Muller: Ted Cruz’s behavior cheap political ploy

Muller: Ted Cruzs behavior cheap political ploy

Yoni Muller, Opinion Editor

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) took part in a procedural vote to take up the budget measure that was recently passed in the House — a vote that was completely unanimous. Normally, this display of bipartisanship would be downright commendable, but there is a small caveat here regarding the context of the situation that greatly changes the situation itself.

What I mean is that this vote took place about two hours after Cruz finished a 21-hour tirade saying everything he could think of to stress the evils of this bill and how everyone must vote against the procedure to allow voting on it. (Senate rules, in a nutshell, required a vote of 60 individuals to allow the group to start debating, amending and voting on the actual bill.) That’s almost a full day in which Cruz stood on the Senate floor and declared, “Any senator who votes (to move forward with debate on the House measure) is voting to give Majority Leader Harry Reid the authority to fund Obamacare.”

So why, exactly, would a man forgo eating, drinking and using the restroom (as far as we know) to rally the troops to vote exactly the way his tirade suggested not to? Did U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) give him such a beating in that two-hour break that he returned to the floor, tail between his legs, afraid of the octogenarian’s wrath? Did he stumble on MSNBC for the first time and experience a dramatic personal epiphany?

I suspect the real motivation is something more sinister. Cruz’s name, as I previously mentioned, has popped up in regards to the 2016 presidential race. Ted would very much like to keep it that way; this stunt was, at least in his mind, a stellar way to do so.

Many within Cruz’s own party saw his move as a lost cause. As long as Democrats control both the White House and the Senate, the House bill as it stood — with the provision to defund Obamacare — would never have passed. That means Senate Republicans had two options: Pass what would undoubtedly be an amended budget bill and let House Republicans craft a more conservative compromise or try to sabotage Senate procedures long enough to force a shutdown and claim some sort of demented victory that exists only in Washington. Although Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), preferred the first course of action, Cruz embraced the latter with the passion only seen in a child shutting down his Nintendo 64 because “if I can’t win Mario Party, nobody can!”

Cruz simply never saw this as a strategy with any chance of success. Such a well-educated man certainly would have been able to figure out it only took four Republicans running out of patience to vote to proceed with the motion. The fact that he had the gall to run a 21-hour pseudo-filibuster and not even commit to what would have been a purely symbolic vote not to take up the motion shows how futile even Cruz realized his mission was.

Instead of concerning himself with petty things like results, outcomes or progress, his eye was on a much bigger prize – political points. By putting on such a spectacle, Cruz has already garnered plenty of firepower for any Republican hoping to run as a far-right candidate. Imagine an established Republican politician brandished his conservative credentials only to hear Cruz say, “Well where were you when I made the last stand against Obamacare? I put up the fight of my life, and you just gave up,” as though by virtue of hating a piece of legislation more and performing arbitrary acts to prove it, he would make a better president.

His stunt could also be seen as a clever way of shifting blame away from himself for whatever outcome lies ahead. This superficial, shallow display of conservative resistance only serves for Cruz to tell the world he fought as hard as he could. Hence, when the Senate passes its budget while ensuring funding for Obamacare, and House Republicans either blink and pass the bill, or don’t and cause a government shutdown, Cruz can pin the blame on his Republican peers in the House.

The next week is still rife with uncertainty. The government may well experience a shutdown; the House may avert it and even work out a compromise that gives conservatives some victories to take home. But one thing is certain — Ted Cruz will walk away from this in a manner that would make P. T. Barnum proud and nobody else.

Yoni Muller is a Weinberg junior. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]