Congress has kicked the can down the road for a couple of months until the next round of full-faith-and-credit brinksmanship. Ted Cruz, the freshman senator from Texas, maintained his cherished ideological purity by voting against increasing the debt limit and reopening the federal government -- this time without obstructing the effort to head off a default.
His failed gambit to defund the Affordable Care Act paid off for him -- if no one else -- in that he has endeared himself even more to the Tea Party. Everyone in America knows his name, even if most of them realize he is the driving force behind a quixotic quest that had no endgame and zero chance of success. But his colleagues are emptying both barrels at him now to any reporter who will listen, blasting what they characterize as a pointless, self-aggrandizing exercise in divisiveness. Republicans, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, have never been so unpopular.
We should note, however, that Cruz failed only if he actually believed he could defund Obamacare with Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate. As far as fundraising goes, it's been a smashing success. In the third quarter ending in September, his joint fundraising organ, the Ted Cruz Victory Committee, took in $800,000. Who knows how much it raised during the shutdown?
Many in his own party haven't fared so well as they watch their collective approval numbers sink. Here are a few of most searing verbal spankings, administered to Cruz not by the opposition, but by his own team:
New York Representative Peter King: "I think it's important for Republican leaders around the country to speak out against him and neutralize him. Otherwise he's going to start the same nonsense again in December or January. He's the guy that caused this, he's the guy who is a fraud because he never had a strategy to begin with. And if we let him do it again, it's our fault."
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer: "How exactly was he going to achieve abolition of Obamacare? Explain that to me. Has he ever explained it?"
An unnamed GOP senator, because speaking against Cruz has its price: "It's pretty evident it's never been about a strategy -- it's been about him. That's unfortunate. I think he's done our country a major disservice. I think he's done Republicans a major disservice."
Uber conservative tax reformer Grover Norquist: "I think it was very possible for us to delay the implementation of Obamacare for a year until Cruz came along and crashed and burned."
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New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte: "We've been asking from the beginning, what's the endgame?"
GOP strategist John Feehery: "This isn't about legislating. It's about being in the center of things."
The Houston Chronicle, which endorsed Cruz: "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."
My favorite, from GOP strategist Alex Castellanos: "The snowshoe hare -- I thought it's a marvelous explanation -- every 10 years, multiplies sixfold. Bunnies like sex apparently. But the boom produces a bust. They press their food supply, they invite predators. Right now, Ted Cruz, what's he's doing, feels good. He's growing his supporters. It's leading the Republican Party, I think, into a bust."