Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Cruz Filibuster: Aftermath

I hadn't intended to write about anything today -- my schedule for the day looks like slavery reimagined with computers and fluorescent lighting -- but this exceptional article by Michael Walsh simply compels me to add my two cents:

In the decades to come, historians may well look back on the partisan passage of Obamacare during President Obama’s first term and its disastrous implementation in the second as a Pyrrhic victory, the beginning of the end of the Progressive project to “fundamentally transform” the United States of America. Whether Senator Ted Cruz ultimately succeeds in his quest to defund Obamacare this time, his electrifying quasi-filibuster yesterday and today nevertheless marks a turning point in modern American political history — the day when conservatives turned their back on the collaborationist Republican Party and finally fought back.

It’s been a long time coming.

Walsh clarifies what he means by "the collaborationist Republican Party" by citing this scrofulous screed by McCain 2008 advisor Steve Schmidt:

Former John McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt says he has “deep regret” for helping to create a “freak show” wing of the Republican Party when he had a hand in bringing former McCain running mate Sarah Palin to the national stage.

Schmidt said Monday on MSNBC’s “Hardball” it’s time for the GOP to stand up to the “asininity” embodied by Palin and others.

“For the last couple of years, we’ve had this wing of the party running roughshod over the rest of the party. Tossing out terms like RINO saying we’re going to purge, you know, the moderates out of the party,” Schmidt said. “We’ve lost five U.S. Senate seats over the last two election cycles. And fundamentally we need Republicans, whether they’re running for president, whether they’re in the leadership of the Congress, to stand up against a lot of this asininity.”

To which Walsh's rejoinder:

Well, one man’s asininity is another man’s principles, but principles are something the PBFP [Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party -- FWP] doesn’t much understand. The only principle that counts to them is maintenance of office; long ago they realized there’s no percentage in bucking the system. Far better (for Republicans) to pretend to be “conservative” during election season — especially in the Senate — only to return to “Senate comity” once safely past the shoals of the electorate. In the winter, they’re Buddhists, in the summer they’re nudists, to quote the late Joe Gould. beyond my powers to improve upon.

That having been said, I must inject a note of caution -- realistic rather than pessimistic caution, I think -- about Cruz's prospects, and the prospects for a Constitutional revival, in the foreseeable future.

Yes, Virginia, there is a "Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party," to which a large fraction of Republicans in high office belong. And yes, the maintenance of their power, prestige, and perquisites is its members' top priority...if, indeed, they have any other priorities. This is in perfect conformance with the dynamic of political power:

In a system of unconstrained government,
Power will flow preponderantly to men who worship Power,
And who prize nothing above it.

Reread Friedrich Hayek's The Road To Serfdom, particularly the chapter titled "Why The Worst Get On Top," before you disagree.

One corollary of this dynamic is that The System -- i.e., the gaggle of insiders who constitute the ruling elite -- will be self-defending. (I almost slipped and wrote "self-cleansing," but realized in time that such a system should not be referred to as "clean" even in a technical sense.) It will have mechanisms for:

  1. Identifying enemies to its premises, priorities, and structures;
  2. Barring them at the gates;
  3. Expunging any who slip past its filters before they can do it objective damage.

However, those defenses aren't guaranteed to operate instantaneously or infallibly. They must be triggered by the perception of a credible threat; the forces they command must be marshaled and mobilized; and they must be set loose upon their target with unambiguous orders to "terminate with extreme prejudice."

This will be the case with any system that desires uncontested control of some valuable thing...and to power-mongers, nothing is more valuable than power.

Ted Cruz slipped past the first two of the PBFP's defenses. At first, he probably looked to them like an asset: an articulate, charismatic Texan of Hispanic descent who willingly aligned with the GOP. They were willing to see him rise a certain distance without hindrance. As fellow politicians, they gave him the benefit of "professional courtesy:" They assumed he was completely insincere, and could be trusted to "fall in line" with the leadership's priorities.

Their alarms didn't sound until Cruz became a viable candidate for the United States Senate.

The Republican side of the PBFP became uneasy as Cruz made plain the distance between himself and his opponent for the nomination, Lieutenant-governor David Dewhurst. Dewhurst was much more to PBFP tastes. Though Cruz won the state party's nod, the national party's support of him was tepid at best. It wouldn't be quite right to say Cruz won his seat despite the national party, but it's defensible to say he could easily have done it without them.

And so there he sits, in the United States Senate...and mirabile dictu, it develops that he really does believe everything he said on the campaign trail. He's the "real deal:" a passionate Constitutionalist conservative, willing to fight anyone on any topic, including PBFP Republicans.

Because Cruz strode into action briskly from his very first days in the Senate chamber, he's managed to make a mark even more dramatic than that of his colleague Rand Paul, whom the PBFP disdains in equal degree. Therefore, we may expect the third element of the PBFP's defenses to begin its barrage immediately. Indeed, we have the behavior of the Dishonorable John McCain (R, Himself and Only Himself) to indicate the direction in which matters will proceed from here:

(Reuters) - Senator John McCain lashed out at fellow Republican Ted Cruz on Wednesday over a Nazi appeasement comparison he made during his all-night, anti-Obamacare marathon on the U.S. Senate floor....

"I resoundingly reject" Cruz's comments, said McCain, a senior Republican and former presidential candidate.

"I think it's wrong and I think it's a disservice to those who stood up and shouted at the top of their lungs that we cannot appease and that we must act," he said.

He said the remarks were a disservice to those, including his father and grandfather, who fought in World War Two.

McCain also objected to the suggestion that Republicans who do not support Cruz's strategy were not fighting hard enough against the law, which most Republicans oppose.

A number of other commentators have already read the writing on the wall. The consensus is that "Cruz had better watch his back." I concur; the PBFP is shaken by his independence from their "leadership," understands at last that he will say and do as he thinks best regardless of contrary "advice," and will surely do what it can to destroy him before he can endanger their hegemony again.

The "politics of personal destruction" is about to come into play. Expect Cruz to receive the sort of examination that was awarded to Sarah Palin after she gained the GOP's vice-presidential nomination in 2008. Expect it to be just as vigorous, just as unsparing, and just as willing to distort and deceive. Whether Cruz will manage to stand firm against those gales, we shall soon see.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Ted is my senator. On the other hand the other senator from Texas has received emails from me stating I will work to get him defeated in primaries. A large share of Texans are firmly behind Ted Cruz and are sorely disappointed with John Cornyn.

At this time I believe Ted will be able to take the heat. The dinosaurs like McLame are on their way out. There is movement in AZ.

As my lovely wife stated. Ted Cruz appeared and had a presentation more presidential in the 21 hours he stood in the Senate than the current occupant of the WH has ever looked.

Martin McPhillips said...

I have nothing against optimism, and Michael Walsh is one of the good guys, but I'm not optimistic about prospects for Cruz or anyone from the shrinking principled side of the conservative movement. Cruz is at least able to articulate in ways that were seemingly impossible for George W. Bush (who was not a conservative anyway) and for the hapless Sarah Palin, who seems to absorb remnants of principles as she is speaking and then blurts them out exactly as though she just became familiar with them. Cruz doesn't deserve to be judged alongside her.

The fact of the matter is that we are not dealing with liberals or Democrats, but with Marxist-Leninists, led by the backwhistling slaverjake Barack Obama. These people have one principle: Power over everything in their reach and the power to increase that reach, until everything that is still nominally yours, including your children, is theirs. I know, it can't happen here, but it is happening.

Anonymous said...

Ted Cruz's efforts are in my estimation an attempt to return our nation to its founding principles... without the violent revolution part. He is simply using the tools given to us by the Constitution (see Mr. Levin's books for a great survey).

If the attack on Cruz is limited to verbal barbs and ad hominems, Cruz will succeed. He has demonstrated he can run circles around his colleagues and the MSM (pravda). Furthermore, my hunch is that he doesn't have the skeletons in his closet like Judge Roberts (my speculation here) and General Petraeus.

As Mr. McPhillips points out, of course the Marxists will stop at nothing. The probability that attacks will go beyond just words is greater than zero. I suspect that this is already incorporated into Mr. Cruz's security plans.

Rich Fader said...

Question: Which has been the more useful Republican over the last five years or so, Steve Schmidt or Sarah Palin? This is, I gently suggest, not a discussion The Bullet really wants to start.