the inside track to a powerful position in party leadership,” Noah concluded. “Was it worth it? Because it seems like it was kinda worth it.”
“I never thought I’d be pro-Cheney in any way, but it has happened,” said Jimmy Kimmel from Los Angeles. “She was removed basically for telling the truth.”
“I mean, you can’t have Republicans going around saying Biden won the election – people might get the right idea,” the host deadpanned. “I’m confused – I thought these guys hated cancel culture? Aren’t they the ones?”
“Why are Republicans so afraid of Donald Trump?” he added, noting that the president’s website reads like insult MadLibs. “They’re the ones giving him power by pulling stunts like this.”
“She’s used to this, her dad was a dick too. [Which] tells you all you need to know about the Republican party right now.”