I have been reading and hearing about Ted Cruz all day. You don’t have a second act without a first and he certainly has put on a heck of a first act. Touring about, I’ll mention the unexpectedly positive Chris Clizza at the WaPo, “What Ted Cruz’s speech accomplished“ and that was four positive things:
1. Cruz rounded himself out — in a good way.
2. Cruz proved he was more than just buzz. Clizza says, “Democrats — and some Republicans — have taken to comparing Cruz to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman, a politician able to generate massive amounts of buzz but who ultimately won’t able to translate buzz into votes because there wasn’t all that much there there.
3. Cruz’s talkathon revealed that there was substance behind the sizzle that he represents to the Republican base. This one is important and is good news: “Cruz demonstrated that he isn’t an island unto himself. Aside from the usual suspects — Rand Paul and Mike Lee — a number of other Republican senators came to the floor to lend support to and ask questions of Cruz. That group included: Jeff Sessions (Ala.), David Vitter (La.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.).”
4. Cruz can talk: “Imagine the rhetorical and debating skills that Cruz showcased over the past 24 hours ported onto a debate stage in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina in 2016.” Yes he can, and this means a whole lot for conservatives.
Then we see “The Cruz Way: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” by Daniel Larison in The American Conservative. He says,
It’s useful to remember that Cruz won the primary last year not because of any substantive policy disagreement or even because of his superior qualifications, but because he pledged that he would be uncooperative, combative, and generally obnoxious once in office. He has delivered on that promise, but I wonder if that is the kind of representation that most Texans or conservatives genuinely want. Cruz has excelled at rubbing people the wrong way, but this has extended not only to the people that he thinks he’s supposed to irritate (i.e., party leaders, Democrats, journalists, etc.) but to other conservatives and would-be allies in Congress.
Which leads me to agree with this Washington Times editorial, “Aiming at the wrong target: Some Republicans want to fight other Republicans” which has been a major complaint I’ve been reading or hearing all day.
Other Republicans say the Cruz plan is suicide. Karl Rove, the Republican strategist who helped elect George W. Bush, is no fan of the shutdown. Mr. Wallace asked Mr. Rove to explain the anger toward Mr. Cruz, and he said it was because Mr. Cruz, together with Sen. Mike Lee, devised the strategy without consulting the Republican leadership. Failing to kiss the ring has been the most unpardonable of sins, and it’s a sin Mr. Cruz frequently commits, though it’s not a sin as rare as it once was.
But I also like Daniel Henninger who says, “Let ObamaCare Collapse: Congress can’t kill the entitlement state. Only the American people can.”
If ObamaCare fails, or seriously falters, the entitlement state will suffer a historic loss of credibility with the American people. It will finally be vulnerable to challenge and fundamental change. But no mere congressional vote can achieve that. Only the American people can kill ObamaCare.
No matter what Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies do, ObamaCare won’t die. It would return another day in some other incarnation. The Democrats would argue, rightly, that the ideas inside ObamaCare weren’t defeated. What the Democrats would lose is a vote in Congress, nothing more
Republicans and conservatives, instead of tilting at the defunding windmill, should be working now to present the American people with the policy ideas that will emerge inevitably when ObamaCare’s declines. The system of private insurance exchanges being adopted by the likes of Walgreens suggests a parallel alternative to ObamaCare may be happening already.
So we could let Obamacare die a natural death? I don’t see that it is an assured death without someone insisting that a national health care program is not necessary and inevitable: “the future”. And that is why what Ted Cruz did was not a waste, despite what will happen, or rather not happen, to the funding for Obamacare in the Senate. It is also true that until the American people become alarmed at the levels of government spending that is causing the current budget flap, nothing will be done about it. In both cases, unless conservative politicians make the solid case that these things are not inevitable, then Americans will not suffer the changes necessary. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” That’s what elections are all about, but as relatively painless as our elections are, people need to fear something like despotism to be impelled to real change.
Hat-tip to Ken Masugi and David Frisk.