The game is fixed.
The Republican base is sure that the only reason their party ever loses is because they don’t fight. And when they fight, they know that the only reason they don’t win is because their “moderates” give up.
The Tea Partiers and evangelicals — who are the majority of GOP primary voters in districts Republican members of Congress represent — have been dying for a fight since the moment President Obama took office. And they’ve gotten it.
Republicans have gone to historic lengths to oppose all the president’s nominations and proposals, even after they become law. But still the base feels that their party — which is now almost entirely made up of Rush Limbaugh-worshipping ideologues who’ve pledged never to lower taxes for the rich, to overturn Roe v. Wade and to make an Al Gore joke any time the temperature drops below 50 degrees or someone says “internet” — is full of squishes.
That’s why the 2012 GOP primary turned into a contest of who could say the worst things about the president and the people who vote for him. That’s why Mitt Romney lost. He spent four years only implying Obama was a socialist. He didn’t actually say it. These “Republicans In Name Only” may threaten a global economic crisis to get rid of Obamacare, but they don’t have the Liberty Bells to actually go through with it. That’s why we lose!
And that’s why Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) returned to Iowa on Friday a conquering hero — though the only thing he’d conquered was his party’s leadership, and just for a few weeks.
He’d gotten the government shutdown he’d been demanding for months. But the “tsunami” of support for defunding Obamacare he promised if Republicans stuck together ended up crashing down on the GOP, bringing the party’s popularity to historic lows, and putting its House majority at risk.
He was greeted with a standing ovation and received uproarious applause at the Republican Party of Iowa’s annual Ronald Reagan fundraising dinner. Of course, Cruz is rewriting history for his fans in Iowa.
“We didn’t accomplish our ultimate policy goal in this battle, and we didn’t because unfortunately a significant number of Senate Republicans chose not to unite and stand side by side with House Republicans,” the junior senator from Texas said. “Had we stood together, I’m convinced the outcome of this fight would be very, very different.”
The senator wants future caucusgoers to know that the only reason that Republicans got blamed for the shutdown, and didn’t successfully crush the Affordable Care Act, is because Senate Republicans didn’t filibuster the bill to fund the government that the House never ended up voting on anyway. That or the squishes spoiled his plans by trying to negotiate after polls came out showing “jaw-dropping” negatives for the GOP. Or, perhaps, Cruz feels he was just a default away from getting what he wanted, though he chose not to trigger economic chaos by delaying the bill that opened the government.
The details don’t matter. It was the squishes’ fault, and the base agrees!
C-SPAN kept the camera on the senator as he finished his speech and mingled with the crowd.
“I wish you’d consider running with Sarah Palin,” one woman said to Cruz, who was making his third visit to Iowa in less than three months. “You’d win.”
Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum imagined last week how Cruz could win the presidency. It involved an alternate universe where the senator picks the GOP-leading “moderate” Chris Christie as his running mate and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is considered more extreme than Cruz.
Any fantasy in which Ted Cruz becomes the next president should include the magical repeal of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote — and not just because he could be possibly facing Hillary Clinton, or just because he’s so far to the right on reproductive issues that he considers birth control an “abortifacient.”
The gender gap that was part of what cost Romney the presidency would become a gender gulch.
After the shutdown, a majority of women feel that it’s a bad thing Republicans control the House — something the pollster employed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) warned would happen months ago.
“By taking such a hard line on this topic, the party reinforced negative perceptions of extremism and unwillingness to compromise,” said Darrell M. West of the Brookings Institution. “Fiery rhetoric helps with the base but does a poor job reaching out to young people and women.”
But reaching out is for squishes. The purer the GOP becomes — the fewer moderates it attracts — the more immune Cruz is to criticism and the better his chances of being the 2016 nominee.
That woman who paid a minimum of $100 to hear Cruz speak Friday night can see the Cruz/Palin ticket already. Their slogan?
“We Never Give In — Unless We Get a Great Fox News Contract.”
Photo: Patrick Feller via Flickr