By A.B. Stoddard - 09/25/13 11:00 PM EDT
If only Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had been correct last March when he criticized House Republicans for their “meaningless show votes” to repeal ObamaCare, insisting that Congress could defund it with the votes of Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate alone. “We don’t need a single Democrat vote,” the freshman senator said, knowing it wasn’t true.
If only his Don’t Fund Obamacare website was telling the truth with its declaration that “Republicans in Congress can stop Obamacare if they refuse to fund it.” If only his marathon Senate floor speech this week was actually a filibuster that could stop a vote, instead of a show Cruz sought permission for from the Senate Democratic leader. Not only would it have been less inauthentic and goofy, but then his website would have actually been correct with its headline urging visitors to “Watch the Obamacare filibuster live.”
If only all those supporters could be rewarded with results — or at least the truth — instead of being had.
But as Cruz succeeded in snookering the grass roots, he built his brand, his email list and his donor list. Along the way, he also deliberately threw House Republicans under the bus. He and the outside groups that are supporting his Cruz-ade to shut down the government if any spending bill funds the new healthcare law barraged House Republicans with letters, emails and phone calls, urging them to do something they couldn’t do. Nowhere in his speeches at town halls this summer, or on his website, has he informed the public that it would take supermajorities of two-thirds of the House and Senate to override a veto the president would surely sign after any attempt to defund his signature legislative accomplishment.
Fuming, House Republicans last week passed a continuing resolution that would defund ObamaCare, but fund all remaining government operations, and sent it to the Senate to see just what magic Cruz would work. Predictably, Cruz conceded it would fail in the chamber and that achieving his goal might actually take a few more elections. Still, Cruz said when the bill came from the Senate without the defunding language, House Republicans “must stand firm, hold their ground and continue to listen to the American people.”
Cruz’s Senate GOP colleagues asked him to relent, arguing more time could provide the House an opportunity to add conservative proposals to a spending bill that Senate Democrats might actually support to keep the government open. But Cruz refused. Just before beginning his fake filibuster he declared, “We don’t need fake fights. We don’t need fake votes. We need real change.”
An all-nighter later, Cruz has done nothing to stop, slow or change ObamaCare. He has taken the only issue that unites the GOP — a party that is split over national security, gay marriage, the sequester cuts, immigration reform and entitlement reform — and divided Republicans with it.
Reading to his daughters Green Eggs and Ham at bedtime from the Senate floor during a nearly 22-hour speech ensured Cruz owned the news cycle, the headlines and the Twitterverse. As he belittled team work, referred to trading his cowboy boots for sneakers and talked endlessly about himself and his own opinions, he must have heard Dr. Seuss exhorting him: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.