Last Sunday morning on Fox’s weekly show Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace revealed that preparing for the latest broadcast had taken an unusual turn. Via Fox News:
This has been one of the strangest weeks I’ve ever had in Washington. As soon as we listed Ted Cruz as our featured guest this week, I got unsolicited research and questions, not from Democrats but from top Republicans, to hammer Cruz.
A freshman Senator from Texas with less than a year under his belt, Cruz has made a name for himself as a firebrand and in doing so has set himself at odds with much of the Republican Party. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise after he worked with the Tea Party and radio host Mark Levin to portray his 2012 primary opponent, conservative longtime Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, as a moderate and soundly defeated him in a runoff for former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s seat last year.
But in this case, Cruz is now on the national stage leading the charge to get rid of Obamacare. The only problem is, as educated observers know, repealing or defunding the health care law is impossible with the current makeup of Congress. So he has decided to fulfill his campaign promise of doing whatever he can to stop it including leading the charge for a government shutdown.
Ironically his tactics may have made him a liberal hero by generating considerable opposition within his own party and causing a rift in the GOP. As Karl Rove pointed out last week in the Wall Street Journal:
House Republicans could pass a bill that funds the government while killing all Obamacare spending. But the Democratic Senate could just amend the measure to restore funding and send it back to the House. What then? Even the defund strategy's authors say they don't want a government shutdown. But their approach means we'll get one.
After all, avoiding a shutdown would require, first, at least five Senate Democrats voting to defund Obamacare. But not a single Senate Democrat says he'll do that, and there is no prospect of winning one over. Second, assuming enough Senate Democrats materialize to defund Obamacare, the measure faces a presidential veto. Republicans would need 54 House Democrats and 21 Senate Democrats to vote to override the president's veto. No sentient being believes that will happen.
But apparently that doesn’t matter to Cruz and supporters such as Levin and Sarah Palin. Levin wasted no time in calling Rove a “big government liberal” on his Facebook page because Rove pointed out that the grandstanding won’t change the legislation and is already a PR nightmare for the GOP. Never mind that Rove and others are just as opposed to Obamacare as Cruz. Somehow questioning the strategy as supported by facts engenders the dreaded “liberal” moniker from the bomb throwing far right.
As it happens, even that flaming liberal Rand Paul has stated that the GOP has lost on this issue and that it’s time to focus on improving the law because Cruz’ latest escapades are not going to work.
The threat over defunding has been to allow a government shutdown and Cruz is standing by it despite opposition from his colleagues and the public. The House is largely aware of the implications and has drafted a bill to defund Obamacare while keeping the government running but on Wednesday, Cruz further infuriated his colleagues by admitting defeat on defunding while staying his course of shutdown leaving the House to fend for themselves.
“Senate Republicans like Cruz, who are trying to force the issue, are
holding the entire Congress hostage," said King, who voted for the House resolution to defund Obamacare while funding the government.
King said he cast his vote "to keep the process going," but predicted the Senate will strip Obamacare defunding from the bill, pass it, and send it back to the House.
The Senate's vote would show Cruz was "being fraudulent all summer" while exposing the intentions of the senator and others who were crying out for a defunding measure, King said.
Of course, Cruz has vowed to stop at nothing to defund Obamacare even suggesting a possible filibuster, a curious stance that has drawn comparisons to Wendy Davis, the Texas State Senator who recently gained national attention by filibustering an abortion bill. Oh, the irony.
Sen. Bob Corker echoed King’s frustration, tweeting “I didn’t go to Harvard or Princeton, but I can count—the defunding box canyon is a tactic that will fail and weaken our position.”
What is the end game for Cruz and cohort Utah Senator Mike Lee, beyond national attention for a possible presidential run and gathering millions of names from their defund Obamacare petition? Perhaps Cruz is really, as one senior Republican leadership source quipped, “a secret cabal of leftists that are seeking control of the conservative movement. Their aim is to force the party to take on suicidal missions to destroy the movement from within."
There is nothing wrong with standing on principal but that’s a different animal from being completely unwavering, and with potentially serious consequences. Yet conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt shed some possible light in his critique of Corker and others opposed to Cruz’ agenda. Mediaite reports:
“Hugh Hewitt went off on “whiny” Republicans on Friday like Bob Corker for essentially throwing advocates for defunding like Ted Cruz under the bus.
Hewitt admitted “we’re not gonna win this fight,” but said bringing national attention to the health care law would hopefully give Americans an insight into “what a disaster it is.”
Americans had a great deal of education about what Obamacare is and what was their response? They reelected Barack Obama. Apparently some people need to learn the hard way.
There is a reasonable position that Cruz, Levin and Hewitt would surely call wimpy, yet it is essentially what Rand Paul stated: whether the PPACA is a watershed moment/law or a disaster, it is clearly what the majority of Americans wanted at the time, and it was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. If “to the victor go the spoils” isn’t in your philosophy then how about the “personal responsibility” that the GOP is so adamantly espouses?
Indeed, many of us have to learn hard lessons and while Americans may be slow at times, they are learning about the PPACA. Rove’s numbers among independents are in sync with Kathleen Parker’s commentary last Friday citing some of the reasons why a CNN poll shows “Only 39 percent of Americans currently favor the health-care program, compared with 51 percent in January.
A friend summed it up best: this defund debacle is the height of immature, childish insanity and will only serve to make sure that Obamacare is the law of the land for a lot longer, because the GOP will certainly not win back the Senate and may very well lose the House.
The inexplicably elusive dirty little secret is that politicians and parties advance a cause by winning elections, not committing political suicide by advocating legislation impossible to pass and using tactics clearly opposed by the electorate and that's exactly what's happening. Rove also pointed out:
Today, independents look more like Republicans than Democrats, especially when it comes to health care. In a new Crossroads GPS health-care policy survey conducted in 10 states likely to have competitive Senate races and in House districts that lean Republican or are swing seats, 60% of independents oppose President Obama's Affordable Care Act. If this holds through 2014, then Republicans should receive another big boost in the midterms.
There is, however, one issue on which independents disagree with Republicans: using the threat of a government shutdown to defund ObamaCare. By 58% to 30% in the GPS poll, they oppose defunding ObamaCare if that risks even a temporary shutdown.
General George S. Patton famously said "no poor bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win a war by making the other poor bastard die for his.
Democrats passed a seriously flawed health-care bill with zero support from across the aisle rather than looking to other countries with superior health care systems as a guide for reforming ours. That was dumb. Not only is the system bad in and of itself but it also fuels opposition to the already spurious concept of “government run health care.” Oh well—most Democrats somehow still seem to somehow believe it's a step in the right direction or at least they won't admit otherwise.
The American people clearly are having more and more problems with the health care law. The GOP could have taken advantage and proposed a better alternative. Instead, they are cementing their reputation as obstructionists while engaged in fruitless attempts to remove the law. And while they failing to provide any solutions they rip themselves up infighting—a perfect storm for the media to pounce on.
At this rate the GOP is indeed likely to have fewer votes to support any of their legislation or oppose the Democrats after the 2014 election and it’s fair to say we should be preparing for unintended consequences including swearing in Hilary Clinton in 2017. Calling the GOP’s current course on this issue “dumb” would be an insult to dumb people—it’s a lot dumber; in fact, it seems nothing short of dumberest. It appears they will have to learn the hard way as well but since they didn't after the 2012 elections it's anybody's guess if they will anytime soon.