BEDFORD: How Cruz, Lee and Paul shut down Obama’s agenda

After Republicans drifted for years without a pilot, Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have taken the helm of the GOP, steering their party and its grassroots into a much-needed, head-on battle with the Democrats.

On the campaign trail on the way to his win in November 2012, President Barack Obama promised to finish the work he’d gone to Washington to do: “fundamentally transforming the United States.” Things look tough for the right in Washington today, but the reality is these three conservative Republicans, aided by friends in the Senate and the House, have dragged the president’s ambitious agenda to a complete halt, throwing both him and Democrat Sen. Harry Reid on their heels and adding policy paralysis to the president’s long list of post-election woes.

While Republican leadership in the House was loud when scandals from Benghazi to the IRS unfolded, over the last year conventional wisdom in Washington has held that sequester would never happen; amnesty for illegal immigrants was a done deal; no sane Republican would stand against an assault-weapons ban after Sandy Hook; the GOP would bless a charge into Syria; and, well, fill in the blank: student loans? Climate change? The tea party was over and Washington, D.C. was Obama’s oyster.

But then a strange thing happened. As one by one, impossible victories were won, observers saw the policy agenda of the president — a man who won a resounding victory just months ago — stagnate and stall: He hasn’t won a single victory since his re-election. (RUSH LIMBAUGH: ‘Amen!’)

It’s almost surreal. Sequester is tentatively in place; amnesty is derailed; gun control is on the run; American forces are not involved in Syria’s civil war.

Senior Republicans are taking their cues from a couple of freshman conservatives.

After years of void, Republicans have leadership in D.C.

And after decades of void, conservatives do, too.

The new breed of conservatives won victories by shifting public opinion and navigating parliamentary procedure. Today, Cruz and Lee’s fight to defund Obamacare is deeply mired in parliamentary mumbo-jumbo, and public opinion is divided and negative across the board. In short, it is not ideal. And so long as the Democrats control the White House and the Senate, it never could be ideal. But one thing is undeniable: Their stand has lit a much-needed fire in D.C. (BEDFORD VIDEO: Obama, media, fail to summon apocalypse)

Will they defund Obamacare? No, they won’t. But they could — and they have — changed the narrative in Washington. And barring a disaster, that could change the narrative across the country on Nov. 4, 2014.

The folks who live in the world of Politico see electoral defeat hiding in the closet and Newt Gingrich’s ghost under the bed, but here’s an important question: What are Republicans so afraid of? Who is coming to get them?

The House of Representatives has turned Obama and Reid’s strategy on its head. When the president used the bully pulpit to call for Republicans to fund children with cancer, they did; when the president used the bully pulpit to call for Republicans to fund national parks, they did; when the president used the bully pulpit to call for Republicans to fund veterans, they did. All of the House’s stop-gap measures died in the Democrat’s Senate, along with scores of others.