Ted Cruz’s “aw shucks” act is wearing thin.
The Republican senator from Texas likes to pretend he is above the fray of Washington bickering, focused on large issues and too big to engage in character assassination.
But the reality is that Cruz is the Republican king of nasty attacks. He explodes rhetorical nuclear bombs on his opponents, only to feign outrage when his victims respond in kind, or in many cases, with relative spitballs.
Take his defund Obamacare effort. The tactic to eliminate President Obama’s health care law had zero prospect of success, which Cruz undoubtedly knew despite what he sold the conservative grassroots. Nonetheless, Cruz and his allies declared that anyone who didn’t join them in their legislative Charge of the Light Brigade in effect supported Obamacare and were part of the Republican “Surrender Caucus.”
“I am perpetually frustrated by what seems to be the ‘Surrender Caucus’ in the Congress, the group that just wants to give in,” Cruz said on Sean Hannity’s radio show July 25, “the group that just want us to give in and who say, well, President Obama will never give in on his top priority. Well, why is it that he gets to hold his principles, and it’s assumed that we have to roll over, when the American people are with us?”
By Cruz’s definition, Republican senators like Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and congressmen like Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, two of the staunchest opponents of Obamacare from the very beginning, are actually de facto supporters of the president’s health care law. Why? Because they live in reality and understand that Obamacare can’t be defunded while Democrats control the Senate and the presidency.
When Cruz started to be criticized for pushing his impossible strategy, he acted like he couldn’t imagine why his fellow Republicans would dare say a nasty word about him.
“Let’s be clear on the intraparty fight: I have not said an ill word about any of my colleagues,” Cruz said on Laura Ingraham’s show July 31, denying he ever used the term “Surrender Caucus,” perhaps not knowing radio shows are recorded for posterity. “I have not said an ill word about any of my colleagues, and they have said some pretty nasty words about me.”
Not only did Cruz use the term to describe Republicans who questioned his Defund effort, but so did his chief of staff, who Cruz tried to throw under the bus in the Ingraham interview.
Then there was Cruz’s 21-hour speech on the Senate floor in which he compared those who opposed his Defund strategy to — wait for it — Nazi appeasers.
“If we go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany — look, we saw it in Britain. Neville Chamberlain told the British people: Accept the Nazis. Yes, they will dominate the continent of Europe, but that is not our problem. Let’s appease them. Why? Because it can’t be done. We cannot possibly stand against them,” he said.
“In America there were voices who listened to that; I suspect the same pundits who said it couldn’t be done. If this had happened in the 1940s, we would have been listening to them. Even then they would have made television. They would have gotten beyond the carrier pigeons and letters and they would have been on TV saying: You cannot defeat the Germans.”