Ted Cruz does not care about you, Republican "grown-ups"

Professional conservatives suddenly realize that a superstar senator doesn't want to help their movement

Published August 2, 2013 12:29PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Adrees Latif)
(Reuters/Adrees Latif)

A small contingent of the more Tea Party-ish Republican senators has decided to shut down the government unless "Obamacare" is "defunded." (Or, at least, they plan to threaten to shut down the government.) Defunding Obamacare is not really as simple as it sounds. The ACA involves a lot of "mandatory" as opposed to "discretionary" spending, so you can't really effectively repeal the program through the Continuing Resolution. (Here's Karl Rove explaining the issue.) The plan was Sen. Mike Lee's (R-Utah) idea, but its current most vocal proponent is Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a very smart man who purposefully talks like a very crazy man, because he understands how to become a celebrity in the modern conservative movement.

Cruz doesn't care if the plan makes sense, either as policy or even as political tactics. If he cared about passing conservative legislation, he wouldn't spend all of his time purposefully angering his Republican colleagues. If he cared about the Republican Party's national image and reputation, as opposed to his own image within the conservative activist community, he would have offered rhetorical support for immigration reform, as Rand Paul did. Cruz is in it for himself and himself alone. A majority of Americans want the GOP to be more conciliatory and moderate. A majority of Republicans strongly believe that the party must be even more conservative.

So if all the "grown-ups" -- the respectable, professional Republicans -- tell Ted Cruz not to do something, he is going to be even more dedicated to doing that thing. This week, all the respectable, professional Republicans told Ted Cruz not to try to shut down the government over Obamacare.

Karl Rove said it, in a Fox News editorial. His argument is that no matter how awful Obamacare is, a shutdown will hurt the party. He is correct. (The important point about Rove is that he is a professional liar, but he is one whose motivation -- helping the Republican Party win and hold on to as much power as possible -- is sincere.) But Cruz doesn't care about the party.

Jennifer Rubin -- who has clearly detested Cruz for a while now -- has been relentless in her attacks on Cruz and his shutdown caucus. This has actually been a tad inconvenient, because one of Rubin's favorite pols right now is Marco Rubio, who supports the Lee/Cruz plot. Rubin has done her best to dissuade him.

Charles Krauthammer called the Lee and Cruz plan "nuts" and "yet another cliff dive as a show of principle and manliness." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, who has an opinion column in the Washington Post for some utterly unfathomable reason, is similarly opposed.

To all these critics, the only reasonable response is, hope you enjoy this bed you made for yourselves. Ted Cruz is the right man for the decadent decline stage of the conservative movement, which has always encouraged the advancement of fact-challenged populist extremists, but always with the understanding that they'd take a back seat to the sensible business interests when it came time to exercise power. The result has been a huge number of Republican activists who couldn't figure out why the True Conservatives they kept voting for kept failing to achieve the creation of the perfect conservative state once in office. That led to an ongoing backlash against everyone in the party suspected of anything less than perfect ideological purity. Meanwhile all the crazies got rich simply for being crazy. There's no longer any compelling reason, in other words, not to act like Ted Cruz, and the result is Ted Cruz.

And if Ted Cruz is reading, all of these columns are only going to strengthen his resolve. Just look at this amazing conservative Facebook image macro shared by Gawker's Max Read: Cruz is in the company of batshit far-right folk heroes like Allen West and Oliver North, people revered as much because of the disdain they inspire in both liberals and professional conservatives as for their actual beliefs or accomplishments.

Ted Cruz just won the Colorado Christian University 2016 straw poll and he will be a featured guest at Erick Erickson's "RedState Gathering." It's working. Your "logic" won't interest him.

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Healthcare Reform Jennifer Rubin Karl Rove Obamacare Opening Shot Republican Party Ted Cruz U.s. Senate