If there were any doubt the government shutdown and debt ceiling standoff in Washington have been a political shot to the jugular for lawmakers, look no further than the recent Houston Chronicle piece, entitled: "Why we miss Kay Bailey Hutchison."
In it, the paper's editorial staff laments its reluctant endorsement given last year to Hutchison's successor, Tea Party rabble rouser Sen. Ted Cruz. They write:
"When we endorsed Ted Cruz in last November's general election, we did so with many reservations and at least one specific recommendation--that he follow Hutchison's example in his conduct as a senator. Obviously, he has not done so. Cruz has been part of the problem in specific situations where Hutchison would have been part of the solution. We feel certain she would have worked shoulder to shoulder with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in crafting a workable solution that likely would have avoided the government shutdown altogether. But we'll never know."
Since the shutdown began at the beginning of the month over a budget impasse, congressional Republicans have braved cratering poll numbers and mounting outrage all in the name of their commitment to the obstruction of Obamacare. Among the senators tethered to this strategy, none have carried the banner more proudly than Cruz, who has marched against closed war memorials and staged day-long talk-a-thons against the president's signature health care law.
Now, with hours to go until Congress hits the deadline to raise the debt limit, Cruz told reporters he does not intend to delay a Senate vote to avert a U.S. default. But it may already be too late for his reputation.
"Right wingers like Cruz have already done the U.S. irreparable damage all over the world," said Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders on MSNBC Wednesday. "I think it will take years for us to recover from this fiasco."