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May 30, 2023 07:50 AM MDT

A Few Words Of Qualified Sympathy For Liz Cheney

  • by: Colorado Pols
Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R).

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s O’Dell Isaac reports from Colorado College’s commencement ceremony Sunday, where commencement speaker former GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming was met with a protest by a large percentage of graduating students who turned their backs to Cheney during her address:

When Cheney was introduced — mostly to applause — about half the graduates turned their chairs 180 degrees and sat with their backs to the former Wyoming congresswoman for the entirety of her speech…

After Cheney’s speech, the graduates returned their chairs to their original positions and applauded as honorary degrees were granted to former acting co-President Mike Edmonds, retiring administrator Robert Moore, and mathematician and historian Robin Wilson. Hilaree Janet Nelson, a CC graduate who died skiing in the Himalayas in September, was posthumously honored.

Graduates who turned their backs to Cheney said they did so because of her conservative positions on abortion, LGBTQ+ issues and voting rights.

The first thing to clarify about this incident is that by all accounts the students who protested were not MAGA Republicans upset with Rep. Cheney’s opposition to former President Donald Trump. Cheney’s turn against Trump after the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol endeared Cheney despite her staunch conservative record with many Democrats as well as plenty of “Never Trump” Republicans who were initially horrified enough by January 6th to condemn Trump publicly. Unfortunately for Cheney, Trump immediately began to reconsolidate his support in the GOP after leaving office, and within just weeks Cheney had gone from a trusted member of House GOP leadership to a political dead person walking.

“After the 2020 election, and the attack of Jan. 6, my fellow Republicans wanted me to lie,” Cheney said. “They wanted me to say that the 2020 election was stolen, that the attack of Jan. 6 wasn’t a big deal, and that Donald Trump wasn’t dangerous. I had to choose between lying and losing my position in House leadership.”

Cheney’s stand against Trump has ensured that history will judge her better than either the MAGA dead-enders or liberal college students who can’t see past their policy disagreements with Cheney to recognize her commitment to protecting American democracy at the most essential level. At the end of the day, we can’t have political debates about any of the issues that divide us without a functioning democratic process to ensure representatives are fairly and deservedly elected.

If no common ground is possible on any other issue, protecting democracy is enough to count.


11 thoughts on “A Few Words Of Qualified Sympathy For Liz Cheney

  1. IIRC Liz Cheney has mellowed on marriage equality like the rest of the Cheneys, so there's that.

    It's sad she was treated poorly by the CC grads. They should have more perspective.

    1. I agree.  Perspective, however, is not often a function of one attaining a degree, but of years.

      My wizened self might not have participated in that protest (but I can’t honestly say that with 100% certainty).  My college-aged self likely would have.

      Cheney has stood for truth against political expediency — sometimes.  She’s also stood against truth for political expediency, such as not acknowledging human worth and rights outside of her filter of preferred religious/political dogma — at others.

      1. I wasn’t politically active back then, and my massive school’s graduation is a blur of hangover and some fuzzy speaker off in the distance.  So, it’s moot.

        But if I was a reasonably politically-aware graduate in this day and age, at a fairly liberal and LGBTQ- friendly school that is situated in the heart of Colorado conservatism – still reeling from an anti-LGBTQ mass shooting – I would pause to wonder what sort of point the CC administration was trying to make with that choice of a notoriously conservative and (at least previously) famously anti-gay speaker.

        When people get upset with student protests against speakers, many tend to skip over asking what the administration’s motivations were?  They are not blameless here. It is reasonable to wonder if the CC brass were taking a stance somewhere between being at least deliberately provocative, if not possibly trolling their own students.  Or generously: pretty darn tone deaf.

        And either way, the choice of Cheney to speak begs the question of: who’s commencement is it?

        In any case, the students didn’t draw first blood.  The university made its choice to be controversial, and the students made their choice to respond.

  2. She should not have been booed.

    Liz Cheney's position on LGBT issues has evolved – not unlike other politicians. Although in Liz's case, the evolution was not a 180-degree change but a 360-degree change.

    Liz, like her parents, was pro-same sex marriage even before G.W. Bush and Turd Blossom Rover discovered the power of gay marriage to excite the base in 2004. She came out against it when she ran her awful campaign for the Wyoming Senate seat earning the enmity of her sister and her sister-in-law before her candidacy imploded and she dropped out of the race for personal reasons.

    After winning her House seat, she towed the party line on same sex marriage and remained estranged from her sister. But after 1/6 and her break with the MAGA Republicans, she made the break complete by supporting the ROMA.

    After you've burned your bridges to the Kingdom of the Nut Jobs, it doesn't cost much to do the right thing. No word on whether the Cheney sisters have completely reconciled.

    1. I don’t see an indication that she was booed? The protest sounds as though it wasn’t intended to be, and wasn’t, disruptive?

  3. I think L Cheney could win the republican prez nomination if sfb and mini-sfb end up doing bad.  The big orange sfb could be in deep legal trouble and mini-sfb is just a d-word.

    Liz needs to gather at least a 30 of the former republican voters and I think the rest of the herd just fail to thrive.  Most of the volunteer candidates just want the income and enough publicity to sell a book.

    If she did not have the anti-LGBTQ, anti-women's health care and some other of the gqp baggage she could probably come close in the Dem vote.  (okay just kidding)

  4. I don't recall what dignitary spoke at my high school graduation, and I was cheerful in avoiding such ceremonies for my university and advanced degrees.  So I got next to nothing to say about those who DO show up for their ceremony.

    If they want to peaceably protest the speaker for prior positions, turning chairs around seems pretty tame.  No boycott, no loud chanting, no thrown shoes, no chairs picked up and thrown about. 

    It is one thing to laud someone willing to do the right thing in one circumstance even at the cost of a professional political career.  But that one move does not eliminate criticism of many other efforts. 


  5. Besides her public refusal to endorse Trump’s election denialism, just about everything else about her is the usual Republican horror show.  If she’s softened her stance on LGBTQ, that’s great. But she’s still got a ways to go to make amends.

    In any case, this choice of commencement speakers make me wonder who the administration think the event is about.

    At this moment in time, choosing a conservative member of the Cheney family who has been outspokenly anti-gay to speak at the commencement of a comparatively liberal school (one trying to get by in a highly conservative community, and still reeling from the hate crime mass shooting at a LGBTQ club), seems particularly tone deaf.

    Cheney’s sole redeeming quality in this context is her refusal to go along with her party’s coup.  Her main disqualifying qualities are extensive in this context.

    Less than a year since the mass shooting, and in the midst of a political war being waged against liberal education by conservatives, I’d like to know who in the administration thought this was a good year to invite an anti gay outspoken conservative?

    Who is this event for?  What would you have the students do to express their unhappiness with that choice?

  6. The speaker is for the parents (aka checkbooks). The students’ protest was silent and not disruptive. I would be curious to know if Liz Cheney was offended. I suspect she would take the high road.

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