By Bill Press - 10/21/13 11:31 PM EDT
Even most Republicans agree they ended up the big losers in the shutdown fiasco. They limped out of the shutdown with their lowest ratings ever. In the latest CNN poll, 54 percent of Americans said they believed it’s bad that Republicans control the House, and 63 percent said John Boehner (R-Ohio) should go as Speaker. Ouch!
But what was a disaster for the Republican Party was a blessing for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). True, the Texas senator did not achieve his secondary goal of killing ObamaCare, but he did achieve his primary goal: the self-glorification of Ted Cruz. He snared headlines with his 21-hour cruzbuster on the Senate floor. His favorable rating among Tea Party Republicans soared from 47 percent to 74 percent. And, even after losing in the Senate by a lopsided 81-18 vote, Cruz still declared victory because “We saw ... over 2 million people signing a national petition to defund ObamaCare” (and supporting Ted Cruz for president in 2016).
But what happens Jan. 15, when the next government funding deadline expires? We know where Cruz stands. In an Oct. 18 interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, he would not rule out leading the charge for another shutdown: “What I intend to do is continue standing with the American people to work to stop ObamaCare.” And we know where Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stands — ridiculing the shutdown as “not conservative policy,” the minority leader told CBS News, “There will not be another government shutdown. You can count on that.”
Cruz accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), for example, of convincing President Obama to exempt Congress from ObamaCare when, in fact, members of Congress, under an amendment by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), are actually required to purchase health insurance through health exchanges. Cruz also insisted that Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) considered the Affordable Care Act a “train wreck.” The truth is that while Baucus did once blast administration failures to explain provisions of ObamaCare as a “train wreck,” he later reported that his concerns had been met and he fully supported the legislation. For that phony claim, The Washington Post awarded Cruz its “Three Pinocchios” Award.
Before putting their party on “Cruz control” again, Republicans would be wise to heed those who know him best. In a blistering editorial last week, Cruz’s hometown paper, the Houston Chronicle, regretted endorsing him for Senate in 2012. They know that Cruz is bad for Texas, bad for the Republican Party and bad for the country.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of The Obama Hate Machine.