Last week, Liz Cheney berated the President of the United States for publicly honoring the war dead. The scathing rebukes, most notably Lawrence O'Donnell, were well-deserved.
Most were also misguided.
To be sure, the facts and perspective they presented were important. After all, Ms. Cheney's egregious contentions were disingenuous lies, and to even think that the American President shouldn't honor the war dead in public is shameless. It is suggesting that the commander-in-chief should only salute the war dead from past wars, not those newly-arrived back to our shores. A nation is comforted when it is allowed to honor with the president those who fell defending it. It understands more deeply what the national sacrifice is.
Moreover, had it been George Bush at Dover Air Force Base, Elizabeth Cheney would be exalting him as America's Greatest Patriot.
And none of this includes her lie that George Bush did such a thing at Dover. Even privately. Nor did her father. The two architects of the lie that caused those deaths. Her own lie that Mr. Bush did is self-serving deceit.
All such comments about Ms. Cheney's dishonesty -- and her many previous lies -- have all been highly merited. What is misguided, though is something else.
Why in the world are we putting Liz Cheney on television??
Responding to lies is one thing. But to give such a nonentity face time? Even sportscasts have stopped showing the loon who runs onto the field, realizing that getting on TV only encourages the next one.
When Lawrence O'Donnell gave his blistering commentary, for example, it was preceded by lengthy footage of Ms. Cheney spreading her vitriolic lies. This was completely unnecessary. One can simply have quoted the most egregious untruths and made the same response. But to put her on the air serves to provide Liz Cheney with a platform for her otherwise non-existent credibility.
Liz Cheney?? Who in the world is Liz Cheney to warrant ANY air time?!
Any, as in "any."
Liz Cheney has two credentials. She is the daughter of the former vice-president. And she had a job in the State Department.
For the first, merely being someone's child does not magically give one political expertise. Heredity doesn't work that way. You are qualified to defend your family. ("My father never remembers outing a CIA agent"). But jeepers, if you're going to give that child national airtime to analyze U.S. policy solely because of her dad, at least you'd hope that that father was someone the public didn't abhor with a nine-percent approval.
And as for her having worked in the State Department -- so have hundreds and hundreds of thousands. So -- why her?? (See, "A" above.)
But let's be fair. What did Liz Cheney do? She oversaw a low-level unit. That was one of eight bureaus that reported to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. Who was one of six Under Secretaries. There are 28 such bureaus in the State Department. It was on the same bureaucratic level as the Verification, Compliance and Implementation division. Seen the head of that group on TV any time recently? Me neither.
But it gets worse. When Ms. Cheney's group was reported to be studying how war could be covertly escalated in Syria and Iran, it was disbanded. Yes, that's right, the creepy division was so unimportant it doesn't even exist any more.
Liz Cheney?? This is who TV is giving air time to? We can aspire to more.
Time and time again, Elizabeth Cheney is given air time to scare, repeatedly lie ("For the first time ever..." she prevaricated recently, we have "a president who seems so reluctant to defend the nation overseas") and to desperately try to polish the scorched name of her disgraced father.
Back in July, after the then-latest of Ms. Cheney's smears, supporting Obama birthers, David Schuster on MSNBC asked the Boston Globe's Charles Pierce if Liz Cheney could be trusted on anything, given her track record of not "acknowledging the facts"? Pierce's response, however, went straight to the real issue at hand --
"I don't know. I'm not the one who books her. I mean, it's the folks on shows like this that book her... I don't know that she's a leader of any kind. What I would tell you is she's a prominent Republican because she's been made a prominent Republican on TV."
Several years ago, Oprah Winfrey had a White Supremacist as a guest, sure his hate speech would discredit himself. And while it did for most, Ms. Winfrey later said that when she saw a couple people nodding in the audience, she realized she was giving a platform to hate that only served to support their legitimacy. She refused to do so again.
The media should deal with Liz Cheney, whatever she has to say. But that doesn't mean she has to be given air time herself. She is not prominent. She has no base. She represents no one. She's a disembodied voice that gives false comfort to the fringes. But when the media gives her free air time, they only serve to shore up support for her and risk creating such a base.
It might make for swell TV. But it makes for a lousy country.
Follow Robert J. Elisberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RobertElisberg