Commentary: End the Cheney-Stefanik saga

In reality, it’s hard to say Stefanik isn’t left of most Republicans on policy.

Left: U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik. Right: U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

Republicans will undoubtedly replace Rep. Liz Cheney in House leadership Wednesday. If this helps unite the party or ends ongoing internecine battles, so be it.

As most know, Cheney is unwilling to go along with former President Donald Trump’s dubious and discredited claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him. I won’t weigh in on the merits or rebuttals, other than to say that while it’s the wrong move, Cheney’s message is at odds with a majority of the House Republican Conference, which prefers to fundraise off Trump’s most ardent supporters.

The former president supports Rep. Elise Stefanik, who backed efforts to overturn the results of his election. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Sunday he’s also behind Stefanik, who plans to somehow unify the House GOP.

In a January floor speech, the 36-year-old New Yorker claimed widespread fraud last November in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Left-leaning critics believe she’s gone from “Moderate to MAGA.”

In reality, it’s hard to say Stefanik isn’t left of most Republicans on policy.

While Cheney holds a lifetime 80% score from Heritage Action, the conservative advocacy organization, Stefanik sits at 48%, one of the lowest among Republicans.

Meanwhile, Cheney voted 93% of the time with Trump’s position during his term; Stefanik did so 78% of the time.

With a staunch conservative voting record, Cheney, who delivered a remarkable speech Tuesday night, clearly is not a “RINO” on policy.

Cheney is considered hawkish, but Stefanik — who represents a massive district that encompasses Fort Drum — also disagreed with Trump’s proposed 2019 withdrawal from Syria.

Stefanik voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

She co-sponsored a pathway for amnesty.

She voted against funding the border wall and against an emergency declaration to fund it.

She voted to oppose Trump’s lawsuit to fight Obamacare.

She voted for the radical “Equality Act” that punishes religious organizations.

She voted with Democrats to stay in the Paris Climate Accord, which unfairly holds America to stricter standards than the world’s worst polluters, while crushing our economy. The congresswoman then voted to ban drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Yet again, it appears a group of people sold the president on a candidate who he would not support if he had known her record. This is not the record of someone who should coordinate a united message for the House Republican Conference,” conservative commentator Erick Erickson opined last week.

I prefer Rep. Jim Banks, the 40-year-old U.S. Navy veteran from Indiana, for conference chair. He was on Fox News Sunday and told Chris Wallace that “the focus about Cheney and Jan. 6 and Donald Trump distract us from what we have to do to save this country, to win back the majority in the midterm election. That’s what I’m focused on. So that’s why a change in Republican leadership at this level is necessary.”

A recent poll showed Trump’s national approval at 32%, with 44% of Republicans saying they’re more supportive of him than the party; however, over 50% said they’re more supportive of the GOP than the former president. That’s the first time the latter number has risen above 50. Polls also show Trump continues to be a drag in core battleground districts.

Whether or not it’s Cheney preventing Republicans from moving on, or Trump — with his press releases and recent statements from Mar-a-Lago — is immaterial. Some say she’s heroic and brave; Trump sycophants stick to their talking points.

But as mainstream media has a field day — oddly fawning over the right-leaning daughter of a man they’ve long deemed evil — instead of acknowledging the Biden administration’s failures, let’s end the circular firing squad. It’s not good for the future of the party or country.