Exit Cheney, Far, Far Right, Ctd

Now that Liz has dropped her primary challenge against Wyoming senator Mike Enzi, citing a family member with health problems, Margaret Carlson hopes she’ll spend her free time mending fences with her sister:

Cheney’s ill-timed race hurt more than her career. Unless she’s made of stone, she has a deeper loss — her relationship with her sister, Mary, a lesbian, who took umbrage at her older sister’s opposition to gay marriage. Every election has one winner and at least one loser, but this one has a family that lost its privacy and comity. When her father, Dick Cheney, weighed in, he took sides, supporting the sister who was running and dissing the other one. Dad clarified that Liz felt sorry for Mary. Although Liz had “compassion” for Mary, he said, that shouldn’t be mistaken for approval. … If Liz has a sick family member, she has everyone’s compassion. This must have been a tough holiday season for the Cheneys; the sisters didn’t spend them together. Now the Cheneys have a year to get it right before the next one.

Suderman paints her as a failed foreign policy hawk:

Cheney dropped out because she had no chance. And she had no chance in part because of the declining influence of the Republican Party’s most hawkish members.

Her run was, as much as anything, intended as a way to make some noise about the foreign policy issues that party hawks thought were getting lost in the shuffle, and to serve as an opposing voice to what is easiest to describe as the Rand Paul wing of the GOP, which is more worried about civil liberties and less interested in overseas adventurism or maximizing defense-sector spending. That Cheney’s campaign gives a sense of the electoral landscape within the GOP. It’s hard out there for a hawk.

Or perhaps, per Mark Joseph Stern, a failed anti-gay candidate:

The takeaway here is not necessarily that the era of anti-gay politicking is entirely over; as Windsor reaches into the states, conservative legislators will undoubtedly continue to score support by stoking homophobic animus. Instead, the undignified collapse of Cheney’s campaign suggests that, in 2014, a candidate cannot simply demonstrate hatred of gay people to pull in conservative votes. Aside from illustrating the depths of her bigotry by betraying her own sister, Cheney presented few coherent policies on the campaign trail. By dint of publicity—publicity she practically demanded—she became known as a hardline anti-gay candidate. And that did absolutely nothing to narrow her humiliatingly low popularity, to boost her fundraising, or to garner conservative support.

Larison thinks the answer is simpler:

Even if she had tried to attack Enzi on foreign policy grounds, there are so few differences between them on these issues that there would be nothing for her to say. The main and fatal weakness of her campaign was that it had no reason to exist: the incumbent she was challenging was popular, he had a reliably conservative voting record, he wasn’t tainted by any scandal, and her only qualification for public office was that she had held a position in the Bush administration with responsibility for the region that saw its greatest errors and failures. If Cheney’s failed campaign has any significance beyond its implications for her own career, it demonstrates that Republican primaries can’t be won on a platform of nothing more than increased combativeness for its own sake.

Alex Altman says there are few tea leaves to read here:

What does her failed campaign tell us about the political landscape in 2014? Not much. Nearly all of the Republican primary scuffles this cycle feature a Establishment-type incumbent trying to fend off a Tea-infused upstart. Cheney’s challenge to Republican Mike Enzi didn’t fit that format. The Tea Party was not a factor. Both are Establishment figures. Neither are squishy moderates by any means. The race drew national attention (and national money) because of Cheney’s name and network, but on the ground it was very much a local affair, flavored by issues like coal.

If there is a lesson to draw from the race, it may be that the Republican grandees with targets painted on their backs this year may be tougher to take out than people think. Pundits will snark about the colossal failure of Cheney’s campaign, but up close she was a strong candidate: smart, polished, and informed. But Enzi had few vulnerabilities. During three terms in the Senate, he’s compiled a deeply conservative voting record. He’s widely praised for constituent service back home. And his low-key, avuncular style plays well with the sparse and spacious frontier state he represents.