If there weren’t so much at stake, I could write off this episodic soap opera over a government shutdown and defaulting on our debt as just plain entertainment. I had seen the show before, after all, so it should be as simple as choosing the rerun on Netflix.
This time, however, it’s different.
The Beltway Broadcast Network (BBN) has aired some of the most compelling live and taped television of our time – most recently the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. But its hit show, Under the Capitol Dome, has “jumped the shark.”
Watching people like Ted Cruz, a freshman senator from Texas, embarrass himself and his party as he talked for 21 hours in a fake effort to defund Obamacare was a little like watching Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons: “Your guilty conscience may move you to vote Democratic, but deep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king. That's why I did this, to save you from yourselves.”
When Cruz began reading Green Eggs and Ham as a bedtime story to his kids, he revealed part of his character that most people would call arrogance. His kids don’t like this book, but he does. So without a face-to-face challenge, he read it to them anyway, virtually assuring they would change the channel. That‘s the same way he treats his own party: I’m going to block this vote whether you like it or not. My ideals are better than yours. I’m doing this for the good of the country while you’re all just RINOs. I’m Jesus and you’re not.
Ted Cruz is not Mr. Smith or James Stewart or Jesus. He’s whipping up a frenzy over a health care bill that may be highly flawed, but that is not going away no matter what he does. It’s like saying Interstate 95 is always so crowded and is always a mess that we must defund it and tear it down instead of making repairs and making it better. Despite his “high Ivy” education, he doesn’t seem to understand the consequences of tearing down a major highway and what that would do to other transportation systems.
The same is true with Obamacare. It’s not as if our current system is a model of excellence. We pay too much to too many entities for services that should be consolidated. On top of that, our uninsured are using the system in the most inefficient way because they have no choice—and it costs far more to go to a hospital emergency room for a strep throat than to call a primary care physician for a prescription for amoxicillin.
And yet, the Tea Party is willing to throw our perfect credit rating down the tubes for a principal that Ted Cruz and his sidekick Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) think is the Holy Grail of congressional politics. This is not a negotiation – not when senior members of your own party like John McCain and Bob Corker have tried to explain in short simple sentences that this tactic will not work. That it will hurt the country and the GOP.
Politico’s Ben White summed it today: "A brief shutdown would have some negative economic effects and could create political blowback on the GOP. But it would cause far less long-term damage than a default, which would likely send interest rates sky-rocketing, crush the stock market, devastate business and consumer confidence, and probably send the nation's economy hurtling back into recession if not depression.”
Is Ted Cruz ready for the wrath of the American people? The business community? Maybe even the Texas business community? If not, he should start reading Gulliver’s Travels.