It was the best of the Senate, it was the worst of the Senate…
Two breakout stars have already emerged from the freshman class of the U.S. Senate of 2013.
Both Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have demonstrated the ability to make news with just the power of their rhetoric and their ability to effortlessly infuriate their political opponents. And both senators are trying to aim their message at the same disaffected group of Americans who have seen little or no evidence of a recovery: the middle class.
Cruz, speaking to Republican donors in New York last week, picked one of the middle class’ favorite heels — Mitt Romney — as a way to illustrate his strategy for broadening the Republican Party.
“I am going to suggest that the last election can be explained in two words: 47 percent,” Cruz said, referencing the secretly recorded video of Romney, showing the former Massachusetts governor disdainfully insisting to donors that certain voters “will vote for the president no matter what” because they “believe that they are victims.”
“The national narrative of the last election was the 47 percent of Americans who are not currently paying income taxes, who are in some ways dependent on government, we don’t have to worry about them,” he said. “That was what was communicated in the last election. I have to tell you as a conservative I cannot think of an idea more opposite to what I believe. I think Republicans are and should be the party of the 47 percent.”
He then went on to explain that he liked Romney’s “You built that! slogan but thought it should have been “You can build it!” echoing what has always been the subtext of trickle-down economics and fraternity hazing: You’re going to enjoy being on top, so hook your betters up!
After his speech, Cruz was asked by Capital New York‘s Reid Pillifant why he stood with the 20 percent of Americans who oppose broadening background checks. The junior senator from Texas then demonstrated why he is a very skillful demagogue.
“What the legislation that the Democrats pushed in the Senate would have done is extended the existing background check system, which right now applies to any sales from a federally licensed firearms dealer to private citizens,” he said.
The Manchin-Toomey amendment extends background checks to online sales and gun shows. It — to the dismay of many activists — excludes sales between private citizens. Cruz then used this false premise to offer a lie he’s told over and over, that passing that amendment would lead to the Justice Department establishing a registry of all gun owners, which to NRA types is the sum of all fears: The government will know who is armed and will inevitably come for their guns the way conservative talk radio hosts pretend Hitler did.