Whatever the reasons Liz Cheney withdrew from the Republican Senate primary in Wyoming — she attributes the decision to a “serious health issue” in her family — the fact remains that her candidacy never caught fire. And that's a good thing, not only for what it says about Wyoming but also the national Republican Party.
On a more parochial level, her withdrawal signals a skepticism among voters of Cheney's brash and divisive style, which she promised to bring to the Senate. If you thought Congress could use more partisanship, she was just the candidate for you.
Indeed, a difference in style was Cheney's main selling point, since incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi boasts a conservative voting record not much different from what Cheney's would have been.
Cheny represented more than aggressive partisanship, though. As the National Journal's Josh Kraushaar wrote Monday, “Cheney found that her calling card in public life as a spokesperson for a muscular, hawkish foreign policy just wasn't playing politically — even in a Republican primary in a deeply conservative state.”
If you seek to understand why that foreign policy is not playing politically, look no further than recent headlines from Iraq. Last week, Fallujah — just 40 miles from Baghdad — was overrun by al-Qaeda forces, as was most of Ramadi, a provincial capital.
If Fallujah sounds familiar, it should. It was in Fallujah in 2004 that Marines fought some of the most difficult battles of the Iraq war against al-Qaeda insurgents. And yet, nearly a decade later, radical insurgents are back in charge.
No wonder Americans have wearied of a “muscular” policy in the Middle East. And no wonder public opinion and congressional resistance forced President Obama to back away from plans for military action in Syria.
A vigorous anti-terrorist policy was obviously justified after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But the interventionist policies those attacks inspired produced ambiguous gains at best for the U.S. Most Americans simply have no desire for another round of meddling.