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"Oath and Honor" | Reviewed by Bill Schwab

“Oath and Honor” is Liz Cheney’s detailed account of the connection between the 2020 U.S. presidential election and the January 6th storming of the Capitol. Her memoir is a comprehensive account of these two chaotic events. It includes a call to all Americans to hold their elected officials accountable for exercising their constitutional duty to protect U.S. democracy.

Cheney’s analysis of the threat to the nation is insightful, credible, and alarming.

Cheney characterizes Donald Trump as a president who violated his oath to gain personal power. She maintains democracy depends on elected officials putting constitutional responsibilities above party allegiance. The author provides examples of how the U.S. democracy has deteriorated since the 2020 election.

Her depiction of the perilous events of January 6th is jarring. She describes in detail the breaching of the Capitol and the quick evacuation of members of the House of Representatives. She lauds the members’ resolve to reassemble to complete their agenda and assure citizens that democracy was still functioning. Highlighting the gravity of the event, she mentions the immediate resignations of White House staff members as some administration associates wanted to distance themselves from President Trump quickly.

The account of the Congressional Select Committee, as it planned and executed the hearings, describes the investigators’ many attempts to get to the truth regardless of possible political consequences. Cheney targets several of her Republican colleagues for cowering to President Trump and defending him and the rioters. She mainly aims at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whom she describes as “craven” and “unprincipled.” “Kevin McCarthy lacked the courage and the honor to abide by his oath to the Constitution,” she writes.

There are surprises in the book, including Cheney’s strong bond with two Democratic women, Nancy Pelosi and Zoe Lofgren, both representatives from California. Cheney describes Lofgren as “thoughtful and serious” with “zero ego.” Regarding Pelosi, she writes, “Every time I went to her with a concern, a proposed approach, or request that she intervene with Democrats... she backed me up.” As a result, “a relationship that had been unimaginable just a few months earlier would now become indispensable.”

I appreciate Cheney’s assessment of these critical events in our nation and admire her courage to speak out against her Congressional colleagues who waffled on their constitutional duties during the January 6th crisis and investigation. What I find missing in the memoir is any self-reflection on her former political views. Cheney makes no mention that she voted with President Trump 93% of the time. Also lacking is any reporting on why she changed her position on several inflammatory issues like same-sex marriage or any admission that her party had a hand in creating Trumpism. Still, Cheney’s book is a helpful resource as the U.S. wrestles with the ramifications of the January 6th incident and the decisions necessary to move the nation forward.

About the author: Cheney represented Wyoming in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2017 to 2023 and was chair of the House Republican Conference from 2019 to 2021. In 2022, she received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, with a commendation for her “consistent and courageous voice in defense of democracy.”


 

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