"No one with the last name Cheney should even be speaking": Rand Paul slams fellow Republicans

Sen. Rand Paul just took a swing at Rep. Liz Cheney

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published August 17, 2021 2:29PM (EDT)

Rand Paul (R-KY) and Liz Cheney (R-WY) (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Rand Paul (R-KY) and Liz Cheney (R-WY) (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Following the Taliban's swift takeover of Afghanistan this past weekend, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took a swing at Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., on Monday, saying that "no one with the last name Cheney should even be speaking publicly right now." 

Paul's comments come largely in response to Cheney's recent criticism of the Trump and Biden administrations' failure to prevent the Taliban's rise to power. 

"The Trump/Biden calamity unfolding in Afghanistan began with the Trump administration negotiating with terrorists and pretending they were partners for peace, and is ending with American surrender as Biden abandons the country to our terrorist enemies," Cheney tweeted on Sunday, laying the blame at both presidents. 

On Monday, the estranged Republican doubled down on her rhetoric, tearing into Trump's secretary of state Mike Pompeo on "The Brian Kilmeade Show."

"The fact that Mike Pompeo was the first Secretary of State to meet with the Taliban, the fact that they were considering inviting the Taliban to Camp David on 9/11 -- that set this all in motion," she argued. "Any deal that the United States would contemplate entering into with the Taliban should be made public in its entirety. I've expressed my serious concerns about the lack of verification mechanism, about the commitment and the agreement that we would go to zero and primarily about the fact that what we have here are a number of promises by the Taliban."

Cheney was qucikly castigated online for omitting the fact that her very own father Dick Cheney, President George Bush's vice president, played a leading role in starting the war.

Chief among Cheney's critics was Sen. Paul, a years-long critic of the American military force in Afghanistan. Paul joined the chorus of condemnation by echoing the words of his own father, setting up something of a Cheney-Paul family feud. 

Back in 2011, Paul's father, former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tx., openly supported legislation that would have mandated a military withdrawal. 

"The question we're facing today is should we leave Afghanistan? I think the answer is very clear and it's not complicated, that of course we should. As soon as we can," the elder Paul said at the time. "This suggests that we can leave by the end of the year. If we don't, we'll be there for another decade would be my prediction."

On Tuesday, the younger Paul emphasized the lasting wisdom of his father's objections to the war. 

"It was my father, often alone in his party, who said for decades that the neocons' endless wars would always come back to haunt us," Paul wrote on his website Liberty Tree. "If the neoconservatives and others at the time had listened to Ron Paul back then, the tragedy in Afghanistan would not have been prolonged. Most importantly, it would have saved thousands of American lives and also money that we don't actually have."

Paul also critiqued the rhetoric employed by the war's most ardent supporters after the Taliban takeover. "Now the same people who still defend the Iraq War and who also wanted to stay in Afghanistan forever are some of the loudest voices criticizing the Taliban retaking control of that country." 

"What's clear today is that no one with the last name Cheney should even be speaking publicly right now. This [sic] origin of this debacle lies at their feet," he added.

Paul's op-ed comes amid an unprecedented political upheaval in Afghanistan, with thousands fleeing the country ahead of the Taliban's rule. President Biden has so far offered $500 million aid to support refugees and those "at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan," according to The Washington Post. Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor recently told reporters that the U.S. will begin coordinating air evacuations of 5,000 to 9,000 Afghans per day.

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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9/11 Afghanistan Brief Rand Paul Ron Paul Taliban War Withdrawal