THE PLANK OCTOBER 13, 2009
When I read today's Politico piece about Liz Cheney's new "Keep America Safe," a foreign-policy focused group aimed at saving this nation from the "radical" Obama White House, two things immediately sprang to mind:
1. With every passing week, Bill Kristol sounds more like an overcaffeinated Ann Coulter: "The Left has dozens of organizations and tens of millions of dollars dedicated to undercutting the war on terror. The good guys needs some help too." What an appalling jackass.
2. I hope the libs, moderates, and journalists who find themselves face-to-face with Liz in the coming months won't be tempted to let her off easy just because she's a sweet looking blonde chick out there defending dear ol' dad.
My concern about Liz may sound absurd, seeing as how we're talking about the hyperhawkish offspring of one of the most reviled figures in contemporary American politics. But I was alerted to this possibility several months back while watching a Liz appearance on "Morning Joe," in which she ran through her usual song and dance about what a caring, devoted patriot her daddy is. For the entire segment (and it was a long one), Mike Barnicle (standing in for Joe Scarborough in studio), Mika Brzezinski, and Scarborough himself (phoning in) fawned shamelessly over Liz, asking her oh-so-probing questions about how Daddy, with his obviously great and abiding love for this country, must feel about this, that, and the other. Then, following a spirited debate between Liz and WaPo columnist Gene Robinson, Barnicle bid Liz adieu by gushing: "I'll tell you one thing. Your father's gotta be proud of you!" To which Liz gave a cute little head bob, smiled demurely, and offered shy "thank yous" as Brzezinski perkily chimed in: "I would say so!"
Yes, I realize Barnicle is Barnicle and Scarborough is MSNBC's token conservative. That said, everyone involved in political combat is well aware of the different rules that still apply to most female combatants--much less baby-faced blonde ones fighting for an aging, ailing daddy's honor. Men in particular must take care not to come across as bullying their fairer opponents. It's a dilemma that applies even with women who are polarizing and tough-as-nails (as Rick Lazio can attest), as well as those with a rep as dishonest or slightly bonkers. (Of late, I've heard concerns from men who've gone up against health-care fabulist Betsy McCaughey that the audience saw them as brutalizing her.)
Liz Cheney is a particularly dangerous combination of sweet-as-sugar looks and savage instincts. Going at her as roughly and directly as she does her opponents could backfire. But cutting her any slack--or sitting by as media types coo, gurgle, and make patronizing goo-goo eyes at her--is a good way to wind up stuck in the undercarriage of her SUV.
Those who disagree with Liz's political vision would do well to start figuring out the right blend of non-brutish ruthlessness to deal with her. Because the most disturbing thing about Dick's little girl is the overwhelming sense that she is just getting warmed up.