Government & Politics

Cruz's Box Canyon

Let the House strategy work!

By Mark Alexander · Sep. 27, 2013

“Experience [has] long taught me the reasonableness of mutual sacrifices of opinion among those who are to act together for any common object, and the expediency of doing what good we can; when we cannot do all we would wish.” –Thomas Jefferson (1803)

The DemoCare debates between the House and Senate, served to invigorate a lot of active grassroots support for defunding or delaying the implementation of the next phase of Barack Obama's nationalized health care plan, due to take effect 01 October.

In my column “The DemoCare and DemoDebt Debate,” I provided an analytical outline of the conservative House Republicans' Continuing Resolution and debt ceiling strategy. For the record, I noted then:

Here is the House and Senate Republican strategy and endgame (yes, there is one, even if GOP “leadership” is trying to catch up with the rank and file). There is a growing grassroots storm brewing in opposition to socialized medicine, now that the reality and consequences of ObamaCare are starting to sink in. The House is using the CR as a vehicle to force Democrat votes on defunding, delaying or amending this job-killing budget-buster. The DemoCare dare is really a strategic long shot effort to delay implementation of the “individual mandate” until after the 2014 election when Republicans believe they will have generated enough political opposition to significantly modify major portions of the law. Indeed, Obama has, for political expediency, already unilaterally (and unconstitutionally) delayed implementation of the employer mandate.

Knowing the House “defund tactic” won't pass a full vote in the Demo-controlled Senate, as Republican Sen. Ted Cruz made plain prior to the House legislation even making it to the Senate, this strategy assumes that Demo Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will strip out that measure and send it back to the House. The next step will be for House Republicans to return a CR replacing the word “defund” with “delay,” which is also likely to fail. As a third pass, I think the House should return a “clean CR” with an amendment to prohibit any congressional subsidies for healthcare (after Obama unconstitutionally did an end run around the Vitter amendment), and demand Executive Branch employees also be subject to all provisions of the ObamaCare mandates – both measures with enormous popular support. That notwithstanding, the measures might still stall in the Senate, where Democrats would like to run the clock down and force a “government shutdown,” which they and their Leftmedia advocates will effectively blame on Republicans.

If Demo Senators reject all of the above, then the House should, in the stated interest not shutting down government, acquiesce, and let the ObamaCare mandates go into effect as scheduled. But that does not mean the strategy is a failure – quite the contrary. Republicans will have gained enormous momentum ahead of 2014. The net effect of the Republican strategy is that Democrats in the House and Senate were forced to vote on the defund and delay measures, and will have to defend those votes ahead of the midterm elections. In regard to the measure to “delay” the implementation of ObamaCare, Demo votes against that “Republican compromise” will be judged harshly in states and districts with only modest support for ObamaCare, amid growing grassroots protests against Obama's socialized medicine scheme.

What will drive those grassroots protests?

Obama, the consummate narcissist, having himself even embraced the name “ObamaCare,” will himself, along with every member of the House and Senate with a “D” after their name, suffer a reversal of political fortunes after ObamaCare is implemented. Why? Because ObamaCare has high negatives in public opinion polls, and from October 01 forward, every American of every political stripe who has any issue with health care, whether a hangnail or heart transplant, a delay in a doctor's office or in critical care for a loved one, will tie blame for their discontent like a noose around the necks of Obama and his Democrats, who were solely responsible for forcing this abomination upon the American people. Additionally, dealing with government clerical minions in this new bloated bureaucracy will be no different than dealing with any other huge government bureaucracy – endless without resolution. No matter how Fab-Tastic ObamaCare may be for some Demo constituencies, Democrats are going to be the target of every health care complaint.

This week, that strategy was working well until Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), however well meaning, derailed it. Sen. Cruz should be applauded for invigorating that debate, but not for letting his choice of tactics define that debate and derail what WAS, a very good strategy. Early in the week, before the House even sent its CR Bill to the Senate with the “defund” language attached, Sen. Cruz said the bill did not have a chance, effectively throwing House conservatives under the bus. Cruz then recovered from that blunder somewhat, by leading the Senate charge in support of the House CR, knowing full well, as he stated previously, that it had no chance of passing the Senate. Then Cruz, for reasons know only to Cruz, unilaterally changed his tactic, by insisting Senate Republicans not support cloture on the House CR (not cut off debate), which means the House legislation would never have gotten a Senate vote, effectively creating a box canyon stalemate for the House conservative strategy, leading to a shut down of some government operations on 30 September.

Cruz's tactic suffers from a basic and insurmountable math error – there are only 47 Republicans in the Senate – a minority. As noted by fellow Republican Sen. Bob Corker, “I may not have gone to Princeton or Harvard, but I can count.”

Further, a forced shutdown would not stop the implementation of ObamaCare, because it falls primarily under the mandatory spending category, which the CR does not control. But a forced shutdown will, most assuredly, be hung around Republican necks.

For the record, I actually admire Cruz because unlike John McCain, who labeled himself “Maverick,” Ted Cruz has a genuine Maverick spirit. But intellectual honesty trumps my admiration for Cruz, and while I admire his tactical tenacity, he does not appear to be able to see the battle, beyond the trench he has dug for himself. Cruz does not seem to embrace the notion that when you find yourself too deep in a hole, stop digging. Unfortunately, at various turns this past week, though Cruz has proven he has populist appeal, his unilateral tactics became detrimental to the overall conservative strategy.

Making matters worse, he then blasted anyone on his own team for not seeing it his way, rather than focusing his criticism on Democrats from states where ObamaCare is unpopular. Cruz even likened Republicans opposed to his faux-filibuster tactic with Nazi sympathizers. “If you go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany. Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, 'Accept the Nazis. Yes, they'll dominate the continent of Europe, but that's not our problem. Let's appease them. We can't possibly stand against them.'”

If the U.S. fought WWII using Cruz's tactical template, there would be a lot more German and Japanese spoken around the world today.

Indeed, at some point this week it seems that Cruz transitioned from a position of principle, to one of political ambition, perhaps at that point where he lost site of the overarching conservative strategy. The fact is, the House's Continuing Resolution strategy, as outlined above, was unfolding precisely as planned, and the only thing Cruz accomplished was further constricting the opportunity for Republicans to get the best deal they could using the CR as a vehicle, and pushing the debate closer to the edge of government shutdown, which does not have public support.

Cruz's tactics notwithstanding, on Friday the Senate voted 79-19, with 25 Republicans joining all Democrats, for cloture – to end debate on the Republican House CR bill to extend short-term government funding and its measure to defund ObamaCare. This cloture vote is precisely the action the House anticipated when sending the bill to the Senate, in order to force a Senate vote on the bill itself, which could not take place until debate ended.

The Senate then voted 54-44 along party lines, and Harry Reid's Democrat majority approved striking of the defund language in the CR. Now, as anticipated by Republicans, the bill goes back to the House for another pass and revision. If I was correct in my analysis a week ago, then the House conservatives will return a plan the replaces the word “defund” with “delay,” arguing that since Obama unconstitutionally delayed the employer mandate, the he should also delay the individual mandate. This has been their underlying objective all along. Once that is rejected, they will follow with a “clean CR” with the exception of an amendment that forces all in the Executive and Legislative branches, to be subject to ObamaCare mandates.

Unfortunately, given the fact that delays on this legislation have pushed it to the 11th hour, Senate Democrats will likely stall any further action on the next House version, and force a government shutdown on 01 October.

Make no mistake. Democrats will successfully hang that shutdown on Republicans, because Cruz has inadvertently set House and Senate Republicans up to take the fall. The coming shutdown will also eclipse Obama's IRS, Benghazi and Syrian scandals, enabling him to get back on the offensive, and put Republicans on the run. The price for Cruz's folly will be enormous.

As for Ted Cruz, his great strength – his single-minded and dogged devotion to achieving his objectives – is also be his greatest weakness. His tactics won him a lot of devoted constituents, but in this case, did not advance the conservative effort to unwind ObamaCare. Rather than set up a gauntlet to prevent the House legislation from proceeding, he should have stepped aside and let the conservative strategy play out. As I wrote last week, “There is an old adage: When your adversary is defeating himself, don't interfere.”

In the meantime, I encourage all grassroots Patriots to embrace the larger conservative strategy over unilateral tactics. I realize that breaking ranks with Cruz's new constituency will cause some heartburn, but my devotion is to Liberty before any man. Despite the fact that Republican House and Senate leaders are weak – Cruz and many of his followers make a grave mistake using political capital attacking Republicans, even though some are entrenched moderates. The great failing of our Tea Party movement is that some conservatives devote much more capital to infighting than they do locking arms and forming a unified front against our adversaries – much to the applause of the Left.

Post Note: Thomas Sowell's assessment of Ted Cruz's failed tactics is summed up thus: “The Tea Party's principles were clear. But their tactics can only be judged by the consequences. … With the chances of making a dent in ObamaCare by trying to defund it being virtually zero, and the Republican Party's chances of gaining power in either the 2014 or 2016 elections being reduced by the public's backlash against that futile attempt, there was virtually nothing to gain politically and much to lose. … If the Tea Party made a tactical mistake, that is not necessarily fatal in politics. People can even learn from their mistakes – but only if they admit to themselves that they were mistaken. Whether the Tea Party can do that may determine not only its fate but the fate of an America that still needs the principles that brought Tea Party members together in the first place. … Preserving my principles unshaken, I reserve my activity for rational endeavors.” Read Part one and Part Two of Sowell's commentary.

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73 Comments

Julia L in Prescott, AZ said:

Really, Patriot Post? You're going to join in the Cruz firing squad with the other lefties and RINO's? I realize it's politically cool to hate on Cruz right now, but c'mon. I think his 21 hour speech was intended to draw as much attention to this entire situation as possible. The Republicans in the house need all the support they can get to defund this nightmare, the American people need to be aware what all the hubbub is about. There is no hope of the Senate defunding, so it's up to the House to stand their ground! Let the Dems shut down government, the more attention on what led to it, the better.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Virtue in Idaho replied:

Thank you Julia! The republicans are still seriously not getting it. There is a base but they are only barely tapping into it.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Mark Alexander in God's Country replied:

Ah yes, name calling, the last refuge of those who have nothing of substance to add to the debate.

So I guess, by extension, you would label all the 2010 Tea Party folks in the House "RINOs" for calling Cruz out earlier this week after he threw them under the bus.

I knew that breaking pace with Ted's devotees would generate some heartburn.

For the record, I actually admire Cruz because unlike John McCain, who labeled himself "Maverick," Ted Cruz has a genuine Maverick spirit. But intellectual honesty trumps my admiration for Cruz.

I stand by my assessment that Cruz should be applauded for invigorating the debate against DemoCare, and that invigoration will become sharply focused in the coming days when the House delivers it's next CR Bill.

But, Cruz should focus his energy on the enemies of Liberty, and so should his newfound constituents, rather than alienating members of his own Party. Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment...

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 11:40 PM

Bob in Dumfries, VA replied:

Hang tough, Mark! You're dealing with a segment of your readership that either can't or won't accept the distinction between strategy and tactics..................

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 2:27 AM

TruthInAction in TX replied:

You kinda' left out principle. At some point, you don't/can't ignore those.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 4:36 AM

JohnnyBoy in Round Rock replied:

"the distinction between strategy and tactics..."
Perhaps it's because it's been so long since Conservative Citizens saw ANY strategy from the Republican Party, that we've almost lost the distinction. I stand in awe of the mess that Republicans have made the last decade. They can't seem to get out of their own way, to the point that they have been continually defeated by a slew of niche interest groups (gathered around Socialism) among the Liberals, that have a single-minded purpose of controlling the govt at whatever cost. I admire the success of the Libs, but their endpoint is disgusting. Repubs would do well to study the manner in which Dems circle the wagons and stick together. Our zeal is continually reloading the gun with which we shoot another foot...again!

Monday, September 30, 2013 at 1:17 PM

DaneChile in Unknown replied:

Perhaps The Cruz Show was all part of the plan...

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Jack Ingram in Casa Grande replied:

"Well"-- I think maybe you are right. I hope many others agree and do something to help. Thank you for posting your thoughts.
Jack

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 5:19 PM

James McGarrahan in Phoenix, AZ replied:

Mark,

Why is it that the conservatives in the Republican Party are always the "bad guys"? Feel free to prove me wrong but, wasn't Sen Cruz attacked by Establishment Republicans before he dared to fight back?

Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 3:29 AM

MarkusUSA in Missouri replied:

Mark, I generally agree with you on everything. On this issue, however, I must respectfully disagree. The Republicans have no strategy. They are in-fighting, and some of them are actually intent on making ObamaCare happen, in spite of the fact that their constituents do not want it. How exactly do you expect Ted Cruz to work with such political hacks as McConnell and McCain who might as well put a (D) next to their name?

Ted's strategy may not have worked, but it shed more light on the real RINOs in the Senate. They all deserve to be shamed for not openly standing up against Reid and the DemocRat cabal.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 1:24 PM

James McGarrahan in Phoenix, AZ replied:

Right on, Julia.
I'm probably not as smart as Mr. Alexander and the Republican Establishment however, I believe Andrew McCarthy is and he at least was able to make my head stop spinning by explaining what it was that Sen. Cruz was filibustering!

Read his column in NRO http://www.nationalreview.com/node/359767/print

Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 2:58 AM

Chris in Tampa, FL replied:

James,

Thanks for sharing that NRO article. I'd like to see Mr. Alexander's attempt to refute Mr. McCarthy. I doubt Mr. Alexander would extend us that pleasure.

Monday, September 30, 2013 at 12:21 AM

Virtue in Idaho said:

If the rest of the Republicans expect to keep their jobs they better get "populist appeal". Think of me as the "populous", I don't care what bureaucratic process leads to amendments to the ACA, I don't care what the Republicans "anticipated" we don't need amendments we need repeal and the only way the ACA will really be repealed is for Republicans to show that they will do anything necessary to fight even refusing to vote on cloture and then the grassroots base will be energized enough to elect Ted Cruz types and repeal will be simple. Right now there are still way too many Republicans speaking out of one side of their mouth about repeal who actually believe some altered form of the ACA is acceptable. Well it ain't. Corker’s statements about how this is all “anticipated” do not outline how this gets rid of the ACA. Tell me what has to happen for the ACA to be gone? What has to happen so that the markets of the US are free? What has to happen is a whole bunch of Ted Cruz's need to be elected. We want to see some backbone we want to see you fight, the time for capitulation and compromise has passed. You have to get the real grass roots behind you and to do that you do not talk to us about how well you anticipated the bureaucratic process. If you really have a plan for how your anticipation leading to a “delay” and “amendments” to the ACA is getting us closer to repeal let’s hear it.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 5:33 PM

DaneChile in Unknown replied:

Sounds like someone from North Idaho!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 3:56 PM

James McGarrahan in Phoenix, AZ replied:

Amen!

Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 3:31 AM

James McGarrahan in Phoenix, AZ replied:

That "Amen!" was meant for Virtue in Idaho.

Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 3:33 AM

Wayne Ingram in South Carolina said:

Reading this opinion on Patriot Post is most disheartening. However, for the opinion to not even list the author's name borders on cowardice. If you're going to write this garbage, then at least take responsibility for it so that those of us who support Patriot Post understand who is the responsible party.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Lyna in AL replied:

See the line just under the title--

Cruz is Confused
The House Strategy is Working!
By Mark Alexander

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Wayne in South Carolina replied:

Thanks Lyna... I looked and looked for the author's name and didn't see it. Apparently I just didn't want to believe it was Mark who wrote this.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 12:09 AM

Chris in Tampa, FL said:

Astonishing Patriot Post! The only ones here that are dazed and confused with an embarrassing dose of naivety is Alexander and company. Tell me oh founts of knowledge, what exactly is Obama and the Democrats going to be blamed for now? Let's see. Have Obama and the Democrats been blamed for the following boondoggles: the stimulus package, cash-for-clunkers, Solyndra, rising unemployment, increases in food stamps, a permanent unemployment class and our national debt? The answer is a resounding NO! What in blazes makes you think Obama and company are going to automatically own this healthcare disaster. Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are falling apart and have they gone away? No! What we get instead is more legislation trying to patch up bad law. Have those failures awaken an uninformed populous? No! We need to continue to make the case and fight now, not kick the can down the road and hope we take both house in 2014! I'm tired of these political games. All this just so the Republicans can have something to run on next year. They have totally stunk at making a clear case thus far. Is this going to change in a year. I applaud Ted Cruz for what he is doing. It seems that the Patriot Post is quickly relegating itself to the trash heap of irrelevancy along the the National Review, The Weekly Standard and others, It seems the only ones who have the intestinal fortitude to make a stand are Ted Cruz and the conservative base in this country. Truly pathetic Patriot Post!

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Leaping Spark in Brandon said:

Sorry Patriot Post but there are very few Republicans left, most are closet communist sycophants of the Democratic party. Washington DC needs an arrest, impeach, and deport day.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Mark Alexander in God's Country replied:

Ditto my previous comment! "closet communist sycophants" You have outdone yourself!

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Matt in Cincinnati, Ohio said:

Remember, the House and Senate have different rules for passing bills. However, Cruz is standing on principal. Perhaps he will lose, but at least he is talking a stand against Obamacare!

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 11:40 PM

Jack Ingram in Casa Grande replied:

Hey Matt!
Good point!

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 5:23 PM

James McGarrahan in Phoenix, AZ said:

I must admit, I'm confused! That video has my head spinning! I guess it is possible that all of us "fly-over" conservatives are just too ignorant to "get it" but, even if that's true, can you blame us for wanting to get behind someone who is finally standing up saying "enough is enough", putting himself on the line and calling out the career politicians that we all know are more concerned about their own jobs than the future of this nation?

Besides, Sen. Cruz has the backing of the Heritage Foundation. Are they also ignorant fools?

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 11:44 PM

Herman Munsterman in Munster replied:

It's simple - Republicans are much closer akin to Democrats and they wanted to give the hot potato back to the House so they could look as though they are not shutting down the government of "non exempt", i.e. once referred to as "nonessential" personnel, which of course is beneficial for the country. Republicans are like the socialist Democrats of 30 years ago, and Democrats are pretty much bordering on communism now. Some think the Senate was established by the Founding Fathers to clog up the works a bit and chew on these bills coming through, and that is precisely what Cruz is doing. God bless him for being a first string player to bring light to the rubber stamping Senate that has been insatiable in its appetite to spend our money for us while stripping us of freedom. Cruz is one of the closest champions of freedom we have, and he speaks from heart and knowledge of the history of this great nations freedom. I imagine the original founders are not quite rolled over yet.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 12:44 AM

MarkusUSA in Missouri replied:

It used to be said that the only difference between the DemocRats and Republicans was about 20 years. That gap closed rapidly and completely disappeared over the past five years.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 1:29 PM

Jack Ingram in Casa Grande replied:

I agree!! Can't improve on it!

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 5:22 PM

RD Jarhead in Oklahoma said:

I blasted my senator today for voting for cloture. and although i agree that the house may have a plan all true cons must stand together and the current speaker is not someone i trust to follow through with a plan once obummer starts his ranting and raving. so i believe Cruz had the only real plan make the senate the final out.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 11:51 PM

James McGarrahan in Phoenix, AZ replied:

Right on! I'm in AZ where we're stuck with McCain and his little puppy, Flake! Oh, that's right.....you're stuck with them too!

God help us get more Ted Cruz's

Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 3:41 AM

Hank in Texas said:

Cruz has guts. He goes down fighting, and that of course separates him from the Old Guard Repubs. They think it rather unseemly to stand up for principle and would rather lose with style. Of course the country is going to hell in a hand basket but fighting is so unseemly. More articles like this one and you will need to be called The "Patriot" Post.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 1:18 AM

TruthInAction in TX said:

Wow, Cruz who speaks "constitution" and "declaration" gets blindsided here? Maybe the disease the Republicans have developed is contagious.

Mr. Alexander, to say I am surprised with your words is an understatement. I don't live on Cruz's every word, but what I've heard since his 'filibuster' from his mouth to my ears is nothing like what you put forth. I guess I missed something he said. I'll go back to the mainstream media and see.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 4:43 AM

TruthInAction in TX said:

Mr. Alexander, I reviewed Fox News, AP, UPI, AP, McClatchy, Drudge and cannot find what you say.

The whole process of this ACA thing from Pelosi's derision, the POTUS's socialist agenda, and SCOTUS unbelievable interpretation of Congress having the power to tax is it.

Rosemary's baby is here, sir. If we get a Democrat House in 2014, yes, there will be a collapse, and there might already be one. This country is gone.

The President isn't going away. There will need to be a ground swell in Congress to get a super majority elected who will not just defund, but who will repeal this legislaton over a presidential veto.

The House should not delay the ACA. Let the American citizenry see what has been done to them. What a mistake to take the tack, you mention. Talk about bad strategy and tactics!

Ha, you have gone to the wrong place on this one, Mr. Alexander. The Republicans lost me some time back. The Democrats never had me. Cruz, Lee, Paul, Vitter, and some others are the ones who have been insulted and ridiculed by their frenemies.

My disappointment in your remarks now has me wondering if you are just paying lip service like most of the other politicians are. I am fed up with political parties.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 5:10 AM

Mark Alexander in God's Country replied:

You won't find "what I say" on "Fox News, AP, UPI, AP, McClatchy, Drudge." I don't make a practice of regurgitating what they post. The vast majority of those "analysts" have a difficult time seeing the battle beyond the trench they are in. So do too many of my fellow conservatives.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 10:21 AM

boilingfrog in N.C. said:

Mark read what Gun owners of America have to say about it. I disagree with you on this one, the establishment republicans are ad bad as the liberals. I have no faith in them. Once a policy is in place law whatever ya call obamacare it will be there forever or until Our Country falls apart at the seams. And yes that is very likely to occur. And no that is a horror that I don't want to see.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Mark in Columbus said:

So tell me Mark, when the House passes a clean bill will you go along with their obfuscation or will you admit that Ted Cruz is correct?

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Mac in Arizona said:

....uh, huh.... let's keep up with the BRILLIANT REPUBLICAN GAME PLAN that's handed Obama everything he's set out to do.

BRAVO !!! BRAVO !!!

.... and tell me again why the establishment republicans absolutely hate all those taxes that are going to pour in from O'care......

.... I need another laugh...

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Larry in Omaha Ne said:

Shell games, kick the can, the folly of fools! Our final last chance is now. Add it back in, no conference, fund the gov't only thru mid october. Make it clear that Republicans will not be the the ones to blame-OBAMA WILL, (and the Dems/RINOS) if he vetoes it. Also that it was HIS BILL and as it is Unconstitutional, therefore illegal, it is unenforceable, null and void, there fore stricken. Where the hell are the wealthy, influential Patiots? Where the hell are those that forced Richard Nixon's Resignation? Where the hell are those that Impeached Clinton but couldn't try/convict him? Stand clear and firm this time or we will all be in hell instead of with our Founding Fathers!

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 3:17 PM