Ted Cruz trolls America: Why his new lecture on responsible governance = real chutzpah

Senate's most prominent buffoonish reactionary says Obama just needs to learn to compromise. Here's why it's nuts

Published November 20, 2014 11:58AM (EST)

  (Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)
(Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)

Ted Cruz is deeply concerned about President Obama’s proposals for executive action on immigration and the havoc they might wreak on the governing process. In an Op-Ed for Politico, the junior senator from Texas does his best to channel the incoherent rage of a Tea Party Facebook rant, writing that “if he acts by executive diktat, President Obama will not be acting as a president, he will be acting as a monarch.” The Founding Fathers certainly didn’t want that, he adds, which is why they created a system of government based on the inviolate principle of compromise.

According to Ted Cruz:

Thankfully, the framers of our Constitution, wary of the dangers of monarchy, gave the Congress tools to rein in abuses of power. They believed if the President wants to change the law, he cannot act alone; he must work with Congress.

He may not get everything he wants, but the Constitution requires compromise between the branches.

A monarch, however, does not compromise. As Alexander Hamilton explains in Federalist 69, a monarch decrees, dictates, and rules through fiat power, which is what President Obama is attempting.

OK … there’s more of the Op-Ed to explore and I will get to that in a moment, but let’s stop right here and appreciate what we are looking at. Ted Cruz is chastising Barack Obama for not respecting the fact that the act of governing is a series of compromises. That’s amazing.

I point this out because Ted Cruz was elected to the Senate in 2012 by literally promising that he would never compromise with anyone ever. “If you’re looking for an established moderate who will go to Washington and work across the aisle and compromise,” Cruz told some local Republicans on the campaign trail, “I’m not the guy.” He lashed out at David Dewhurst, his opponent for the nomination, as a likely compromiser on the Affordable Care Act and other issues. “Nobody looking at David Dewhurst’s record in the Texas legislature can doubt for a moment that he would run, not walk, to the middle to those advocating compromise in the Senate,” Cruz told reporters.

When he actually got to the Senate, Cruz said that “compromise” was for jerks and a bad way to govern: “I don’t think what Washington needs is more compromise, I think what Washington needs is more common sense and more principle.”

To that end, when his legislative body came together and compromised in order to pass a bill dealing specifically with the issue of undocumented immigration, Ted Cruz opposed it. In order to make sure that this rare flash of compromise would lead to nothing, Cruz set about turning his wayward Republican Senate colleagues against immigration reform. Then he took his talents to the House, undermining John Boehner at every turn and galvanizing House conservatives against passing any immigration legislation. It’s hard to think of someone who’s been more committed to sabotaging any sort of immigration compromise than Ted Cruz.

Obama “may not get everything he wants, but the Constitution requires compromise between the branches,” Cruz writes. Obama’s not getting everything he wants – he wanted to sign the Senate bill, which would have been a compromise between the branches, which is exactly what Ted Cruz says should happen.

As for what Cruz plans to do to force Obama to accept the compromise model of governance (which, remember, Ted Cruz hates), he has some ideas. One is to shut down the nominations process entirely, except for “vital national security positions,” until Obama agrees to end “the illegal amnesty.” His other idea is a Ted Cruz special: shutting down the government.

Additionally, the new Congress should exercise the power of the purse by passing individual appropriations bills authorizing critical functions of government and attaching riders to strip the authority from the president to grant amnesty.

Cruz, of course, says that any shutdown that arises from this would be Obama’s fault, because no one likes to be blamed for the massive, painful disruption that a shutdown would cause. But on this point too, Cruz is a bit inconsistent. He blamed the last shutdown on the president as well, saying “it was absolutely a mistake for President Obama and Harry Reid to force a government shutdown.” But he’s also taken credit for that very same shutdown and cast it as a smashing success for him and his party: “We elevated the national debate over what a disaster, what a train wreck, how much Obamacare is hurting millions of Americans across the country.”

Anyway, threats to sabotage the nominations process and shut down the government set the stage for dramatic showdowns between the two branches, something Cruz acknowledges and bemoans. “These confrontations are not desirable,” he writes. That’s an absurd assessment of the situation, given that Ted Cruz’s stated reason for existence is to provoke exactly these sorts of confrontations with Barack Obama. He’s the living embodiment of the GOP’s rightward slide into obdurate, irrational obstructionism pursued simply for the sake of it. And for this clownish reactionary to drape himself in the mantle of responsible governance and lecture anyone else on the virtues of compromise is galling beyond measure.

By Simon Maloy

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