If you think about it, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) did nothing.
Sure, he spent the summer ginning up support for his “Defund Obamacare” charade, giving cover to and making alliances with the House Republican Suicide Caucus. But when it comes to actual obstruction, he fit his fake filibuster into a conveniently empty time slot. He and his boy wonder, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), used their power to block unanimous consent of the late-September Senate bill that would have funded the government — but only for 24 hours. That left the House plenty of time to pass it. Instead, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) refused to even put the Senate’s bill up for a vote, knowing Cruz would blast him if he did so… and the government shut down.
Last week, Cruz could have delayed the bill that reopened the government and raised the debt limit for 24 hours.
But he didn’t.
Why? This would have led to a breach of the debt ceiling, the beginnings of a default and genuine Wall Street freakout.
He didn’t do this for a pretty simple reason: He wants another shutdown or debt limit crisis, soon.
If he took one step further, the immediate consequences of his brinksmanship wouldn’t help his effort to do it again, and possibly again after that.
Cruz’s willingness to threaten another crisis is insanity to many leaders of the Republican Party. The shutdown took the bulletproof vest off their House majority and has already made 15 seats more likely to swing to the Democrats, according to the venerable Cook Political Report.
But you know the truth: While the shutdown was an obvious disaster for the Republican Party, it was a bonanza for Cruz and his wealthy anti-goverment allies.
It was a bonanza when it comes to fundraising and making him the leader of the far right of the Republican Party. Why would he give up now, with the 2016 GOP primary getting closer every day? Do you think Ted Cruz is worried about hurting the Republican Party’s “brand?”
“There’s an old saying that, ‘Politics, it ain’t beanbag.’” the junior senator from Texas told ABC News’ Jon Karl in an interview that aired Sunday. “And, you know, I’m not serving in office because I desperately needed 99 new friends in the U.S. Senate.”
As a half-dozen people have pointed out on Twitter, Cruz is now the archetypal reality-show villain who feels the need to justify shameless behavior by explaining, “I’m not here to make friends.”
Cruz’s relentless angling to make himself the breakout star of the Senate reality show does have a benefit for Republicans: It makes their successes at rolling back government services and slowing the economic recovery by forcing the Democrats to accept brutal cuts seem moderate.