Some of the old establishment Republicans are very, very angry with Senator Ted Cruz for what he did last week. In case you have not been following this story (and it's not quite as much fun as the Christie mystery, Bridgegate), it was about the debt ceiling.
We all remember the debacle last December when the Congress shut down the government and held the debt-ceiling hostage to protest Obamacase and Ted Cruz held a faux filibuster during which he read Green Eggs and Ham. The shutdown of the government was blamed correctly, for once, on the idiocy and intransigence of the Republicans and the already very low floor of their popularity sank even further.
Well, last week the debt ceiling was up for a vote again. And again Cruz decided to throw a spanner in the works, by forcing Republicans to support it.
You can find this quote in Jed Lewison's diary (bolding below mine):
“In the 13 months I’ve been in the Senate it has become apparent to me the single thing that Republican politicians hate and fear the most, and that is when they’re forced to tell the truth. It makes their heads explode,” Cruz told radio host Mark Levin Thursday. [...] “A lot of the Republicans wanted exactly what Barack Obama wanted, exactly what Nancy Pelosi wanted, exactly what Harry Reid wanted, which is to raise the debt ceiling, but they wanted to be able to tell what they view as their foolish, gullible constituents back home they didn’t do it.”When Cruz forced a 60 vote minimum on the debt ceiling raise, he created all sort of havoc in the Republican party. McConnell had to scramble to find five more votes. He turned to the ladies, such as Collins and Murkowski - and for once the women balked. They refused to be the only ones carrying the votes across. So McConnell was also forced to vote for the raise, and he got others to do it too, but in a way that was rather amusing. To make sure that no single Republican carried the responsibility for the passage of the bill, several voted simultaneously. They also made sure that they got to 67 rather than just to 60, so it was not a squeaker.
They were too cowardly, however, to speak their votes aloud, and if you want more on this - it's one of the most amusing segments ever - watch the February 14 Rachel Maddow segment titled "Fearful Republicans Hide Their Votes from Base." They did the right thing, but in the most unheroic fashion possible.
Why do I like this? Besides just the joy of seeing the Rs in disarray?
First of all, Cruz was absolutely right. The more sensible Republicans did want what Obama, Pelosi and Reid wanted. I think they often want what the reasonable people want. This is important. The divide is only what is hyped up by the media, the Koch brothers, and people like Cruz. If more people recognize this, perhaps the divide will ease. It no longer makes sense to be against anything and everything simply because Obama wants it.
Second, they do view some of their constituents as gullible and foolish. (My reading is that Cruz does too.) That is because, quite frankly, these constituents are gullible and foolish. It is time for us, and everyone else, to point out that by swallowing the lines of the Republicans, they are behaving in a manner that is gullible and foolish. But what is wonderful is that a Republican has called them gullible and foolish. These words were not uttered (this time) by a Democrat, but by a Republican. Again, it makes it easier to have the conversation that we need to have.
The Republican establishment has been amazingly hypocritical. The Tea Party is full of gullible fools. Ted Cruz's statements may help bring these truths out into the open. And by doing what he did, he helped relax the Tea Party's grip on the throat of America. The bill passed with 67 votes instead of 60.
Of course, these are not the reasons that Ted Cruz did what he did. He is not some secret mole who was raised by Democrats (in Canada, no less) and given the mission of infiltrating the Republicans in order to destroy them (even if that is what he ends up doing). No, he is a more coherent, male version of Sarah Palin, and is simply an opportunist. By splitting off the group of die-hard Tea partiers he can make a lot of money. It's quite the industry, pandering to and ginning up these fanatics.
I'm reminded by what Gabby Giffords said in the recent battle for better gun control (which unfortunately failed). She told the members of Congress: "Be brave." I thought it was an odd choice of words at the time. It turns out that they need this encouragement. McCain and McConnell had to sneak in the cover of silence to cast their yea votes. But they cast them. And that is progress.
Tired of politics? Need to escape? Try one of my Greek-mythology based novels, either the story of Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus or a trilogy about Niobe, or one of the first examples of civil disobedience, Antigone and Creon. Or, if you like mysteries and/or Jane Austen, treat yourself to The Highbury Murders: A Mystery Set in the Village of Jane Austen’s Emma.