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September 23, 2013

Ted Cruz and his followers need to grow up

Senator Ted Cruz and his followers are seriously in danger of heading into Ron Paul territory. Paul and his followers would always insist that he, and seemingly only he, stood firm for principle all of the time. Everyone else was not only a squishy, but bad and terrible people. That and Paul and many of his followers are at least just a little bit nutty.

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is a blight on the land and must be repealed. It's a terrible law for all sorts of reasons that I will not get into here. I want to get rid of it plan and simple.

That said, we have to be smart about how we go about it. Sen Cruz seems to think that if we precipitate a government shutdown President Obama will agree to defund his signature program.

This is as nutty of an idea as the come. Cruz and his followers need to think smarter and not use a blunt-force approach that is doomed to failure. This is not how to govern.

I am fully aware of surveys that show that people will not blame Republicans a whole lot more than Democrats for a government shutdown (36 - 39%, both; 17%) but that doesn't change the equation. If I was Obama, or advising him, I would not defund the biggest achievement (in his eyes) of his administration. It just makes no sense.

On Con Jobs and Fighting
National Review
By Jonah Goldberg
September 23, 2013 10:27 AM

Since I set off quite a brouhaha by using the phrase "con job" on Special Report last Friday night, I'd like to throw a few thoughts into the ring now that I've had all weekend to think about it (and argue about it on twitter and in email). First of all, friends (and a few foes) have convinced me I should have found a better term. Con job too strongly implies accusations of bad or even sinister motives. I don't think that's true of Lee and Cruz and I know it's not of their supporters. So for that I apologize.

That said, and with all due respect to Ted Cruz, I find it strange that so many of his biggest supporters won't even allow for the possibility that he may have political interests here that do not begin and end with defunding ObamaCare and which may be skewing his judgment. Don't get me wrong, I am sure that Ted Cruz wants to see ObamaCare go (I am also sure that's true of a great many of the people he's unfairly labeled members of "the surrender caucus" simply because they question the soundness of his strategy). But Ted Cruz also wants to run for president some day - perhaps some day very soon. He wants to cultivate a national political profile and maybe a national database of donors who've signed the petition he plugs incessantly. Maybe those factors play into why he insists that everyone must rally to him and his leadership?

Now I'm no babe in the woods. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of that. Indeed, to a certain extent it speaks very well of him. The GOP needs more risk-takers and political entrepreneurs willing to challenge beltway norms. Whatever disagreements I have with Cruz and Rand Paul, I admire their political creativity and boldness. Cruz has been very successful at changing the debate and galvanizing many on the right (while alienating some others).

But here's where I was coming from when I mistakenly called this a con. While there's nothing wrong or even unusual with Cruz seizing an issue - a very worthy issue! -- and using it as a vehicle for his political ambitions, doing so doesn't make his legislative strategy any more compelling, particularly when it appears he didn't really have one. The plan all along seems to have been "if we build a movement, the votes will come." And if the votes don't come, well we will have this very handy movement as a consolation prize. It's easier to ask everybody to mount up for battle when you'll end up a winner no matter what.

More to the point, the problem with the way Cruz and Lee have talked about their effort is that they made it sound like there was a way to translate the movement into actual legislative victories in the senate. But on Wednesday, when the House actually delivered, Cruz conceded that Reid "has the votes" and seemed to punt things back to the House. And yet in July, Cruz said that ObamaCare can be stopped without "a single Democratic vote" in the Senate. Mike Lee has said if Republicans "simply refuse to fund" ObamaCare we can get rid of it. That "simply" leaves out a whole lot of complicated things.

One thing it leaves out: Even if Cruz and Lee could convince Harry Reid to change the rules and require a 60 vote threshold on stripping ObamaCare (because Harry Reid is such a reasonable guy), the change would also require unanimous consent from all 100 senators. Who thinks that could happen? Anybody?

Even if, somehow, Reid went along - maybe we put the head of his favorite horse in his bed? We're supposed to believe that Chuck Schumer, Al Franken and Barbara Boxer are all going to go along too? Why would they do that when they think a government shutdown would be good for the Democrats? Where's the leverage? How many ponies do you want to decapitate?

The argument I hear most from people boils down to a bunch of epigrams about the importance of fighting. If conservatives don't fight on ObamaCare where will they fight? If you never fight you'll never win. Etc. etc. But conservatives have been fighting ObamaCare for years. And while it's true that if you never fight you'll never win, it's also true that charging into battle when defeat is all but assured is not all that advisable either. Picking your battles isn't "surrender." It's wisdom. I want to get rid of ObamaCare as much as anyone. But I believe the only way to do that at this point is to win back the senate in 2014 and probably the White House in 2016. Even so, I would whole-heartedly support the Defund movement if I didn't think a government shutdown would hurt those chances.

Now I know there are all sorts of elaborate and heartfelt theories about why such skepticism is wrong. Fine. But why such skepticism should elicit cries of cowardice, RINOism (I agree entirely with Andy about the stupidity of that term) and betrayal is beyond me. Disagreements over tactics shouldn't amount to heresy. We're not Bolsheviks.

Posted by Tom at September 23, 2013 8:15 PM

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Comments

Hi Tom. Good post. My issue with the Cruz faction is they are distracting your side from the chance to make good points about the real issue at hand - the debt ceiling. Conservatives have some really valid points that should be aired out in national debate about the growing debt, etc. Instead of a debate on substance, like we really need, we have a circus, with the loudest clowns as the ringleaders. I don't think the Democrats have been spectacular, but it's not like they don't have the votes as you point out.

Posted by: jason at October 3, 2013 10:56 PM

Hi jason

Thank you for stopping by and for your comments. It's been awhile. As you can see I haven't really done much on the blog recently; just too much else going on and this is low priority.

Agreed that there's too much circus and not enough substance.

Best

Tom

Posted by: The Redhunter Author Profile Page at October 7, 2013 9:27 PM

I don't think that Cruz, or any of the others who joined him, seriously thought that ObamaCare would be defunded. Their goal was to highlight GOP opposition to ObamaCare at the same time that ObamaCare begins to bite and annoy Americans.

I know that some say this got in the way of ObamaCare's rollout failure but I disagree. We're dealing with citizens,many of whom are SO uninformed that they don't know the GOP is against ObmamaCare. Hard to believe I know but go look at some of these man in the street interviews of average folks and they don't seem to know much tht you and I are well versed in. How about the guy who said he didn't know much about this Ben Ghazi fellow as an example.

What Cruz did was show that SOMEONE in the GOP has enough fight in them to actually take a stand and not back down even when the case was hopeless. He'll win more support from the base than he'll lose from the wishy washy uninformed independents.

And it's the base that secures victory for us. Just look at how McCain and Romney were supposed to appeal to independents but ended up losing more support from the base than they gained in the other direction.

Posted by: Mike's America at October 16, 2013 11:27 AM

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