The recent political turmoil in Washington was multifaceted and involved quite a few personalities, motivations, and working parts. No one person was ultimately responsible for the entire nightmare.
But if we were to focus in on one main culprit, it’s safe to say Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) would lead the list of suspects. He spent the August recess demanding his party follow his shutdown plan; he offered leadership to House Republicans; the right-wing senator even made himself the public face of this fiasco with a 21-hour speech that served no legislative purpose, but made it easy for Ted Cruz to celebrate his fondness for Ted Cruz.
The freshman Republican became so notorious that when he campaigned for Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia a couple of weeks ago, the gubernatorial hopeful didn’t want any photographs taken of the two of them together.
But let’s not miss the forest for the trees. Cruz led his party into a ditch and drew the ire of Republicans who blame him for his misguided crusade, but the far-right Texan appears to still be in the midst of a long con.
If you were curious, talking on television for 21 straight hours is very lucrative. Over the last quarter, Ted Cruz’s still-young political action committee pulled in $797,000 during the period that included his extended C-SPAN advertorial. It’s nearly twice what Cruz pulled in the quarter prior. […]His October report, which covers July 1 to September 30, notes that his PAC has $378,000 on-hand after the nearly $800,000 haul, money that will be used to support conservative candidates and issues close to Cruz’s heart.
Cruz isn’t making many friends among his Senate colleagues; he has no prospects for actually passing bills; and he’s cultivated a public reputation as a dangerous extremist. This may seem like a poor combination, but the senator clearly doesn’t see it that way.
While pushing his party over a cliff, Cruz has also positioned himself as a guy capable of winning straw polls, quickly raising a lot of money, and collecting a massive new database of conservative donors and activists – which may come in handy if a certain someone intends to launch a bid for national office in a couple of years.
Cruz’s party shut down the government and caused a debt-ceiling crisis for reasons that still don’t make any sense, leading to a surrender in which Republicans gained nothing. In fact, it was worse than nothing – the GOP has seen its support collapse, ending up with a deal that could have been better for the party had it been less ridiculous weeks ago.
But from Cruz’s perspective, these developments, while unfortunate, are a small price to pay for advancing his personal ambitions.