Politics is a nasty business.
False accusations, innuendo, muckraking…politicians will do whatever it takes to win over the voters.
As Chris Christie once said: “Politics ain’t bean bag.”
Normally politicians reserve these unsavory tactics for their opponents on the other side of the aisle. Not so for the “honorable” junior senator from the great state of Texas…Ted Cruz. To Senator Cruz the halls of congress are mere pathways to a greater calling…his colleagues simple pawns to be used at his discretion. For Senator Ted Cruz is all about Senator Ted Cruz.
You may recall last October the good senator was meeting with House Republicans…urging them to stand strong and cut government spending…even if it meant shutting down the government. Cruz was the consummate cheerleader…rooting House members on from the sidelines.
And shut down the government they did…for 16 days.
Yet when the avalanche of criticism thundered down on his party…there was Cruz…shocked that anyone would think he had played any part in orchestrating a shutdown that cost the economy billions…opining that it was a failed strategy from the start. And when it came time for the senate to vote on providing the funds to reopen the government…there was Cruz voting “yea”…throwing his colleagues in the House under the bus.
Cruz wanted the government shut down to make a political point and curry favor with his base. He got his minions in the House to do the heavy lifting…playing them like fools while portraying himself as an innocent bystander.
Cruz was at it again this week. This time his target was the Republican leadership in the Senate.
The House had just passed a clean bill to extend the debt ceiling. Harry Reid said that he would bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. Cruz was having none of it. He told anyone who would listen that he would filibuster the measure to prevent passage with a simple majority. If the country were to default on its debts…so be it. The Tea Party base was smiling.
Republican leadership responded. They understood that their party could ill afford another political fiasco like the previously mentioned government shutdown…particularly in this an election year. GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the senior senator from Texas, John Cornyn worked the floor to head off Cruz’s filibuster. They persuaded 12 Republicans to join Democrats in passing the bill 67-31.
McConnell and Cornyn face tough re-election campaigns back home. Both are being challenged from the right by Tea Party candidates. Cruz wants them both gone. He has no use for moderates who are willing to work with the other side. He sees compromise as a weakness.
So he blusters on about a filibuster knowing full well that McConnell and Cornyn will work against him. Getting McConnell and Cornyn on the record as voting FOR an increase in the debt limit is the goal. It weakens their prospects for re-election. If the government shuts down in the process...mores’ the better. Cruz wins either way. His base is happy and he stands poised to assume the mantle of leadership.
After the votes were cast Cruz was asked if McConnell should maintain his leadership role. "That" he said "is up to the voters in Kentucky."
Politics is a nasty business.
No one knows that better than Ted Cruz.