Tolleson, DL. “Ted Cruz.”
Tolleson, DL. “Ted Cruz.”
Among the derisive techniques in political discourse are short summations and vitriolic speech designed to elicit contemptuous emotional reactions. These are typically utilized in tandem with misinformed arguments that presume, “common sense.” Humor is an excellent medium for combining all of these elements. But the successes of these techniques depend upon over-simplification (which constitutes the aforementioned presumption of common sense) and a dearth of facts that would otherwise expose an invalid argument.
For example, University of Texas at Arlington Political Science professor Allan Saxe was a frequent “go to guy” for commentary on Fort Worth/Dallas radio station WBAP (820 AM). In this role, he once paraphrased his students opining on government by when they had echoed mainstream media rhetoric by arguing that when the, “government is doing things, they must be good things.”
Another example, and impetus for this article was an appearance by Comedian Christopher Titus at the Addison Improv in Texas. During his show on the weekend of October 17, 2013 Titus said that Harry Reid and Ted Cruz were, “douchebags.”
When briefly talking to me after the show, Titus felt compelled to repeat the comparison about Cruz.
His comment, which was conveyed through humor in order to elicit a contemptuous emotional reaction, makes for an easy postpartum examination of the opinion’s foundation.
Not being a Texan, Titus probably didn’t know that Cruz defeated Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in a run for Texas Senator to the United States. Cruz won in the face of overwhelming Republican establishment efforts and an outrageous Dewhurst mudslinging campaign. The 2012 Republican nomination was a run-off election favoring Cruz by a whopping 57% of the vote to Dewhurst’s 43%. In the following general election, Cruz went on to carry 56% of the vote, defeating Democrat Paul Sadler and his 43%. In short, Cruz was put in office by a groundswell of support that was not behind the VERY established, moderate David Dewhurst. Cruz represented a departure from the type of government representatives with whom we are familiar—someone pushed upon the voter by the establishment.
So, not being immersed in Texas politics, it isn’t likely that Cruz’s rise to office is a foundation upon which Titus was likely to have formed an opinion.
In search of a foundation for Titus’ unfavorable opinion of Ted Cruz, let us consider Cruz’s experience, education and résumé. Ted Cruz...
Certainly, if anything, the above outstanding record does not qualify as grounds for referring to Ted Cruz as anything but excellent in his various endeavors.
So, any unfavorable opinions of Cruz must find a foundation in the portrayal of the man though the filter of the mainstream media. Such opinions must be formed separate from his experience, education and résumé and based upon either Cruz’s political stance or his performances in taking that stance (such as when he delivered a 21 hour and 19 minute “filibuster” on the floor of the Senate chamber or other speeches of similar contentStripping away the narrative of the talking heads (as that represents opinions and not facts), the disfavor akin to that expressed by Titus must, then, be one or the other. His political position or his performances. If Titus’ opinion was built upon the former, then anyone who disagrees with Titus would be held in equal disdain (and I don’t get the impression that this is the case).
If Titus’ contempt was, however, owed to Cruz’s performance—the way Cruz has taken his stance on matters—then a review of one of these political hot potatoes might prove beneficial.
The obvious thing is Cruz’s leading the charge to defund Obamacare.
The generally held proposition is that the defund effort was irrelevant because Obamacare was/is the law of the land and/or was already funded by sources outside of those controlled by the House of Representatives.
This is an important allegation. If true, then Titus is right and Cruz is a, “douchebag,” for his 21 hour stall and the resulting resistance he infused into the movement to shut down the government (which was a direct result of a grassroots invigorated by Cruz’s defunding effort). If, on the other hand, the allegation is wrong, then Titus is wrong and Cruz is vindicated.
So, what was the possibility of defunding Obamacare at the point in time that Cruz was leading the charge?
Here are the facts: There were $23 billion (dollars) slated to start and run Obamacare. That amount was a part of $105 billion that the previous Congress (at that time) appropriated to fund the program. The balance of the amount ($105 billion minus $23 billion, meaning $82 billion) was supposed to become available between then and the fiscal year of 2019. This $82 billion was a separate amount of funding from what the Congress had the authority to appropriate and provide at the time of Cruz’s speech. (Side note: Just because a program is “authorized” does not mean it follows that it will be funded. Congress can choose to not appropriate funds for an authorized program and it folds.)
Back to the $23 billion: Congress had the power to rescind some or all of it.
It is incorrect to say that the House could not have stopped the funding. They make the funding and they can change funding as they are empowered by the Constitution. Under their own, in-house rules, they could have put funding together or separate it out as they saw fit and those house rules were (and still are) as fluid as the members themselves. Those rules were waived for defunding programs many times. Even during the whole continuing resolution debate, Congress waived rules to defund some programs while trying to fund other federal programs.
In fact, over the course of at least three occasions, one House rule (number 21) was waived so that 123 appropriations could be rescinded.1 While Obamacare was left untouched each time it could have just as easily been included. Even the House Energy and Commerce Committee attempted to eliminate a part of $82 billion amount that was slated for future Obamacare expenditures that I mentioned above (while at the same time NOT affecting that initial $23 billion I also mentioned above).
There were other approaches—too many for me to have tracked or mention here. But the point is, defunding Obamacare was a very real possibility. Had the Republicans—across the board—stood firm and united.
And perhaps that is what has made Cruz so disliked by those on the left: He made good on his campaign promises and his voters liked it.
In an ABC interview, Cruz underscored his motivations:
“There’s an old saying that, ‘Politics, it ain’t beanbag.’ And, you know, I’m not serving in office because I desperately needed 99 new friends in the U.S. Senate. And you know what, there is an inverse relationship. Given the choice between being reviled in Washington D.C. and appreciated in Texas or reviled in Texas and appreciated in Washington: I would take the former one-hundred out of one-hundred times. And I tell you, when I go back home in Texas—I have a job that I was elected to do and that is to represent twenty-six million Texans. To fight for them and they are frustrated just like people all over this country. Their top priority is jobs and economic growth and Washington isn’t listening to them.”2
Washington may not have been listening, but Texans were—and they were listening to Ted Cruz. To the chagrin of detractors, and after Cruz had made his stand on the floor of the Senate, Cruz enjoyed a trip to Texas that was accompanied by an event in which he received an 8-minute Standing Ovation.
There are—I suppose—degrees to which liberalism extends for each person advocating that the Constitution is a living, breathing document subject to changes fitting the times. Whether these people realize it, the end result is a government leviathan that will consume their freedoms. By its very nature, the growth of government intrudes upon the individual. It has happen before, it is happening now and it will happen again. And for these people, Cruz is at best a formidable opponent espousing opposing views in line with strict Constitutional constructionists. Such people are thoughtful, disagree with most of what Cruz says and does and are, “liberal.” They may be democrats or so-called “moderate” Republicans, but they are, in fact, liberal. They have a fundamentally different view of government and beyond this, there isn’t much to be said about them.
As for Cruz’s detractors who are not cognitive of what has been covered here, but continue using techniques dependent upon over-simplification in the face of a dearth of facts that would otherwise render their arguments invalid—well, they are ill-informed. The comedian to whom I referred at the outset, and who is generally astute, is someone I place in this category.
As for the rest of Cruz’s detractors—those who are cognitive of the facts or choose to ignore them and trash Cruz (and by default, his supporters)… These people are not only liberals (regardless of what they call themselves), but also people of less than desirable character (an example that comes to mind is a war hero from Arizona who lost a bid for the Presidency of the United States). These people, RINOs, “whacko birds” (the aforementioned hero’s term for Cruz), socialists, far-left screamers and the educated who want nothing of the Republic designed by our founders and framers—these people fit Christopher Titus’ description quite nicely.
1 Istook, Ernest. “The ‘Untouchable’ $23.6 Billion.” The Daily Signal, The Daily Signal, 16 Mar. 2011, https://www.dailysignal.com/2011/03/15/the-untouchable-23-6-billion, (Retrieved October 22, 2013).
2 Morrissey, Ed. “Cruz: I Didn't Come to the Senate to Get 99 New Friends.” Hot Air, 18 Oct. 2013, https://www.hotair.com/archives/2013/10/18/cruz-i-didnt-come-to-the-senate-to-get-99-new-friends, (Retrieved October 22, 2013).