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Ted Cruz Is Under Fire, And He Doesn’t Care

Ted Cruz

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives and the Senate passed a bill that, when signed into law by President Obama, grants the Federal Government borrowing authority all the way through mid-March 2015. As I noted earlier this week, the decision to go with a clean bill in the House was somewhat of a surprise given how that GOP Caucus in that body has handled the issue in the recent pass. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what the House leadership did, resulting in a final vote in which just 28 House Republicans joined virtually the entire House Democratic Caucus to pass the bill. In the Senate, things were slightly more complicated. Because Senator Ted Cruz objected to proceeding forward on the bill without a Cloture Vote, that body was required to go through a two step process to get the bill passed. First, they had to hold a Cloture Vote for which 60 votes would be required to proceed to final vote, then they held the final vote. As it turned out, the bill passed both votes but that was only due to the fact that a dozen Senate Republicans joined with the 55 members of the Democratic majority to get passed the 60 vote threshold. Among those voting in favor of cloture were Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn, both of whom are facing challenges from Tea Party backed candidates this year. Also voting in favor of cloture were Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Pat Roberts of Kansas, who are also facing Tea Party challenges. Not surprisingly, each of these candidates were hit with press releases and the like from Tea Party groups condemning their vote on cloture within hours after it was cast. The final vote on passage, on the other hand, passed by a simple majority in which none of the Republican Senators joined.

All of this is leading some Republicans and conservatives to criticize Ted Cruz for forcing what they are calling a meaningless cloture vote which they fear could cost the GOP in its bid to take control of the Senate in this year’s midterm elections.

Consider, for example, this from The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Cruz claims to be neutral in Senate primaries, but he knew exactly what he was doing.

We’re all for holding politicians accountable with votes on substantive issues, but Mr. Cruz knew he couldn’t stop a debt increase the House had already passed. He also had no alternative strategy if the bill had failed, other than to shut down the government again, take public attention away from ObamaCare, and make Republicans even more unpopular.

Democrats beat the odds and retained their Senate majority in 2010 and 2012 in part because they stuck together. If Republicans fail again this November, a big reason will be their rump kamikaze caucus.

Chris Cillizza, meanwhile notes that Cruz’s actions clearly indicate that he really doesn’t care about his future in the Senate:

It’s not news that Cruz cares little for Senate tradition. He ran in 2012 on his willingness to shake up the institution, and time and again — most notably during his nearly 24 hour talk-a-thon to protest Obamacare — he has been willing (and gleefully so) to be a fly in the ointment. But, this latest gambit by Cruz may well be the most telling because it directly impacts two men who, if Cruz had any thought of sticking around the Senate for any extended period of time, not only could, but would make life very uncomfortable for him.

There is nothing that politicians — and especially Senators — hate more than being forced into a politically uncomfortable vote by a colleague of the same party. McConnell and Cornyn, both of whom are favorites to win their primaries, will never forget Cruz’s move this past week.  And, Cruz is plenty smart enough to realize that.

Cruz, ultimately, wants to be president. And, he may well seize his high profile and his status as a hero among the tea party to run in 2016. (If he runs, he is either in or very close to the top tier of candidates.)  If Cruz doesn’t win (or doesn’t run), he won’t be up for re-election until 2o18.  He may well run for a second term but if he decides at some point between now and then — or even after he is re-elected — to go the Jim DeMint route and simply walk away from the Senate, don’t be surprised.

Cruz won’t be climbing the leadership ladder. Ever.

Cillizza is largely correct, I think. Given that he’s at the beginning of his Senate term, Cruz likely figures that he has very little to lose by sticking his thumb in the eye of the GOP Senate leadership and otherwise sending his GOP colleagues that he really doesn’t care about their political futures. It’s a long way to 2018, after all, and even with all the demographic changes going on in Texas right now, it’s likely that Cruz would still be a heavy favorite for reelection should he choose to take that route. The establishment GOP is unlikely to be very enthusiastic about his campaign even then, but he’s likely gambling that he’ll still have the strong support of movement conservatives and whatever the Tea Party has evolved into by that point and that this would be enough to keep his seat safe for another six years. In the meantime, there’s really very little reason for him to play the ‘go along to get along’ strategy that you typically see from freshman Senators. Cruz clearly has his eyes set elsewhere, and that means he has no incentive at all to cooperate with his fellow Republicans, or to consider the long term interests of his party at all.

Whether the rest of the GOP will stand for his antics much longer is the important question.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    He seems to be feared by many Republican politicians – and with the mid-terms coming up, and knowing that base Republican voters tend to turn out, perhaps they have good reason to fear Cruz.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  2. mantis says:

    Why should he care? When he singlehandedly drove House Republicans to abandon their immigration reform “principles” the day after they announced them by screaming “Amnesty!” on TV, did they blame him? No, they blamed Obama.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  3. Pinky says:

    So now we’re criticizing him for not showing enough deference to the institution’s current leadership? 50 years ago, wouldn’t we have called that a Profile in Courage?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 23

  4. mantis says:

    @Pinky:

    So now we’re criticizing him for not showing enough deference to the institution’s current leadership?

    That’s not why he is being criticized. He is being criticized for screwing his Republican colleagues and accomplishing nothing in the process. He forced a cloture vote that did not change the outcome, but put some House GOP members in a more difficult position for next year’s election. That’s not lack of deference, but intra-party sabotage. If you can’t see why the members of his party are pissed, you must not have ever had to work with other people. When will you move out of mom’s basement and get a job?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 3

  5. Davebo says:

    @Pinky:

    No, today, and fifty years ago, we would call that a profile in grand standing and screwing your fellow party members.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  6. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    So now we’re criticizing him for not showing enough deference to the institution’s current leadership? 50 years ago, wouldn’t we have called that a Profile in Courage?

    The fact that he supported leveraging GOP budget demands against a default on federal government debt securities is a profile in courage? Oh, okay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  7. Stonetools says:

    I disagree somewhat with Doug’s analysis and agree with Byron York take in the Examiner. Ted Cruz isn’t just a maverick out for himself : he and Mike Lee and others represent a considerable number of Republicans who truly believe that the Republican establishment are sell outs. They believe that the public is behind them in their mission, which is to dismantle the federal safety net root and branch and in general to roll back the USA to 1932 if not earlier. The a Republicans have a decision to make: whether they want to be the party of rollback or the party of moderation. Their problem is their most devoted followers are rollback enthusiasts, and they love them some Ted Cruz.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  8. Ted Cruz: democratic plant. Nothing else makes sense.

    Has someone at least checked for pods, ffs?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Grifters gotta grift…

    @Pinky: A Profile in Courage??? Have to say that you have a low bar on a definition of “courage”. Name me one thing Ted Cruz has sacrificed and I’ll explain to you how it is that he never had it to begin with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  10. EddieInCA says:

    Ted Cruz might have just saved the Senate for the Dems in the 2014 elections. McConnell and several of his leadership team were forced to vote for the clean debt limit bill before them – to get to the sixty votes that Cruz insisted they had to get.

    Immediately, Matt Bevins in Kentucky started running ads against McConnell for the vote. If the Tea Party is able to oust McConnell in the primary, which seems unlikely – given the latest polling – but not impossible, then Grimes will beat Bevin rather handily in the general. Especially given how well the ACA is doing in Kentucky – led by it’s Dem Governor.

    That would be poetic justice. McConnell out of the Senate before the end of Obama’s term.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  11. jukeboxgrad says:

    Cillizza:

    if he decides at some point between now and then — or even after he is re-elected — to go the Jim DeMint route and simply walk away from the Senate, don’t be surprised

    This reminds me of something I said here 3 months ago:

    Palin and DeMint are both people who looked at Rush and Sean and Bill and realized that Entertainer is a better career than Politician. Cruz is following them down the same road.

    I think a lot of people misunderstand Cruz’s intentions. Cruz is not planning to become president of the United States. He just wants to be president of the tea party (and he’s already achieved that goal). A much easier job, much better pay, and no term limits. And he is well-qualified for the position because he knows how to fleece the rubes.

    Doug:

    Cruz likely figures that he has very little to lose by sticking his thumb in the eye of the GOP Senate leadership

    You have to go further than this to describe what’s really happening. It’s not just that Cruz doesn’t “lose” when the ‘Establishment’ hates him. It’s that he wins. He needs them to hate him. Every instance of some ‘Establishment’ figure being mean to him just causes his loony base to become more aroused. They are heavily influenced by what you might call reverse endorsements. It goes like this: ‘Palin [allegedly] drives liberals nuts, so therefore I will support her.’ Or: ‘people I hate hate Cruz, so therefore he must be doing something right.’

    This dynamic is fundamentally negative, shallow, reflexive and mindless but of course that fits the group we’re discussing. People like Palin and Cruz are in the business of exploiting this dynamic, and they know that making the right people mad is like money in the bank for them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. jukeboxgrad says:

    WSJ:

    He also had no alternative strategy if the bill had failed, other than to shut down the government again

    This is exceptionally sloppy work by WSJ. The result would not have been “to shut down the government again.” It would have been to default on our financial obligations, something unprecedented and much worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. dennis says:

    @Pinky:

    Pinky, I disagree with just about everything you post, but this one here is actually disturbing. In a five-second flash I imagined a Ted Cruz presidency. What a frightening prospect. A comparative and predictive observation of a G.W. Bush presidency, during which the man and his close aides were capable of any apocalyptic mayhem, vs. a Ted Cruz presidency led by a man who believes he’s led by God with a stronger conviction of it than Bush, is truly disturbing. As is the assurance that you and those who reason (???) in a like manner would actually vote for him.

    Call me crazy, but the vivid image of LGBTQs and other “undesirables” being rounded up under a Ted Cruz presidency isn’t so farfetched when you consider the increased police state that has arisen fueled by the U.S. Patriot Act. The narrow, authoritarian ideology which you seem to espouse is going to backfire on you (and us) if you persist down that road.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  14. dennis says:

    Okay, after reading several posts about Cruz’ money-grubbing motives, I may have been over the top with the Mad Max imagery. Greed, graft, and grift I can live with. Delusion-fed attempts to bring about the apocalypse and The Second Coming truly frighten me. Because deluded religious fanatics are capable of all manner of atrocities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Pinky says:

    Dennis, you definitely are using your imagination. The imagination-to-analysis ratio that Cruz inspires is like nothing I’ve seen before. I’ve said before that I wouldn’t vote in the primary for anyone with less than 8 or so years of high-level experience. I’ve never said I’d vote for Cruz in 2016, because I wouldn’t. As for the roundup of gays, I think even you realized that that image was based on nothing. And why would you believe that Cruz would try to bring about the Apocalypse? Is that based on anything he’s ever said, or ever hinted at?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  16. dennis says:

    @Pinky:

    Hey, Pinky. Yes, I admit I stand corrected on the hyperbole, and assumptions I made about your voting habits.

    The other remarks about Cruz? Well, have you listened to his father speak? That’s pure, old-time religion right there and junior hasn’t said word one countering it. He’s not far from the tree at all. Granted, I’m making certain presumptions; but, I entered the church as an adult and left it as a more mature one. I’ve seen their kind all my adult life. Cruz hides it well, but that crazy-azzed Millenialist ideology is just below the surface waiting to be scratched.

    Oh, and apologies to you for making semi-founded assumptions about you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. dennis says:

    @Pinky:

    “The imagination-to-analysis ratio that Cruz inspires is like nothing I’ve seen before.”

    Pinky, have you noticed the same ratio applies to President Obama? I hope it hasn’t escaped you, seeing as you’re so astute and intuitive…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. Pinky says:

    @dennis: I really think it’s a different order of magnitude. There’ve been other Republicans who’ve gotten dumped on based on people’s imagination, and plenty of Democrats as well. But there’s usually been some kind of a paper trail to base it on. There doesn’t seem to be anything with Cruz that would account for the degree of upset, even panic, that I see. Is it because he looks like he’s sneering? I know that can bother people. Dick Cheney was not blessed with a non-sneering face. But again, Cheney had a record. The reaction to Cruz seems all out of proportion. I just don’t understand it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. dennis says:

    There doesn’t seem to be anything with Cruz that would account for the degree of upset, even panic, that I see.

    Heh heh. You wrote that, huh?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    I think it’s all the compromise=surrender, take no prisoners, shut down the government and default on the debt stuff that has people worried about Cruz and what he would do if he had more power. If his rhetoric is at all close to his ideology and he were the president this past year and the senate refused to repeal the ACA the US would have defaulted on its debt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills: That’s a lot of if’s. (Like I said, imagination.) The biggest assumption of all of them is that a President Cruz would have no other negotiating options than those of a junior Senator in the minority party. But – even if all those things happened, the US wouldn’t default on her debt. The government takes in enough revenue to easily cover the debt payments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Pinky:

    …wouldn’t we have called that a Profile in Courage?

    If he was doing it to accomplish anything good, or principled, perhaps. As he’s only doing it to further his own career, no.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    It is two ifs, if his convictions match his rhetoric and if he were president.
    We only have someone’s past actions to judge them by. Cruz’s past actions make me want to keep him away from the levers of power. Do you see anything in his past actions that makes you want to see him have more power rather than less?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. Tedder P. says:

    The fact of the matter is that this man, Cruz, is an arrogant, ostentatious (just look at the picture) newbie who thinks he can rule and control politics and have all others bend to his way of thinking. That is now being slowly realized by members of his own party who are undoubtedly at the end of their rope with him and don’t be surprised if he is ostracized soon. It will surely backfire on him should he decide to run for re-election as senator. As for the presidency in 2016, with a contemptuous track record like his — Not A Chance!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0