It is not uncommon for political neophytes who once raged against the system to, once they get into office, temper their rhetoric in order to get things done, since governance usually requires compromise and not alienating those one needs to work with. But what begins as a tactical maneuver to get others to go along with your plans can often end up with you going along with their plans and eventually changing your own views to theirs. This process is what George Orwell satirized in his Animal Farm where the pigs who overthrew the human farmers on the slogan of “Four legs good, two legs bad” and took charge of running the farm eventually became indistinguishable in attitude, actions, and even appearance from the humans they once despised.
Republican senator Ted Cruz seems to be not following that script. I wrote recently about how, by launching his filibuster against the bill that had the clean raising of the debt ceiling, he wrecked the senate Republican leadership’s covert plan to have the bill passed with purely Democratic votes and without their own support for it becoming public knowledge.
In a radio interview, Cruz says that exposing their hypocrisy was his specific intention.
Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) antics in the recent debt limit vote have drawn the ire of establishment Republicans, and he’s lashing back at them as a bunch of liars and cowards who view their constituents as “rubes.”
“In the 13 months that I’ve been in the Senate, it has become apparent to me that the single thing that Republicans fear the most — and that is when they’re forced to tell the truth. It makes their heads explode,” Cruz told conservative radio host Mark Levin in a remarkable interview posted on Thursday night.
“Make no mistake about it, this was their desired outcome,” Cruz said. “A lot of Republicans wanted exactly what Barack Obama wanted, exactly what Nancy Pelosi wanted, exactly want Harry Reid wanted, which is to raise the debt ceiling but they wanted to be able to tell what they view as their foolish, gullible constituents back home that they didn’t do it. And they’re mad because, by refusing to consent to that, they had to come out in the open they had to admit what they’re doing. And nothing upsets them more.”
He is of course completely correct. As Dana Millbank writes, his Republican colleagues were already furious with him because of his filibuster and this interview is not going to soothe things.
Cruz is an enigmatic character. He is clearly a smart guy and is carrying out some plan but I cannot quite figure out what the plan is, unless he has no intention of staying in the Senate and hopes to win the presidency in 2016 on his purely outsider image. But burning one’s bridges so publicly and spectacularly with one’s own party leadership on purely tactical matters (they pretty much agree on policy) is not usually the way that one seeks higher office. The party hierarchy’s grip on the system may have been weakened, even seriously so, but they are not knocked out yet. Cruz’s flame-throwing tactics might increase his appeal with the party’s base but the leadership still has the ability to make it very difficult for him to win the nomination.