David J. Phillip / AP
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke with reporters today and said he will not delay the emerging bipartisan Senate deal to reopen the government and raise the debt limit.
He's surrendering. As someone who doesn't want an economic crisis, I'm pleased. But I find this action hard to square with Cruz's own rhetoric against the "surrender caucus."
Consider his statement today about the importance of keeping up pressure on weak-kneed Senate Republicans:
We saw real division among Senate Republicans. That was unfortunate. I would point out that had Senate Republicans united and supported House Republicans, the outcome of this I believe would have been very different... I believe going forward that, if the American people continue to rise up, I believe the House will continue to listen to the American people and I hope, in time, the Senate will begin to listen to the American people.
So why doesn't Cruz object to the deal, and force a days-long voting process on it? If he did so, he would force a major public fight in the Senate. He would likely have the opportunity to once again speak for hours on the Senate floor and excoriate his fellow Republican members for their failure to stop Obamacare.
Wouldn't that be useful in his effort to "make D.C. listen"? Shouldn't his fellow Republicans face maximal public shame for their choice to surrender on Obamacare?
"There is nothing to be gained by delaying this vote by one or two days," was his explanation for why he won't do that.
But there was never anything to be gained by any of this; it was always inevitable that Cruz's strategy would end in embarrassment and failure, which is why back in mid-September Speaker John Boehner was desperately trying to avoid implementing it. Nothing has changed today to make delay and destruction any more futile than it was yesterday, back when Cruz was in favor of delay and destruction.
The only thing that has changed, I think, is that Ted Cruz has more to lose than to gain by continuing to wreak havoc. He made his point and drastically increased his national profile. He built an army of deluded conservative supporters who adore him. Taking another grandstanding opportunity and pushing this Senate vote back by a day or two won't raise his profile very much, and it will make his Republican colleagues even more furious with him than they already are.
But in the future, when wreaking havoc is once again in Cruz's political interest, you can expect him to do so.
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