Like I said, it was brief. Cheney was one of at least 20 people — and that is a low-end estimate — whom Biden fist-bumped or elbow-bumped on his way to the podium. (The two also appeared to exchange some sort of pleasantry that was inaudible, at least to me.)
Despite all of that, as soon as I saw it happen, all I could think to myself was: Donald Trump (and his acolytes) are going to have a field day with this.
Here’s why: We are a visual people. Which means videos have power in our society. And the video of Biden fist-bumping Cheney is going to be used by every Trumpist who wants Cheney to lose her seat next year as evidence that she is a Republican In Name Only (RINO) and a sellout of conservative principles.
But Cheney has become the No. 1 target of the former president because she had the audacity to vote for his impeachment following his incitement of a riot that led to an armed insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6.
Which, honestly, I’m not sure she’s right about. While she clearly cast her impeachment vote out of principle, the current default stance of the Republican Party base is that anyone who doesn’t support Trump on literally everything is not a “real” Republican.
The former President is doing his darndest to enforce that total fealty, seeking to punish those who, like Cheney, stray.
“Liz Cheney is polling sooo low in Wyoming, and has sooo little support, even from the Wyoming Republican Party, that she is looking for a way out of her Congressional race,” said Trump in a statement released Tuesday. “Based on all polling, there is no way she can win.” (Sidebar: Yes, he really wrote “sooo,” not once but twice.)
And in raw political terms, Cheney — unwittingly — handed the forces aligned to oust her for refusing to march in step with Trump a gift on Wednesday night. While it should not be a bad thing for a GOP leader and a Democratic president to exchange a word and a fist bump, Trump’s cult of personality masquerading as a political party will use that moment to illustrate everything they think is wrong with Cheney.
I rest my case.