Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) promised the Republican Party a fight — and he gave them a show.
Cruz thrilled the Republican base with some absurd Nazi references and by humbly comparing his effort with the Bataan Death March — while enraging the Republican Party’s donor class.
Observers are debating whether the junior senator technically engaged in a filibuster of the bill he encouraged House Republicans to pass after it was stripped of the language that would defund Obamacare.
It’s worth pointing out that Cruz didn’t actually filibuster, because that would have required him to have the support at least 41 senators from his own party. He doesn’t. What he had was a negotiated window of time (that he gave up an hour of so he could go on the Rush Limbaugh Show) in which he was able to make a spectacle and thus not get the blame when his plot to stop Obamacare fails. Or, if he’s successful, he’ll have intimidated House Republicans into rejecting their altered bill and actually shutting down the government.
Here are five of the most comical moments from Ted Cruz’s “filibuster” that should go down — way, way down — in history.
Reading Green Eggs and Ham
Unlike Texas state senator Wendy Davis (R-Fort Worth) during her actual filibuster, Ted Cruz wasn’t required to stick to any particular subject. So he read Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham to his kids.
The junior senator didn’t seem to get that the story is about someone who is dogmatically opposed to something for what turns out to be no good reason whatsoever. Dr. Seuss — a lifelong liberal, pro-choicer and New Deal Democrat who used his work to spread his progressive ideals — might have appreciated the irony.
Words of Wisdom from Duck Dynasty
The Ivy League-educated Cruz spoke directly to the Republican base by invoking the right’s favorite reality show, Duck Dynasty, where self-professed “rednecks” celebrate eating pigs’ feet and growing beards.
“It’s who we are,” Cruz said.
Republicans have reportedly been trying to convince one of the stars of the show, Willie Robertson, to run for Congress. He has declined, but his family’s wisdom is now in the congressional record.
Getting Star Wars Wrong
The senator compared himself to the rebellion fighting the Empire in the Star Wars movies. In his analogy, Washington, D.C. isn’t listening to the American people. In reality, only 38 percent of America supports defunding, to 44 percent who oppose it. Opposition skyrockets to 59 percent if defunding requires a government shutdown.
Also, the Empire wasn’t elected in two landslides. And it wasn’t trying to provide working people with health insurance.
The Gospel of Ayn Rand
Senator Cruz read the works of the far right’s favorite atheist, Ronald Reagan-hating pro-choicer Ayn Rand, implicitly criticizing his Republican colleagues who aren’t willing to join his unpopular quest to shut down the government.
Republicans can still listen to Cruz and Rand — who ended her life on Medicare and collecting Social Security — and launch a real filibuster of the bill that funds the government.
The Gospel of Ashton Kutcher
America’s right wing has fallen in love with actor Ashton Kutcher ever since the former That 70s Show star gave a speech in praise of working hard. The implication, of course, is that Democrats don’t. So every conservative who makes a living talking or typing has made a point of celebrating the actor, as did Ted Cruz during his silly-buster.
But Cruz’s implication that Obamacare doesn’t encourage work ignores the fact that by expanding Medicaid up to 138 percent of the poverty level and awarding tax credits to those earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level, the program allows Americans to rise out of poverty while still being able to afford insurance. The current system Cruz is defending actually incentivizes Americans to not work and remain poor.
If you enjoyed those highlights, here’s a random sampling of Cruz to get a taste of the absurdity of the senator’s ploy.