When Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney exchanged a fist-bump with President Biden prior to his State of the Union address, I was horrified. I tweeted, “It’s the Marine in me (‘No better friend….’) & I mean no disrespect to the office, but I would not shake hands, fist bump, or elbow thump with @JoeBiden whose policies will devastate the people of Wyoming, where I was born & raised & for which I fought most of my working life.”
The next day, Rep. Cheney responded, “I disagree strongly w/@JoeBiden policies, but when the President reaches out to greet me in the chamber of the US House of Representatives, I will always respond in a civil, respectful & dignified way. We’re different political parties. We’re not sworn enemies. We’re Americans.”
I am all for being polite, but President Biden has been treating Wyoming in a most uncivil, disrespectful, and undignified way since signing a precedent-setting number of orders targeting Wyoming and its people, undoing the excellent work of President Trump, or adopting the most climate change-driven, woke and race-based federal policies in history. Had I been there, I would have kept my hands in my pockets but called out, “Howdy, Mr. President, you’re killing us in Wyoming. Please stop.”
I helped fight the “War on the West” waged by Carter, Clinton, and Obama. I did so in the Reagan administration. Then, for thirty years, I represented Wyomingites and others who were on the front lines of that battle in court. Finally, I was proud to work for President Trump who, even more than Reagan, ended that war and made the federal government a good neighbor to westerners. Nevertheless, I have never seen anything like what Biden is doing. It will only get worse for us.
Meanwhile, he is destroying our most fundamental constitutional liberties—which he says are not absolute—and attempting to remake our entire society by opening our border to millions, denying states their ability to control the ballot box, and packing the Supreme Court.
Wyoming needs all hands on deck. We need to devote 100 percent of our time, 100 percent of our energies, and 100 percent of the forums in which we engage to survive. There is no time for distractions, including matters that we might otherwise find of interest but have little to do with reversing what the Biden administration is trying to do to us. We have no time to war against one another, fellow Republicans, or a former president who served Wyoming so well.
Rep. Cheney says she strongly disagrees with President Biden’s policies, and I am sure she does; but she seems distracted. For one thing, much to my surprise, she is no longer on the Natural Resources Committee, where I served Republican members as a lawyer when it was the Interior & Insular Affairs Committee. In fact, as far as I know, the representative from Wyoming served on that Committee or its predecessor since statehood in 1890. Moreover, the federal government owns half of Wyoming, so that Committee’s work is vitally important.
Second, Rep. Cheney seems consumed with ensuring, as she puts it so often, that the Republican Party is not “the party of QAnon or anti-Semitism, or Holocaust-deniers, or white supremacy or conspiracy theories.” I do not know who she is talking about. I have been a Republican since the mid-1960s, worked for a senator and scores of representatives—mostly Republicans—and served under two Republican presidents, and I have not encountered people of that ilk. Nor have I encountered them in my three decades representing mostly rough and tumble clients from all walks of life. To the degree such folks exist and call themselves Republicans, I am guided by President Reagan’s response. “They might endorse me, but I don’t endorse them.” In fact, their support is proof “I persuaded them to accept my philosophy, not me accepting theirs.” I recommend this approach to all Republicans.
After fist-bumping Rep. Cheney, President Biden took the podium and called “white supremacy” the “most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland today.” I was not surprised, after all, Biden labels undefined “systemic racism” a “stain on our nation’s soul.” Moreover, it reminded me of when the Obama/Biden administration warned law enforcement agencies to watch out for veterans returning from war in Afghanistan and Iraq seeking to join “right-wing extremists.” I took it personal; my oldest Marine son had recently returned from Iraq.
I expect such hateful rhetoric from Biden who does not have the best interest of this country, Wyoming, or westerners at heart. It is hurtful, however, when Rep. Cheney seems to echo those attacks or those of Vice President Harris, Sen. Schumer, and Speaker Pelosi.
Now is not the time for division, distraction, or disaffection. We must unite to save the Republic.
Liz, please come home.
William Perry Pendley, a Wyoming attorney, led the Bureau of Land Management in the Trump administration. He is the author of Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle With Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today.