How Ted Cruz Wins By Losing

The Texas Senator is going to lose his fight to stop Obamacare. But he is winning much more in the process.

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At 2:41 p.m. on Tuesday, Ted Cruz buttoned his suit coat and stood up from his desk in the Senate chamber to seize the spotlight. “I rise today in opposition to Obamacare,” the freshman Texas conservative began, serving notice that he intended to speak “until I am no longer able to stand.” When he entered a few minutes earlier, a clutch of senior Republican colleagues huddling near the door had silently slipped out the room. All Cruz had with him were a black three-ring binder of notes, a bespectacled aide and Republican Senator Mike Lee, his partner in the doomed quest to defund Barack Obama’s health-care law. He was virtually alone.

Which is, of course, just how Ted Cruz wanted it. The moment marked the climax of a spreading rift between Cruz, the combative champion of grassroots conservatives, and most of the rest of the Republican Party. Around Washington, consultants warned that Cruz’s antics tarnished the GOP brand. Inside the Capitol, colleagues grumbled that his showboating boxed in House Republicans by delaying Senate Democrats’ inevitable victory. “I know how this movie ends,” groused Senator John McCain. “I know all the scenes.”

(MORE: Ted Cruz Reads ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ on Senate Floor — And That’s Not the Weird Part)

Cruz’s marathon speech Tuesday won’t rewrite the ending of the battle over Obamacare. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats will vote to advance the process of stripping out the provision to defund the healthcare law, and Cruz can do nothing to stop it. But even as he loses the battle in the Senate, Cruz is winning the battle that matters to him, which is the fight to establish himself as the purest conservative in the Republican Party. Ted Cruz may be the most unpopular man in Washington at the moment. But no one, save perhaps Rand Paul, has won bigger this year.

In the scrambled logic of today’s Republican Party, a senator’s standing in Washington is inversely proportional to his reputation back home. Suffering the slings and arrows of critics in the capital is a good way to win the approbation of the people who matter. For every fight picked, for every feather ruffled, Cruz’s profile climbs. Over the past few months, as conservative consultants bashed his plan to use the budget deadline as a spur to force a fight over Obamacare, Cruz’s numbers have risen in the early polls of 2016 GOP presidential contenders. In June, he sat at 3% in a Reuters poll; this month, a pair of surveys from CNN and PPP have put him at 7% and 10%, respectively. And he is just getting started.

Some colleagues openly fumed about Cruz’s Obamacare posturing. “There’s no end result other than shutting the government down, for which Republicans are going to be blamed,” said Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. “We’re in the minority. We have to find a way of standing up for our principles without immolating ourselves in front of everybody.” Others just seemed flummoxed. “This is not Gilbert and Sullivan,” Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski declared in an acid condemnation of Cruz’s tactics, “This is the real deal.”

(MORE: Cruz Loses Support for Anti-Obamacare Tactic)

What these senators might not have realized is the audience for Cruz’s theatrics is not the members of the Senate at all. It is evangelical groups in Iowa, New Hampshire libertarians, South Carolina county chairmen, and the thousands of other activists whose ardor can lift a presidential campaign. Cruz’s path to the 2016 GOP nomination, which he is widely believed to be pursuing, runs through the conservative base. And so that is who he plays to. In contrast, Florida Senator Marco Rubio—another high-profile advocate of the risky fight over defunding Obamacare—was careful to keep himself out of the spotlight. That’s because Rubio’s best strategy is to nurture his crossover appeal, and stitch together a coalition from both the base and the elites.

Cruz has a way of being broadly combative while avoiding direct confrontation. His speech Tuesday was like one extended subtweet; he repeatedly called out unnamed colleagues as cowards. “As is usually the case, the Senate floor is empty. Everyone’s schedules are too busy to stop Obamacare,” he needled them. Irking the rest of the Senate is not the collateral damage of his strategy; it is the whole plan. “All those comments only empower him,” Republican strategist Dave Carney told me last summer as I reported a magazine profile of Cruz. “The mark of a scarlet letter today is being part of that club.”

In other words, Cruz sees most Senate peers not as potential friends, but as useful foils. Nor was his plan to outmaneuver Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who deftly slalomed around Cruz’s procedural efforts to delay a vote that will proceed as scheduled on Wednesday. “Most Americans couldn’t give a flying flick about a bunch of politicians in Washington,” Cruz said. But the “surrender caucus,” as he once called them, is Cruz’s biggest asset. As long as he can portray them as spineless, he gets to stand tall.

MORE: Watch here to see how Ted Cruz humorously deals with a filibuster:

227 comments
mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Ted Cruz a Koch paid puppet who will happily destroy the GOP in his bid for national recognition. I hope he runs in 2016. The resulting shellacking might be the reality check the GOP needs to become sane again.

AmyBrady-Kilpatrick
AmyBrady-Kilpatrick

His public face back home?  I want him as president.  I know very few people who want this Obamacare to go through.  There is not enough information for anyone to make a decision.  This is socialism and we are suppose to be a free nation.  How is our government taking away so many of our rights.  Even the right to decide for ourselves.  And how are we suppose to trust them to be able to run a healthcare system when they can run medicare or medicaid effectively?  Why are they defunding foodstamps?  Hello we don't have the money to be doing this.  I say we because I pay taxes to them and its my government, its your government.  It is not theirs to take and do with how they see fit.  Democrats you will be voted out of office.

SamSweden
SamSweden

It is sad to watch how today the US political scene is tearing itself apart by self centred politicians while the normal good American US citizen is suffering as a result...

fitty_three
fitty_three

Just remember this, GOP fans:

You're on your way to giving yourselves the worst arsewhupping since 1995.

But hey! Don't cry!

You get a chance to beat yourselves to death all over again on October 18!

Life as a bagger must really suck unless you're a staunch masochist.

See ya...

paulejb
paulejb

It serves liberals much better to dwell on Ted Cruz than it does to have to defend the impending train wreck that we know as ObamaCare. 

ObamaCare will make Obama's $831 billion stimulus bill that stimulated nothing appear to be a stroke of genius.

ParthaNeogy
ParthaNeogy

McCain, Romney, and now Cruz - they all won by losing.  Obama, of course, keeps losing by winning.  It's a magical prism that lets Time reporters view out-of-their-depth, out-of-touch pols, and now a cynical manipulator of his party colleagues and voters, as winners.  

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

This lunatic invoked the Nazis and Chamberlain.  Dr. Suss.  His children.  The Senate cowered far too long to censure Joseph McCarthy.  It is time for Mr. Crazy Cruz to be censured for his diversionary, pointless, non-fillibuster rant.  

JanetLeClainche
JanetLeClainche

People elect their representatives (I always thought) to get things done, not shut things down or tear things down.  Sad that many elected officials don't understand that.  Pandering to the base may keep you elected, but it sure doesn't get things done.

Jamus
Jamus

If Ted Cruz is such an ass, why does the press continue to provide him with outrageous levels of coverage. I for one, would love to read about something besides this radical demagogue. C'mon, get with it Time  

MrObvious
MrObvious

Ted Cruz voted with the rest of Senate for cloture. Not against it.


Good show Mr Cruz - that was time well spent to promote you as the real deal.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

And the irony of reading Green Eggs and Ham went right over his pointy head.

dectra
dectra

Ted Cruz isn't the smartest person in the room...................even when he's the ONLY person in the room.


Keep fiddling while the US economy burns, Teddy......you'll get yours.

Diecash1
Diecash1

Ted Cruz is a self aggrandizing d0uche and he's "winning" just like Charlie Sheen and he'll probably meet the same fate -- ending up on a third rate show on Faux News.

I hope he runs and that the moronic Repub base chooses him as their nominee. Perhaos he can get Palin or Bachmann to be his VP? He would lose in a landslide and further marginalize his right wing base. I can hardly wait to see this catastrophe.

1wilsope
1wilsope

I am amazed by the hate on this form! From what I have witnessed Senator Cruz has been respectful to every Senator that has addressed him. If you disagree with him fine, tell us what you disagree with and tell us why. One of the biggest problems with our political system (and America for that matter) is the lack of meaningful dialog and the increase of personal partisan attacks.

Percy
Percy

@AmyBrady-Kilpatrick

Whatever issues with the vital government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid what would happen without them? Would we leave the poor to die without care and the elderly to do the same? There is government for a reason, formed for a reason, and serves a reason. As a society we don't leave the weak, old and poor to die in the street if not for moral reasons than for practical. Before social security the elderly quite literally died in the street. We thought as a society that maybe that's not a good idea.

Clean air, street repair, teachers, safe food, police, fire, social security, military, and there are so many more innumerable ways that government and society performs necessary, vital, programs, services that are taken for granted regardless of the issues with their expedition we'd certainly notice a difference if they weren't there.

In the UK in one go after WWII it was decided that no matter a persons status, rich or poor, sick or well, that healthcare was a human need that everyone was entitled to if for no other reason than being a human being. That in society we are all obliged to care for safe in the knowledge that we will at some point need the same.

Food stamps keep children from starving regardless of the reason their family is on them, the elderly need care as do the handicap. Somehow we draw the line of the working poor being able to see a doctor without ID, a credit card and proof of insurance. We've decided that there is a point at which half of our American citizens are entitled to wellness and half are not. The only industrialized society that's made that distinction. And here we are the richest economy in the world. Not something to be proud of and completely impractical.

A professor said to me once that in this country 'there is no one to catch you when you fall'. That's not a society, a government to be proud of or an acceptable view point. At some point we all fall so lets make sure their will be something there to catch us..all of us.

AgentGG
AgentGG

@AmyBrady-Kilpatrick Stunning logic on display here (not) --  like ignoring the fact that ACA (Obamacare) has been ratified by a democratic government (all three branches) elected by a MAJORITY of the voters.

Also your comment about not enough information is a remarkable insight -- not into the amount of public information available, but into your efforts in obtaining it and attempting to inform yourself.  What are your expectations of how citizens are supposed to inform themselves?

In short, you appear to regard democracy as a system where you don't really need to inform yourself about the government or any substantial policy matter, but yet, you still get to decide (and overrule government decisions) about such matters.  Remarkable.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@paulejb 

Why should we bother to defend something that the GOP can't touch?

For that matter, don't you think it might be wise to make plans for the teabagger extinction looming?

Maybe you can dig yourself a burrow.

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

@paulejb 

I do hold my ear to the right wing ground.  Yesterday I got a right wing idiot e-mail describing President Obama canceling the Nation Prayer Day and attending a Muslim prayer meeting.  It was all false, lies.  Are you the origin of it?  

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

@paulejb 

Say, genius, how do you and Cruz know how it will work until it's tried?  The stimulus bill, by the way was supported by Bush and Republicans.  You know better, genius?   Of course you do.  You momma told you so.

drudown
drudown

@paulejb 

Two things.

First, you deceitfully imply that the ACA (e.g., properly presented to the Executive branch by the Legislative branch and upheld via Judicial Review by the Supreme Court) "is not really binding federal law until funded." Where is the legal support for such a novel construction of our Nation's laws. Cite the authority.

Second, you deceitfully omit any reference that the $831 billion stimulus bill was necessary to ameliorate the effects of the Wall Street meltdown and, indeed, global credit catastrophe that was proximately caused by the application of GOP deregulation (see, e.g., refusal to regulate "credit-default swaps" and the blatant fraud on unwary investors that these highly speculative- if not illusory- derivatives were "safe investments"). 

Incredibly, no GOP pundit, leader or part representative has yet to even acknowledge the FACT the Bush Tax Cuts account for roughly a third of the Nation's annual fiscal shortfall when trying to inartfully pin the imprudent policy on the Democratic donkey. 

Say, are you Grover's K st. flunky?

TomClareyLassimer
TomClareyLassimer

@formerlyjames Funny how you're calling Cruz a McCarthite.  You're the one trying to smear your opponent. Oh the irony of it all.

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

@Jamus 

Because car wrecks, drive by shootings, and knifings  are the lead story.  That's Cruz.

bobcn
bobcn

@MrObvious 

Four photos of Cruz on the Swampland home page.  The CNN Politics page features a photo of Cruz with reporters microphones being thrust at him.  

Who says he didn't accomplish anything?  The tea-partiers may not have gotten anything out of his antics, but Cruz got just what he wanted.

mak4374
mak4374

@MrObvious The "real deal" of what? The poisonous selfishness that has made this the worse congress if four generations? So now we exalt the biggest of the morons because he is the most pure and genuine of all the morons?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@MrObvious 

I hope everyone that posted here in support of him appreciates that.  This man doesn't care about you, people; this is all a show and you eat it right up.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@Diecash1 


I think an all Texas ticket of Cruz and Perry would be fun. It will be the biggest GOP loss since 1964.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@1wilsope 


Maybe you should poll his fellow GOP Senators and see how much respect they have for Cruz. There are reasons why they hate his guts. Spare us the hand wringing about partisan attacks, the Right Wing are masters at it, especially since Jan 2009.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@1wilsope 

A DB is a DB. Why be respectful to someone who has absolutely no respect for anyone else other then himself?

Now a meaningful dialogue (if that's what you want) should also offer a better solution. But self serving people like Ted just hark about 'repealing' something while offering nothing in return. This is kabuki theater. Nothing else. Where the end goal is to put Ted in the limelight, not offering a better argument against Obamacare, which is what the end goal should be.

Plantiful
Plantiful

@AgentGG 
You can blame our commercial "news" broadcasts on informing the public about even the slightest of details.  The news is supposed to be the eyes and ears of a functioning democracy.  Too bad we are al deaf and blind, unless you go out and purposefully look for the details.

Amy's viewpoints are rather narrow and limited.  All industrialized countries have socialized medicine, simply because it is not a capitalist-based market system:  are you going to go out and look for your cure for cancer somewhere else where it is cheaper?!  Insurance companies want profits, and increased profits every quarter to please their stockholders.  How do you get more profits in insurance?  You increase rates and decrease expenditures (that are needed by paying members).  That will only last so long, and it has gone far beyond what it should be that our system is no longer the "best in the world," rather an embarrassment.  

Read up on it Amy.

reallife
reallife

@formerlyjames @paulejb "how do you and Cruz know how it will work until it's tried?"

 Miss Pelosi, we still have to read the bill, remember?



paulejb
paulejb

@formerlyjames @Jamus 

Anything but the horrors of ObamaCare. Obama's government takeover of health care will go down in history as the worst law ever passed.

jmac
jmac

@bobcn @MrObvious  Maybe Democrats got what they wanted.  Cruz is a pretty ugly man (and not just in looks) to be the face of the Republican party.  McCain and McConnell certainly aren't happy about it.  

Butters is so confused he stated tonight he's never going to call it Obamacare again.  He's decided he'll call it Clintoncare.  (Since Bill's pushing it and Hillary might be on the ticket).  The levels they stoop.  Amazing.   I think we should call it Godcare and see if some evangelicals will come over along with the pope.   

1wilsope
1wilsope

@tommyudo @1wilsope

I don't think I defended any personal attacks. The right is just as bad as the left. Pointing out bad behavior to justify bad behavior doesn't fly with me; it's still bad behavior. Wouldn’t it be great if politicians stuck to the issues and stopped the personal attacks? Unfortunately in our current environment you can’t be elected to public office if you can’t tear your opponent down.

1wilsope
1wilsope

@MrObvious @1wilsope

Again, the name calling; Not that you care, but this will be the last time I reply to any of your comments if you continue with the name calling.

If you listened to his comments he mentioned a number of different solutions. Most of them had to do with the free market which you may not agree with, but he did offer different solutions.

1wilsope
1wilsope

@mantisdragon91 @1wilsope

I read through the article but didn't see any personal attacks. Please post specifically what you are referring to. If you are correct and he did personally attack Mr. Hagel and not his policies, I would agree that he was out of line.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@paulejb

You lie a LOT about Obamacare. 

I not only kept my doctor and my plan, but after $2,880,000 in medical expenses, my wife was not kicked off the plan, we did not go bankrupt, and my wife is alive and batting stronger.

All of which makes you froth I'm sure.

jmac
jmac

@paulejb @formerlyjames @Jamus "will go down in history as the worst law ever passed."

It's going to put him on Mount Rushmore if he also accomplishes something in the Middle East.  

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

@paulejb @formerlyjames @Jamus 

Anything?  Said in finest traditions of anarchists, bomb throwers, the Taliban.  Every economically, democratic nation in the world has universal health care.  You and Crazy Cruz know better than the rest of the world?  You don't like our President.  That's what it is all about.  President Obama.  You and Cruz are losers, bomb throwers.  I retch.  You both are traitors to our country.

drudown
drudown

@paulejb @formerlyjames @Jamus 

That or the GOP Congress' 40 attempts to repeal the ACA (i.e., the LAW) via Unconstitutional means will go down in history as the worst fiscal waste ever seen. The very notion that ANY elected official would even intimate that he/she would support "defunding" the government the took a solemn oath to serve is an impeachable act that is inexcusable. 

How is that different from a Fire Chief setting fire to County Property? 

1wilsope
1wilsope

@tommyudo And if you have an accurate political antenna I'll take it.Heaven knows I'm not always in tune as I could be. I have my political points of view, but I do my best to listen to both sides. I'm not arrogant enough to suggest that I'm always right, but I do try and take what I hearand weigh it with what my conscience and the facts tell me and come to a reasonable solution for myself.I would hope that you would do the same. It’s obvious that you have a hatred for the Right, try to get past that hatred and try to understand where the other side is coming from. Chances are you will still disagree with them, but you might discover that you can understand why they feel the way they do.

1wilsope
1wilsope

@tommyudo @1wilsope 

I am not defending the Republicans; I can't. But all you have to do is look back at last presidential campaign or when Bush was in office to see that the left has been just as vicious as the republicans have been. But again perception is reality. So if it makes you feel better when you dish out your personal attacks you go ahead and keep believing that the left is flawless and deserves no fault for the current environment in Washington. If both sides continue to point the finger at the other side, nothing will ever change. MSNBS is just as bad as Fox, if you want I can post some of the mean and hateful things that have been said by the left. But again I don’t think this would change your perception.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@1wilsope 


No one ever said the left doesn't go on the attack, just that the Right 20 some odd years ago started the attacks in the media . First on Clinton and then they progressed to Obama, with an extra special patina to it, if you catch my drift. Who cares about the comments on these boards? The Right Wing media echo chamber has many more gullible followers who hang on their every word. The rest of us here are just letting off steam talking to one another. If you can't tell the difference then you are either in the tank for  Fox "News", or you need to be fitted with a political antenna.

1wilsope
1wilsope

@tommyudo @1wilsope

Wow! I guess perspective is reality, I can tell by your response that it wouldn't matter how many examples I showed you from the left and their vicious attacks on the right; it wouldn’t change your view. To state that the left doesn't engage in personal atacks is like looking outside at the sun and saying it doesn't shine. Just look at the comments on this board.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@1wilsope 


You are wrong, the Right through their organs on radio and Fox are much more vitriolic and vicious in their personal attacks, especially on Obama. You sound like Joe Klein, or another one of the MSM hacks who think that "both sides do it."

As long as the GOP continues to be the repository of the religiously insane and the racial bigots we will continue to wallow in the present toxic environment. You seem to think that the Left should continue to let themselves be kicked between the legs. Those days are over.

manlyman
manlyman

Socialist and marxist is too kind, and doesn't begin to describe the biggest piece of dogspit to ever cross the threshold of the whitehouse.

Percy
Percy

@1wilsope @fitty_three You have a good point in that whatever one's feelings regarding policy, and those propose it, personal attacks should be avoided. I'd read that in making his political arguments President Lincoln did not engage in personal attacks. He took the high road and made the point that while it is understandable the other side may have an opposing view he can see, he made logical arguments showing how the contrary view is supported more by facts.

While this obviously did not succeed in avoiding the horrendous civil war, which hasn't completely disappeared from public sentiment, he was admired, loved and followed due to his ability to speak to the highest ideals. I'm not sure that ability would be recognized today, but it sets an example for the American intellect is cable of.

dectra
dectra

@1wilsope @MrObvious  

Yea....like you teabaggers never called the President a 'socialist' or a 'marxist' right?

1wilsope
1wilsope

@fitty_three @1wilsope

I don't agree with personal attacks on anyone. If you want to criticize policies that’s one thing, but I do my best not criticize anyone personally.

1wilsope
1wilsope

@mantisdragon91 @1wilsope 

Thanks for the documentation....I hate it when people take comments out of context. I agree, Senator Cruz was out of line.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@1wilsope @mantisdragon91 

New Sen. Ted Cruz brought three—count 'em—visual aids to his interrogation of Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel. He played two clips from Hagel's interviews on Arab-language media, attempting to prove that Hagel agreed with callers who accused Israel of "war crimes" and the United States of "bullying," because he quickly agreed with the questions and moved on. The third aid was a chart blowing up a July 31, 2006 quote from Hagel, during Israel's conflict with Hezbollah.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/01/31/ted_cruz_s_bogus_attack_on_hagel.html