Having failed to co-opt Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Republican permanent political class in Washington, D.C. may wage war on him after the midterm elections.
Wall Street donors may stop giving money to him and groups that support him. Party leaders may take committee assignments away from the Texas senator who is revered by the conservative grassroots that put GOP leaders back in power.
According to Time magazine, “now that primary season is almost over, some establishment Republicans are looking for retribution” against Cruz, who recently just crushed the Texas GOP presidential straw poll and has been calling out Obama for his lawlessness. Cruz has also held the Republican establishment, which lost control of the government last decade by spending like Democrats, to account. And they do not like him for doing so.
Kyle Downey, “a former GOP Senate leadership aide,” whined about how Cruz cannot be trusted because he did not actively campaign for moderate establishment Republican incumbents that the base loathes. Cruz also did not campaign against them either this election cycle, which is a concession Downey conveniently does not make. Time also quotes a “former GOP Senate leadership aide” who did not go on the record saying Cruz will “largely be marginalized” in the Senate like Jesse Helms.
Establishment Republican consultant John Feehery, who has trashed conservatives like Mark Levin and carried water for the Republican establishment in the mainstream media and liberal networks like MSNBC, told Time‘s Jay Newton Small that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) should retaliate against Cruz like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has done against Tea Partiers.
“If Cruz votes against McConnell and decides he’s not going to be caucusing with Republicans, kicking him off all his committees is an obvious move,” Feehery told Time. “This is how [House Speaker John] Boehner is thinking about punishing those who vote against him speaker: no committee assignments and make sure that they get no money…”
Feehery, sounding like he is auditioning for groups that want to “turn Texas blue, said Cruz could even face difficulties getting re-elected in 2018.
“Lyndon Johnson once said he’d rather have people inside the tent pissing out. But [Cruz] seems to be inside the tent pissing in,” he sniped.
Feehery has supported Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey and favored Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio. He works at a lobbying firm founded by a Bill Clinton adviser who persuaded Clinton to infamously pardon Marc Rich.
It is also worth noting that Feehery worked for former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-IL), whom Rush Limbaugh has described a “sweetly irrelevant” pushover who was the “most compliant loser on the face of the earth.” And perhaps that is where Feehery got his love of wanting to be loved by the permanent political establishment for rolling over.
Michel, the lovable loser, was infamous for telling freshman Republicans, “Every day I wake up, I look in the mirror, and I say to myself, ‘Today you’re going to be a loser.’ And after you’re here awhile [freshmen], you’ll start to feel the same way. But don’t let it bother you. You’ll get used to it.'”
Limbaugh said Michel believed “there was no way he was ever gonna win anything, so he never even tried.”
“He just accepted the role of minority, and they loved it, but Democrats loved this guy, he never opposed them, he never said a word,” Limbaugh said. “By the way, when we hear about civility in politics, that’s what the Democrats mean. We’ve lost the civility, we’ve lost the days of good old Bob Michel who’d go to dinner with us, and he’d never demand to know what we were going to do in legislation.”
One freshman who “refused to get used to it, and instead spent ten years methodically recruiting and training his own private army,” was Newt Gingrich, who led Republicans in the historic 1994 Contract with America election that gave the GOP control of the House for the first time in 40 years.
Ted Cruz is no Bob Michel. And in many ways, Cruz is a more disciplined Gingrich. Cruz, like Gingrich used C-SPAN over three decades ago, is using social media to go over the heads of the mainstream press and the Washington establishment to speak directly to conservatives and rally them against an ossifying Republican establishment. Cruz, with his Harvard and Princeton pedigree, can fight for conservatives in that world better than Gingrich. And he can also partake in their rituals, as evidenced by Cruz’s Gridiron speech that reportedly impressed even his fiercest detractors.
And though Time portrays the Tea Party as “losing ground” because it has failed to topple incumbents who veered to the right this year, the movement’s influence is hardly fading. As even mainstream media journalist Matthew Cooper observed in Newsweek, the Tea Party’s losses this particular election cycle “shouldn’t be viewed as a diminishment of conservative fervor or a harbinger that the Tea Party is in the mood to nominate” moderate candidates like Jeb Bush or Chris Christie, the two politicians that Wall Street donors favor.
Not only are conservatives not as powerless as they were in Michel’s day, but they also have more ways to go around the mainstream media and political establishment’s filters with the proliferation of new media outlets.
Former South Carolina Senator and current Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint led the charge against the GOP D.C. establishment. He shifted the playing field in favor of conservatives by opposing moderate Senate candidates like Charlie Crist that the Senate GOP establishment wanted to anoint. And DeMint said it may not be the best idea for the GOP to seek “retribution” against Cruz.
“As the leadership knows that can cut both ways, if the Republican leadership drives a wedge between outside conservative groups and the establishment rather than try and bring them together, I think you’ll see grassroots fundraising dry up for the party,” DeMint told Time.
If the GOP establishment wages war against cruz, Conservative voters may also just decide to sit at home and not vote, which would be more damaging than their withholding small-dollar donations.