Quotes of the day

“Where is the outrage?” Cruz asked at one point.

The message is crystal clear: I get why Democrats are acting the way they are, but I don’t understand why Republicans aren’t doing more to stand by me.

Cruz’s speech then is rightly understood as an indictment of his own party, a party unwilling — in the Texas senator’s mind — to stand on principle when the moment requires it. As we wrote Monday, from the moment Cruz started talking Tuesday, it was clear that this speech had lots (and lots) of 2016 overtones — and his focus on how he was the one true standard-bearer for the cause is obviously a (potentially) potent message in a GOP presidential primary.

Cruz’s rhetoric won’t win him any goodwill among the GOP establishment in Washington. And that’s just how he wants it.


Ted Cruz and Mike Lee will not get the forty-one votes they need to sustain their filibuster. They will be betrayed by Republican senators who are willing to fund Obamacare while claiming to vote against it. But in this filibuster and in their brilliant strategy, they have exposed Republicans who will not fight. They have exposed Republicans who are so desperate for their own reelection they will say or do anything when they could not bother in off years. They have shown Republicans that there are Republicans who are willing to stand up to Barack Obama and to the cowards within their own party.

They have also exposed a lot of people on the outside as frauds. To be sure, there are conservatives who have legitimate reasons to disagree with this strategy. But there are a whole lot who have been exposed as finger lickin’ frauds — willing to put their finger to the wind of beltway opinion to chart their course.

The Beltway Republican pundits bellyaching over Cruz and Lee fighting the fight others promised to fight is just a fart in the maelstrom of conservatives united against both Democrats and the finger lickin’ frauds within the Republican Party who talk a good game then fold like cheap suits.


Coming off a difficult 112th Congress, Republican leaders knew that they needed to build bridges with right-leaning groups that have been giving them fits since the 2010 elections.

Nine months later, the results aren’t great, to say the least…

Many Kentucky conservative activists see McConnell tacking right as a matter of tactics rather than true beliefs — and nationally, the same perception exists. The outreach to conservative groups is seen as more out of necessity than desire, according to one veteran Republican strategist.

“The party has never been at a weaker place in the last 25 years. There is more division now between elected officials and the base than I’ve ever seen,” said the strategist who attends many of the coalition group meetings. “It’s always good to build trust, understand, focus energies — it’s a two-way street. It’s important for leadership to be in touch with the base. It’s their instinct to say, ‘Oh, those guys are crazy. They don’t get it. I’m not going to meet with them anymore.’ It only exacerbates the tension.”


Unfortunately, most Republicans are too stupid to notice that Democrats are walking around with a gigantic glass jaw. Democrats must not be able to believe their dumb luck. Instead of hitting our glass jaw, Republicans have decided to attack Ted Cruz!

Of course, for Cruz’s threat to work, it has to be credible. Too bad Republicans have been blanketing the airwaves proclaiming that: (1) They don’t have the votes to defund Obamacare; and (2) Republicans will get blamed in the event of any government shutdown.

Republicans: You never had to shut the government down! (And thanks for making it blindingly clear that you never intended to.) You could have waited to see how the public opinion was going and cried uncle at the last minute.

But instead of attacking Obamacare and the breathtaking hypocrisy of the Democrats over this massively unpopular law, far too many Republicans have been spending their time attacking Ted Cruz. (Why didn’t we see one-tenth as much venom directed at Sen. Marco Rubio for trying to give the Democrats 30 million new voters with amnesty as we have toward Cruz for trying to defund Obamacare?)


As I type this post, Senator Ted Cruz’s filibuster is winding down, and while the leftist outlets (and, sadly, some Republicans) spew forth their vitriol, I can’t help but think that moments like this and Senator Rand Paul’s “Stand with Rand” filibuster represent key turning points for the conservative movement. I’m far less interested in the Washington inside baseball of who’s mad at whom and far more interested in the effect of passionately demonstrated conservative conviction on our culture.

The Left has long understood the raw cultural power of conviction. How many of our key institutions have been transformed through the sheer force of will expressed by a passionate minority? People with conviction dictate the terms of debate, transform the decision-making paradigm of even the largest entities, and lay the groundwork for larger cultural transformation. This work is rarely, if ever, done with majority support but instead at the urging of the most committed, most dedicated, and most vocal. Thus, our great institutions often change without any public referendum, merely passive acquiescence. Indeed, one reason why people like Senator Cruz can be all-too-successfully labeled as “extremist” in the wider culture has been the power of leftist conviction at work in key cultural institutions.


It has been the immature and ridiculous antics of the Republican Party establishment that has given Cruz the street cred that usually takes years to acquire. The one thing social conservative and libertarian constituents agree on right now is their mutual disdain for the GOP establishment. Seeing that establishment relentlessly attack and melt down over Cruz is almost like a coded message to the base that says, “This is the guy you’ve been waiting for.”

If Cruz can translate that right-of-center economic populism into a real plan to lessen the burden of government on the American worker and small-business owner, you could very well be welcoming President Cruz to the White House 40 months from now.

Will it be the Republican Party establishment — which has done more to promote his brand name than Cruz or his staff could’ve ever hoped to do themselves — that takes credit for it?


In contrast to Paul—and despite his suspiciously ethnic surname and scandalously Canadian birth—Cruz is the favorite son of an older, whiter America. As Paul brings in fresh new blood to a broad, limited-government coalition, Cruz is locking down the tired old blood that realizes the John Boehners, Mitch McConnells, John McCains, and Lindsey Grahams of the world really don’t give a rat’s ass about them. Almost without exception, Cruz’s positions, including his “Potemkin battle” to stop Obamacare, mesh perfectly with what Slate’s David Weigel calls “Republican seats that are largely whiter and more rural than the rest of the country.”…

The odds are that neither Paul nor Cruz will be president. It’s nothing against them; it’s just that the odds are stacked against any individual. But commentators who think these guys are in politics only for themselves are missing the energy that’s driving the wacko birds. Maybe, just maybe, they really do believe in shrinking the size, scope, and spending of the federal government. And maybe they realize that their vehicle of choice, the Republican Party, really does need to reach out to new swaths of the electorate while holding on to conservatives…

They’ve shown that they can work together, and they’ve shown that they’re not standard-issue Republicans but true believers in limited government. In a country where six of 10 voters already think the government is too big, the wacko bird caucus has got a lot of room to fly.


Cruz, who most Republicans believe is positioning himself for a 2016 presidential run, will need the support of at least a portion of the party’s moneyed donors to stay competitive in a primary. But skeptics say he’s running the risk of being seen as unserious by the same people he will need to write him checks in a couple of years.

“Sure, he’s revving up the base, but so did Michele Bachmann and Pat Buchanan,” said one longtime Republican strategist who has worked on multiple state and national campaigns. “If you’re serious about running for president… you need the serious money, more than the direct mail crowd and the small money donors.”

“That,” the Republican said, “is the difference between winning the Iowa Caucus and winning in a serious state like Florida.”


The Leaders of Conservatism that Frum cites all built their reputations over long, achievement-rich careers (Taft was a real legislator, Kemp was about Big Ideas and Outreach more than ideological correctness, Reagan was a successful governor, Gingrich was Speaker of the House), and even then most of them didn’t win the Republican nomination for the presidency, let alone the White House itself. Cruz’s “I’m not here to make friends” strategy, on the other hand, feels built for the short term: It could position him as the True Conservative alternative to Chris Christie in 2016, if he can elbow Paul and Rubio and others (Scott Walker, etc.) out of the way, and then he could beat Christie, if the stars align and the base votes for purity in a way that it hasn’t recently, and then he could beat Hillary Clinton, if … well, give me a few weeks and I’ll come up with a scenario. But if he doesn’t run the table, what then? His current influence with the grassroots is built on a promise to fight, and fight, and fight some more — but if he doesn’t deliver victory, or if he ducks out of running in 2016 at all, how long can he actually retain the spotlight?

To my mind, a figure like Paul, who actually has a policy vision to go with his theatrics, and who inspires loyalty based on distinctive ideas as well as affect, seems much better positioned to survive a 2016 defeat with his prominence and influence intact, ready to lead the opposition to Hillary Clinton on both domestic and foreign policy or else to be a occasional-partner, occasional-problem for a President Christie. Whereas for Cruz to run and lose, either in the primaries or the general, feels like it would fatally puncture his current mystique.


There’s one thing, though, that I think Jonah misses. There may be no consolation prize at the end of this — or perhaps whatever prize there is will be badly damaged.

Sure, there are donations being given and and email lists being made, but the inevitable failure of this plan, which Cruz and others have spoken of as a simple task, could poison a lot of wells. The “defund” movement is huge — a big enough deal that House Leadership felt the pressure to change its strategy on the CR. The grassroots are involved. They’re on fire. That’s great…

Conservative voters and small-dollar donors aren’t fools. You can’t whip them up into a frenzy, fail them, and then just pat them on the head like it never happened. The illusory promise of an easy shortcut to beating Obamacare will leave a bitter aftertaste, resulting in anger, a loss of trust, and even withdrawal from the political process.

Perhaps people will still view Cruz as a hero, and instead take it on the congressmen whom he expected to carry the weight in this whole scheme. Or perhaps they’ll take it out on Cruz himself for promising something he couldn’t deliver. Or perhaps they’ll simply give up.


CRUZ: I will tell you the single biggest surprise in arriving to the Senate is the defeatist attitude here. I mean, we don’t even talk about how to win a fight. There’s no discussion. We talk about, “Hey, let’s get a show vote so we can go tell our constituents we’re doing something.” But I promise you, Rush, if you had to sit through one Senate lunch, you’d be in therapy for a month.

RUSH: (laughing).

CRUZ: I don’t know that you could — as bad as you might think it is, and, listen, these are good men and women. I respect them. I like them. Many of these are my friends, but they’ve been here a long time, and they’re beaten down, and they don’t believe we can win. They don’t believe it can happen, and the answer they say on every issue is, “No, we can’t do it. We can’t do it.”



Via RCP.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023