Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and I have much in common. We’re the same age. We grew up in McLean, Virginia with fathers in public service. Our dads were known to be tough, uncompromising Cold Warriors who also knew how to occasionally throw sharp elbows around the West Wing. Most importantly, they were both great dads.
But as much as we have in common, there's more that divides us.
Liz grew up as an uncompromising conservative, and I was raised to be an unrepentant liberal. She supported the Iraq War just as strenuously as I opposed it. And in a bad moment in my TV career, I laughed on air at a David Letterman joke made at the expense of her ailing father.
Liz wrote me a really tough letter after that — and rightly rebuked me. And when I say it was a tough letter, let me just say it was Cheney tough. She did not mince words. Even when I called to apologize, she did not let me off the hook. Not even a bit. While I had little use for her politics and had never really been able to find a way to connect with her personally, I was impressed by a daughter’s fierce defense of her father. Watching my own father (a former national security advisor under Jimmy Carter) attacked over the decades made me appreciate that letter even more.
Liz’s uncompromising resilience and principled strength were on display once again this week. She was booted from her GOP leadership spot for refusing to go along with her reprobate and deceitful Republican colleagues, who continue to lay prostrate before former President Donald Trump and bleat that the election was stolen from him. Liz's message was strong and clear: I will tell the truth, do what is right, and defend democracy, no matter the personal cost. As Joe and I watched her eloquent defense of American democracy, neither of us were surprised by her iron will.
On “Morning Joe,” we recently interviewed the authors of “DBT for Dummies.” It’s a best-selling book about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which teaches a mindful approach to relationships and acceptance. It teaches that two opposing views can be true at the same time. It made me think of Liz.
There is a lesson here that we should all try to employ as we deal with the difficulties in Washington. We can disagree with each other's political beliefs, while at the same time respecting the intellectual and ideological coherence underpinning our opponents’ actions and principles. In other words, we can support Liz for her strong stance and remarkable “truth to power” speech while simultaneously disagreeing with her on foreign policy, abortion, and any number of other issues.
In a partnership with Forbes, Know Your Value has been celebrating women over the age of 50 who have achieved great success after the age of 50, 60, 70 and beyond. The official list will be revealed in Forbes Magazine on June 2. But as we gear up for it, I can’t help but to think that at age 54, Liz’s biggest accomplishments are ahead of her, rather than in the rear-view mirror.
There are vanishingly few political issues on which Liz and I agree. I’d guess she feels the same way. But after the past week, she has my absolute respect. And she always will.