On ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, Jonathan Karl began a segment telling viewers, “When it comes to politics, you could say this has been the year of Ted Cruz.” And while I suppose you could say that, I’m not sure you’d want to.
Consider this exchange between Karl and the freshman right-wing senator.
KARL: You have had a couple of months to think about this whole government shutdown strategy. Now that it’s over in hindsight, are you prepared to say that it was a mistake, it wasn’t the right tactic?CRUZ: I think it was absolutely a mistake for President Obama and Harry Reid to force a government shutdown.KARL: Now you know even John Boehner has said this was a Republican shutdown.CRUZ: Look, I can’t help what other people say.
Even Karl, who generally seems quite sympathetic to Republican arguments, was incredulous. Indeed, he patiently tried to explain to Cruz, “[T]he only reason why this happened is because you insisted, Republicans insisted that Obamacare be defunded as a condition of funding the government. If you didn’t, if you took away that insistence, there would be no shutdown. I mean, really.”
Cruz didn’t care – President Obama wouldn’t take health care benefits away from anyone, therefore, the Texan believes, the shutdown isn’t Republicans’ fault.
Without knowing the senator personally, it’s impossible to know whether he actually believes his own talking points, or whether he’s willing to repeat nonsense on national television, working under the assumption that Americans are ignorant rubes.
But either way, the scope of Cruz’s shutdown delusions is remarkable. The GOP senator hatched the shutdown scheme and spent the summer hosting events and lobbying like-minded lawmakers to follow his lead. Cruz urged House Republicans to ignore their own leadership and follow his instructions instead. He assured his party that the public was on their side and they wouldn’t be blamed for the fiasco.
All of this turned out to be completely and hopelessly wrong. It left Cruz with weakened credibility and deep unpopularity among his own ostensible allies.
And three months later, the senator is still convinced of his own personal righteousness, pushing the laughably silly line that the government shutdown was Democrats’ fault.
If Cruz wants to appear credible to improve his national stature, he’s pursuing a counter-productive strategy.