Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, September 27, 2013.
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We were treated to some political theater this week. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) staged a faux filibuster that drew attention of nearly every sort from nearly every quarter. On the subject of that non-filibuster filibuster, one of the Tweets that I read said, “How can Texans NOT be embarrassed?”
In case you missed it, our own junior senator engaged in a 21-hour non-stop talk-a-thon on the floor of the Senate. It happened as a result of the fact that absent the passage by Congress of what is called (rather blandly, considering the amount of money involved) a “continuing resolution,” the government will run out of spending authority over the weekend and the government will be forced to shut down. (That it somehow never shuts down even when it is “shut down” is a topic for future discussion.)
Senator Cruz believes that any deal in Congress regarding a continuing resolution should include a provision to cut funding for Obamacare. Say Cruz and his supporters in effect, ‘We’ll fund the government provided we don’t have to fund Obamacare.’ What they really mean is, ‘The CR is the only leverage we have.’
Of course Cruz is now the target of withering criticism from Democrats. No surprise there.
But he’s also taking heat from the so-called “establishment” of his own Republican Party. Of particular interest to Texans: there now appears to be a serious rift between Cruz and the senior senator from Texas, John Cornyn. Reports have it that Cornyn believes that Cruz’s efforts will, in the end, hurt Republicans. Cruz has publicly hinted that he would not support Cornyn against a primary challenger. It could get ugly.
To help fill the 21 hours, Sen. Cruz resorted to such things as reading from Dr. Seuss’s children’s classic “Green Eggs & Ham.” This, of course, evoked howls of derision from virtually every Democrat and not a few Republicans. All such howling detractors have apparently forgotten, however, that stunts like the reading out loud of dry cleaning receipts and pages from the phone book constitute a time-honored tradition with respect to senate filibusters. Such stunts have been employed throughout our history by celebrated senators from both parties. (In 2003, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) began reading from his book, Searchlight, in a filibuster aimed at blocking judicial nominations put forth by Pres. George W. Bush. I’m sure everyone would have preferred Dr. Seuss.)
It can be reasonably argued that Cruz’s grandstanding looked foolish and wasted a lot of political capital on an effort that had exactly zero chance of success. That’s what the Tweeter mentioned above would have us Texans being embarrassed about.
But there is another argument to be made. That he had no chance of a substantive result is something that Cruz had to know going in. That fact is beside the point.
What Cruz has succeeded in doing is to force the Democrats that conjured Obamacare in the dark of the night to bear public responsibility for the disaster they have created. He has forced many Republicans to explain why their efforts to de-fang the law are so tepid.
Cruz has helped remind us that Democrats — and Democrats alone — passed a monstrous bill without having read it. He has reminded us that there is not a single Republican fingerprint on this terrible law. Not one. On a measure of such scope, it’s unprecedented.
As people all over the country start coming to grips with huge health insurance premium increases, he reminds us that we were promised that the average family would see a $2,500 reduction in health insurance costs.
Cruz’s theatrics come at a time when public support for Obamacare is plummeting and even some Democrats are figuring out how truly awful, fiscally unsustainable and damaging to the economy the law really is.
By engaging in what I am sure even he would admit is a stunt, Cruz has effectively asked the question as it pertains to Obamacare, “How can Democrats not be embarrassed?”