The Ranger (beta)

Fremont County's Daily Newspaper

News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.

Ranger Login

Cheney not yet ready for Wyoming

Jan 10, 2014 - By Chris Peck

No, Liz Cheney won't be a U.S. Senator from Wyoming.

At least not for now.

She announced a few days ago that she was dropping her challenge to Republican Sen. Mike Enzi.

That's a good thing for the state. A good for the national Republican Party. And probably good for Liz Cheney's political career.

Here's why.

Liz Cheney, is smart, informed, and well-educated. She could be a U.S. Senator. Or a governor. Or a congresswoman.

But she hasn't earned her shot just yet.

And if you don't earn it, if you feel you are entitled, or if you are averse to doing the hands-on work that gets you in tune with the job of being a Wyoming senator, well, it's best for everybody that you shouldn't pursue that line of work.

Earning it means doing hard, boring stuff, close to the ground.

Liz Cheney wasn't close to the ground.

She had high-altitude political credentials mostly because of her family and her last name.

That's great for speaking tours, and a patronage job in government that requires lots of cocktail parties, and for appearances on FOX News.

Liz Cheney could claim all that.

She wasn't a novice. But she wasn't Wyoming.

How could she be?

She graduated from high school in Mclean, Va. She married a Washington, D.C., lawyer. Her dad helped her get her first jobs in U.S. embassies in Budapest and Warsaw.

Contrast this with Liz's father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

He did earn it.

He grew up in Wyoming. He graduated from Natrona County High School in Casper. He earned a degree at the University of Wyoming, after flunking out of Yale.

When he first ran for Congress back in 1978, Dick Cheney drove his own car from town to town, walking into mom-and-pop cafes and small-town newspaper offices, with no entourage, no jet, to introduce himself.

Then he spent 10 years as Wyoming's lone congressman. He attended the One-Shot Antelope hunts in Lander. He knew about 20 degrees below zero.

Yeah, he went on to bigger things -- like becoming the most powerful vice president in history.

But he had his Wyoming cred. He built that first.

Liz Cheney didn't.

When she tried to establish Wyoming roots by talking about four generations of Wyoming relatives -- and knocking Mike Enzi for not being conservative enough -- it rang hollow. It seemed small. And calculated.

Mike Enzi not conservative enough? The three-term senator that the American Conservative Union rates as voting conservative 92 percent of the time?

Really it wasn't ever about who could out-conservative the other when it came to Liz Cheney.

It was about who could, and would, and did, have Wyoming roots, Wyoming bones, Wyoming veins.

Mike Enzi has eaten chicken dinners and attended fairs, funerals and fundraisers in every wide spot in the road from Tensleep to Big Piney.

That wasn't Liz Cheney.

She can get there.

But it will take more long-distance driving at night, dodging the antelope, and making herself known for something other than being Dick Cheney's privileged D.C. daughter.

Related content: