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At the intersection of self-defeating and self-aggrandizing

The last time I checked, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was still on the Senate floor, taking his pointless talk-a-thon past the 16-hour mark. I don't doubt that the
At the intersection of self-defeating and self-aggrandizing
At the intersection of self-defeating and self-aggrandizing

The last time I checked, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was still on the Senate floor, taking his pointless talk-a-thon past the 16-hour mark. I don't doubt that the far-right Texan is pleased with himself -- Cruz loves both attention and the sound of his own voice, and this spectacle offers both -- though I can't help but wonder if the Republican realizes the extent to which he's undermining his own supposed cause.

Even on the surface, Cruz's marathon session is without meaningful purpose. Is he blocking a vote on a bill? No. Is he persuading skeptics to reconsider their position? No. Is he making a powerful policy argument? No, he's barely talking about policy at all. Rather, this is about Ted Cruz hosting a lengthy and high-profile celebration of Ted Cruz -- the far-right senator scripted some political theater and cast himself as his star, giving himself lines that position him as the Last Honest Man in Washington. I can only assume the senator ordered roses for himself, and left them waiting on his desk for his return, at which time he'll take a long bow in front of the largest mirror he can find.

As a New York Times editorial noted, Cruz's "combination of grandiosity and pure nastiness helps explain why the senator has become the least popular man in Washington."

But there's an under-appreciated angle to this: Cruz, whether he appreciates this or not, is engaged in the most self-defeating example of self-aggrandizement we've seen in a long while.

Senior Senate Republicans pushed Mr. Cruz on Tuesday to give up his stalling tactics and let the Senate take its final votes as soon as possible to strip out the health care language and other policy prescriptions, then approve new language to keep the government operating until mid-November. An early vote would give Speaker John A. Boehner more time to plan his next move: Whether to put the Senate-passed bill up for a vote and ensure no government shutdown or to add new Republican-favored language and send it back to the Senate.If Mr. Cruz persists and forces the Senate to exhaust the time allowed for the necessary votes, the final vote cannot happen until Sunday.

Cruz claims he's fighting the good fight in the name of nobility, doing the hard work to oppose expanded access to affordable health care because no one else will.

But if he were sincere about his policy goals, and less preoccupied with self-promotion, Cruz would realize he's hurting his own cause.

I know legislative procedure is boring, so I'll be brief: the more Cruz tries to gum up the works in the Senate, slowing down the process as long as he can, the less time the House will have to act before the shutdown deadline. In other words, the government shuts down on Monday night, and if Cruz delays Senate action until Sunday night, it will leave House Republicans with no room for counter-measures. Boehner & Co. will face a binary choice: pass the Senate bill or shut down the government.

For its part, the House Republican leadership would actually prefer to play some more foolish games.

The House Republican leadership is seriously considering attaching a one-year delay of Obamacare's individual mandate to the Senate bill to avert a government shutdown, according to senior GOP aides. [...]Several different tactics are under discussion within the top levels of House GOP leadership, and the path Republicans choose depends on several factors — chiefly the mood of rank-and-file Republicans when they return to Washington, and when the House gets the continuing resolution back from the Senate.

If the Senate were to wrap up its work, say, today, there would be time for the House to pass a rival bill, quickly send it back to the upper chamber, and tell senators, "Pass the House bill or you'll shut down the government."

And while the right may love this scenario, Cruz is making it impossible -- by stretching out the process, all the pressure will fall on the House GOP with just 24 hours left on the clock.

But don't worry, conservatives, I'm sure Cruz will have a great fundraising appeal in your mailbox any minute now.