Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R) may have had a pretty spotty track record during his time in office, but his last act – resigning in disgrace – may have been the very best thing he did. With Republican leadership suddenly in disarray, the government shutdown that Tea Party conservatives led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had been planning now seems to have gone completely off the rails. Cruz is VERY upset.
Cruz had originally planned to introduce an amendment to a government funding bill that would have – follow me here – placed a one-year ban on giving federal funds to Planned Parenthood and block the Iran nuclear deal all in one fell swoop. If those goals seemed quixotic at best, that’s because their very impossibility was the entire point. Cruz, who already has one government shutdown under his belt, planned on getting a second one, just in time for election season.
Instead of marching Washington into gridlock, a possibility that just a week ago was looking like a grim inevitability, Boehner resigned and Republicans were thrown into chaos. Cruz was forced to watch with helpless humiliation as his so-called amendmentgot shot down before his eyes.
The Texas Republican, who is running for president, was blocked from offering his amendment during a voice vote. He tried to get a roll call vote but couldn’t get the necessary support from his colleagues.
So did Cruz take the news of his unraveling government shutdown plan well? He did not.
In an hour long rant on the Senate floor, Cruz appeared so angry that he hardly managed to stick on one subject before jumping onto the next. He accused his own party, which had just thrown him under the bus, of giving into President Obama. In the process, he took as many potshots at his soon-to-be former colleague, John Boehner, as possible.
“The Speaker of the House John Boehner announced he was going to resign. There was lots of speculation on the media as to why [Boehner] resigned. Mr. President, I’m going to tell you why he resigned: It’s actually a direct manifestation of this disconnect between the voters back home and Republican leadership. Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell had promised there will be no shutdown, so therefore they will fund every single priority of Barack Obama.”
(First of all, that’s President Obama to you, Ted. It’s customary to afford the dignity of the office to the man who holds it when addressing him on the floor of the Senate – whether you personally respect him or not.)
The prime issue Cruz had was that his fellow Republicans showed a willingness to compromise with Democrats. Compromise is what most Americans say they want Congress to do, but Cruz would prefer to have things his way or not at all. Any sign of capitulation is treason in his mind. Cruz thinks the continued existence of the government he works for can and should be used as a hostage whenever possible.
While Cruz may enjoy watching the government shut down, it’s easy to see why members of the Republican leadership were freaking out about the possibility of a second one in just two years. The first shutdown may have made Cruz a household name, and an icon of the far-right, but it was a disaster for both the Republican Party (which was universally blamed) and the American people (which were universally screwed over). A second shutdown would likely get Ted Cruz a slight bump in the polls during the Republican primaries… and cost the GOP one of the worst electoral defeats in United States history.
In other words, Republicans were saving Ted Cruz’s ass by putting an end to his silly attempt to bully his way into a government shutdown. And like a child who was forced to eat his vegetables, he resents the grownups in the room for making him do it.