Cruz’s floor speech technically isn’t a filibuster because he can’t delay today’s vote on the House CR, but so what? Davis wasn’t going to stop the Texas legislature from passing new restrictions on late-term abortion either. Part of the romance of the long floor speech is that it is ultimately futile; you speak for your cause even though it’s lost because you believe in it that deeply. But of course, of course, the coverage is different this morning than it was for Davis: See Tim Carney, John Sexton, or especially the Right Scoop for more. If you want to dismiss Cruz for pulling a stunt that’s apt to do more to promote him for higher officer than stop the other party, that’s fine, but it’s awfully precious coming after the Wendy Davis “Vogue” feature and Team Wendy’s impending rollout of her candidacy for governor.
Sometimes the stench is so strong that even the press has no choice but to acknowledge its ideological farts. Politico cuts on the bias:
When a Democrat like Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters against abortion restrictions, she is elevated to hero status, her tennis shoes become totems. When Sen. Cruz grandstands against Obamacare, he is a laughingstock in the eyes of many journalists on Twitter, an “embarrassment” in the eyes of The New York Times editorial board…
Yes, the difference between filibustering and grandstanding plays a part. Equally important is the fact that Cruz’s theatrics are frustrating members of his own party. But, part of the disparity in coverage is due to the fact that the mainstream media, generally speaking, don’t admire Cruz the way they admired Davis — or rather, they admire him only insofar as he makes for tragicomic theater, whereas they admired her on the merits…
These portrayals may be accurate or inaccuarate — Cruz certainly has an elitist strain and he certainly has political ambitions. But that’s not the point: the point is that the coverage of Cruz has been critical, and in some cases unforgiving, from the outset. At least initially, Davis wasn’t viewed through a critical lens at all. Her willingness to stand for eleven hours was evidence of the American dream in action. Period.
ABC may end up interviewing Cruz but rest assured that they won’t play pattycake with him with their questions when they do. Compare that last link, in fact, to this sneering WaPo piece of the view from the Senate gallery of Cruz’s filibuster as it got going. (Some media outlets chose instead to ignore Cruz’s filibuster entirely on the front page. One of them, per HA contributor Karl, was WaPo, which has otherwise covered the prospect of a Cruz filibuster at length.) Here’s the only wrinkle: Did Davis get the media version of a ticker-tape parade because she championed *a* left-wing issue or *the* left-wing issue? Bernie Sanders staged a futile filibuster of his own a few years ago that made liberals euphoric for a few hours, but that faded away so quickly that I’d forgotten about it until someone on Twitter mentioned it this morning. If she had filibustered for 12 hours in support of, say, higher spending for some pet liberal project, would “Wendy for Governor” be a thing among Democrats in Texas? It would have gotten some coverage, I think, despite her having a comparatively lower profile as a state senator, because the media wouldn’t be able to resist the sisters-are-doing-it-for-themselves novelty of a woman politician staging a talking filibuster for hours when the men in her party wouldn’t. But that too, I think, would have been a blip. Those pink sneakers don’t achieve totemic status without her choosing an issue that’s absolutely core to her party’s national identity. She and Cruz have that in common, in fact. He’s making his bones by drawing a line at stopping ObamaCare. She made hers drawing a line at stopping laws that would reduce late-term abortions. Naturally, she’s a hero.
All that said, I think there’s a grain of truth in Benjy Sarlin’s point about why conservatives are bristling at the double standard this morning. It’s not just the media hypocrisy, which is predictable, that grates. It’s that, after days of internecine sniping at each other over Cruz’s strategy, both RINOs and true conservatives can at last unite in common grievance at the unfairness. Three cheers for the media!