Liz Cheney: Are we ready for another political dynasty?

Liz Cheney – daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney – may be positioning herself to run for Congress from Wyoming, the state her father represented. Is America ready for another political dynasty?

Cliff Owen/ AP
Liz Cheney addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), in Washington, in 2010.

The Kennedys (Jack, Teddy and a bunch of others), the Bushes (George, George, and Jeb), the Pauls (Ron and Rand), the Clintons (Bill and Hillary). Is America – founded to put an end to hereditary monarchy – ready for another political dynasty?

Politico reports that Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president, may be following her father into Congress – or at least making speeches and otherwise positioning herself to make a run for office.

Before he moved to Washington as Secretary of Defense, White House chief of staff, and then VP under George W. Bush, Dick Cheney represented Wyoming in the House of Representatives, where he was reelected five times. (No, his most important role was not as Darth Vader, although he good-naturedly adopted the nickname.)

Like all good potential candidates for high office, Ms. Cheney demurs.

“Right now, I’m focused on the presidential campaign and getting Mitt Romney elected,” she told the Cody Enterprise newspaper in Wyoming, and she’s doing that in many venues – including groups that could be very helpful in a campaign.

Cheney told the recent meeting of the powerful Jewish lobby AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee), "There is no president who has done more to delegitimize and destabilize the state of Israel in recent history than President Obama."

Meanwhile, in speeches to Wyoming audiences, Cheney emphasizes the economy.

"The difference between how things work in D.C. and Wyoming is that your credit rating is Triple A and the federal government saw its credit rating decline under the current administration," she told the annual dinner of the Casper Area Chamber of Commerce.

"President Obama has showed no intent or ability to put structural changes into place" that will help control the national debt, she said, according to the Wyoming Business Report.

"He formed the national debt commission … the Simpson-Bowles group … and has ignored their recommendations," she said. "The solution to our problems is a new president." And a strengthened Republican caucus in the House and Senate, she might have added.

Last month, Cheney appeared with her father at the state GOP's convention. It was Dick Cheney's first public engagement since he underwent a heart transplant.

Early in the Obama administration, the two Cheneys tag-teamed the new president over Afghanistan, claiming that he had dithered, meandered, waffled, and “seems afraid.”

(That was before Obama ramped up the number of US troops there, launched hundreds of drone attacks, and took out Osama bin Laden.)

On “Keep America Safe” (the organization she founded), as a Fox News contributor, and elsewhere, she continues to hammer Obama on national security issues, claiming for example that there is “no terrorist Obama is unwilling to release.”

All of which sounds like building a case for one’s candidacy – and a possible antidote to the GOP’s alleged “war on women.”

Is the former Veep urging his daughter to follow in his congressional footsteps? Hard to know, although one can imagine fatherly pride at the notion – and a desire to pass along the benefit of his political experience and wisdom.

"My dad always keeps track of my travels and media performances and gives me advice on how to do better or how to address an issue differently," Ms. Cheney told the Chamber of Commerce group in Casper.

Running for Congress as the child of a former member would not be unheard of or all that unusual.

“For a nation forged by revolution against a hereditary monarchy, America has always had an unusual tolerance for – or even embrace of – political dynasty,” notes Charles Mahtesian, Politico’s national politics editor.

“In his book America's Political Dynasties, scholar Stephen Hess counted some 700 families in which two or more members had served in Congress since 1774 – and that book was published nearly a half-century ago, in 1966,” he writes. “At the moment, there's somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 members of Congress whose parents also served in Congress, or have a sibling or cousin in Congress, or who succeeded to their husband's seat. And there's more waiting in the wings: Seven sons of congressmen are currently seeking election to the House.”

And perhaps a daughter as well.

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