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Ted Cruz’s Two Front War: Cowardly GOPers and a Dumbed-Down MSM

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After Friday morning’s  column and Friday’s opening monologue on GOP attacks on Ted Cruz, I was ready to press Huffington Post reporter Sabrina Siddiqui on her piece, co-authored with Ryan Grim, on the Beltway Republicans slagging Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

The transcript of our chat will be posted here when it is available, but the perfunctory questions for a first-time guest led us off on a tangent wherein Ms. Siddiqui candidly owned up to not knowing who Alger Hiss was. (Shades of Karen Finney.)  The 2008 graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern has read The Looming Tower –bonus points for her– but it simply stunning that major outlets employ young journalists who don’t know major figures of the post-war era, especially when Ted Cruz is so often compared to Joe McCarthy by lefty crazies.  This bodes ill for getting any serious coverage about simple issues, much less Obamacare, out of journalists under 30, and most journalists these days are just that -under 30.  If they don’t even have the basics of American history down, how in the world are they going to cover something as complicated as the American healthcare implosion brought about by Obamacare?  Care to guess how many of the “front line” reporters have read Clayton Christenson’s The Innovator’s Prescription or even just Atul Gawande’s pieces in the New Yorker?  How many know Anthem Blue Cross has exited the California small business market, that Ohio individual premiums are skyrocketing, that UPS is dumping spouses from their employee coverage?  My guess is that if you got out of journalism school not knowing about the Pumpkin Patch Papers, you aren’t going to be digging deep into the details of the Obamacare meltdown. The stories aren’t connected.  The work ethic is.

My main point with Ms. Siddiqui is that her piece cited as Cruz’s critics “[o]ne GOP aide,” “one GOP operative allied with House leadership,” “one senior House Republican leadership source,” and “[a]nother senior House GOP aide –thus empowered cowards who could be climbers, hangers-on, or mouthpieces for any number of actual elected leadership trying hard to advance or damage any number of careers.

This isn’t journalsim.  It is gossip-mongering, and it is intended to wound a rising star by the jealous and the left-behind.

Some pundits boldly go where no senior House aide much less senior GOP congressman dare to go —into print under a byline, like my pal Jen Rubin.  Jen’s wrong on this one, very wrong, unerestimating what Cruz, Mike Lee, Ran Paul and Marco Rubio have done in banking for future mobilization the names and contributions of hundreds of thousands if not millions of activists.  As my chat with Karl Rove yesterday made clear, GOP data operations need many, many mobilization efforts of the sort this drama is activating and collecting.  It is the accumulation of networks of activists that will spell victory in 2014 and beyond.

But Jen signs her names to her pieces, putting her light years ahead on the moral courage rankings than almost all GOP electeds and their aides.

But she is wrong, and it is because she is thinking about the next three weeks and not the next three years.

The second, crucial advantage of forcing the Senate to act on a stripped-of-Obamacare funding bill is that it will oblige six endangered democratic incumbents to take positions on Obamacare just before it crashes into the American economy –Begich of Alaska, Hagan of North Carolina, Landrieu of Louisiana, Pryor of Arkansas, Shaheen of New Hampshire, Udall of Colorado.  Either they will vote to break the filibuster in order to revive Obamacare funding or they will vote with Cruz and company.  They will either thus double down on Obamacare 11 months before voting on their re-elections begins or they will flip flop on their decisive votes from 2009.  Each one of them is 100% responsible for Obamacare.  I hope to hear their names brought up in many speeches by GOPers in next weeks floor debates.

Many Beltway Republicans sneer at such tactics –foremost among them Bob Corker, the subject of most of my opening monologue Friday (posted by Mediaite) on the subject because of a personal, snide attack on Ted Cruz via tweet.  Corker barely climbed into the Senate in 2006, and needed every conservative vote and push –including lots of talk radio help and lots of party regular support.  Now, seven years into a thus-far forgettable Senate career Corker feels empowered to trash a young senator who has accomplished more in six months than he did in six years.  Jealousy is not so often so openly displayed.  The epitome of class, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, must be chagrined by the antics of his seat mate, especially as the former governor and Education Secretary is working overtime to keep the Tea party GOP on his side, and because he has been a gentleman all of his very significant career. (Full disclosure: I was a big Lamar fan and supporter in 1996.) What has happened to Bob Corker is hard to say, but six years pass quickly.  It will be interesting if a President Cruz chooses to forgive and forget when Senator Corker asks for som help in his re-elect in 2018.

President Cruz?  Not likely, but possible.  One of 11 will be the GOP nominee.  Cruz is on that list.  See the Rove transcript for the other ten.  Insult future nominees at your peril.  Even if they don”t run much less win, the base knows and the base doesn’t forget. GOP Congressman Michael Grimm –an apparently good guy and Marine I’d never ever heard of until today– is out and about trashing Cruz today.  Not a good strategy for gaining national support in a tough re-election race.  Who advises these guys?  Elmo?  Kos?

The hyperbolic attacks on Cruz from lefty extremists who fear his eloquence and his ability to mobilize and motivate are understandable, but the intensely personal, blind-sides from within his party –allegedly for general, not specific or personal attacks on the round-heeled– are a symptom of a deep problem within the Beltway GOP, which is that it wishes above all to keep its perks and not do anything that might draw conservative challengers in primaries.  That is easy enough to do.  All it requires is conservative votes, not even conservative wins. But many freshmen and sophomores fear their own shadows and want only to be kept from having to make tough votes.  Really?  That’s wht you wanted to be a member of Congress?

The GOP-led House has done close to zip this year, the exception being Paul Ryan’s budget.  The House GOP passed by an effort to repeal the Medical Device Tax earlier this year, and then failed to produce a quick response to the Senate mangled immigration bill.  There doesn’t appear to be any end-game or any energy in the Conference, much less a communications strategy in the House, and so Cruz, Lee, Paul and Rubio have stepped up and supplied one.  Bravo for them.  It is at best unseemly for back benchers in either House to blast the only figures who have produced signs of life within the national party.

Agreement on tactics, priorities, even arguments isn’t necessary.  Cohesion as to whom is the opponent is.  Divide the opposition.  Unite your side. Don’t attack people with “Rs” behind the name, even if you don’t like their choices.  Period.

“No friend has ever done me a favor, nor enemy an injury, that I have not repaid in full” was on the Roman dictator’s Sulla’s tomb.

Something for every elected GOP, and their uncontrolled staffs, to remember.



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