Left-wing Politico, in its latest attempt to scuttle burgeoning Republican momentum on the government shutdown, has launched an all-out hit piece on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), completely with anonymous quotes from a Republican senator. The title: “Government shutdown 2013: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) blasted by angry GOP colleagues.”
The narrative over the past two days has shifted dramatically from the danger of a government shutdown to the Obama administration’s cynical manipulation of the shutdown, closing down war memorials to vets and insisting on zero negotiations. The continuing collapse of the Obamacare exchanges also provides a secondarily difficult front for the Obama media to fight. And on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) created yet a third front for Democrats to fight against, asking “Why would we want” to help one child with cancer.
Politico’s strategy is to misdirect away from this triple threat – shutdown overreach, Obamacare, and Democratic intransigence – by demonizing Cruz, who led off the anti-Obamacare effort with his defund Obamacare 21-hr. extravaganza last week. Politico’s piece suggests that Cruz is to blame for this whole situation, and quotes unnamed Republicans to that effect. “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) faced a barrage of hostile questions Wednesday from angry GOP senators, who lashed the Texas tea party freshman for helping prompt a government shutdown crisis without a strategy to end it,” writes Manu Raju. Raju then quoted “sources” relating the events of a meeting today with Cruz, in which “Republican after Republican pressed Cruz to explain how he would propose to end the bitter budget impasse with Democrats, according to senators who attended the meeting.” Raju added, “A defensive Cruz had no clear plan to force an end to the shutdown — or explain how he would defund Obamacare, as he has demanded all along.” Cruz reportedly told conservative colleagues he would not dissociate from the Senate Conservatives Fund attacks on GOP senators.
The article goes on to quote one senator – unnamed – stating, “It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have a strategy – he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was….It’s pretty evident it’s never been about a strategy – it’s been about him. That’s unfortunate. I think he’s done our country a major disservice. I think he’s done Republicans a major disservice.”
It’s no surprise to see certain senators ripping Cruz. Cruz isn’t popular with a certain contingent of the Republican Party led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who famously labeled Cruz’s wing of the conservatism “wacko birds.” And it’s no surprise to see the media taking advantage, attempting to craft a wedge in the party to destroy any unity in standing up to the Obama administration’s obsession with upholding every aspect of Obamacare.
Cruz responded to the anonymous comments by directing the conversation back toward the government shutdown and Obamacare, telling Politico, “It seems that there is nothing the media likes to cover more than disagreements among Republicans, and apparently some senators are content to fuel those stories with anonymous quotes. Regardless, my focus — and, I would hope, the focus of the rest of the conference — is on stopping Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’s shutdown, ensuring that vital government priorities are funded, and preventing the enormous harms that Obamacare is inflicting on millions of Americans.”
It is evident that no matter what Cruz’s strategy was or is, Democrats in the Senate and President Obama have no plan to counter it beyond pure obstructionism and name-calling. Perhaps years ago, that strategy would have met with more success. But as Americans watch error signs pop up on their Obamacare websites and seethe at the notion that the government had to shut down to keep the broken Obamacare trains running on time, the Cruz playbook, as The Hill put it today, is looking better and better. That’s why the media is now playing defense for President Obama’s and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’s shutdown by trying to make it all about Ted Cruz. Unfortunately for them, this debate was always about the American people.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).