"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“A Major League Asshole”: Ted Cruz Is Not Well-Liked And The Knives Are Coming Out For Him

“Be liked and you will never want,” said Willy Loman, the protagonist of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. “That’s the wonder, the wonder of this country, that a man can end with diamonds here on the basis of being liked!” Of course, the great tragic figure of the American theater was terribly wrong about that. But in politics, personal relationships still matter, even if the days when Lyndon Johnson would call up a senator and sweet-talk him into changing his vote on a bill are long gone.

I’m thinking about this because Ted Cruz—Tea Party hero, up-and-comer, future presidential candidate—is suddenly finding himself on the receiving end of a whole lot of hostility from House Republicans. By way of context, there’s a broad consensus that Cruz is, as George W. Bush would put it, a major-league asshole. He’s not someone who wastes time and energy being nice to people or cultivating relationships that could be useful down the road. He’s pretty sure he’s smarter than everyone, and doesn’t mind making it clear that’s how he feels. People consider him rude and condescending. This was apparent from the moment he got to Washington, and it was true back in Texas as well. But if you agree with his politics, then does that matter?

It sure seems to matter today. On the surface, there’s a tactical dispute about whether Cruz is working hard enough to get the Senate to defund Obamacare now that the House is about to do its part by passing a continuing resolution that does the defunding deed. Because he expressed some resignation about the CR’s prospects in the Senate—which is tantamount to admitting that Republicans will not be able to flap their arms and fly to the moon, no matter how hard they try—Cruz is being hit left and right, or more properly, right. House Republicans feel that Cruz encouraged them to force a government shutdown over defunding, and now that they’re doing their part, he doesn’t seem to be doing enough on his end. Republican Rep. Sean Duffy fumed that Cruz had “abused” and “bullied” House Republicans. His colleague Peter King said, “If he can deliver on this, fine. If he can’t, he should keep quiet from now on and we shouldn’t listen to him,” which is actually strong words from a congressman to a senator. And check out this, from the National Review:

House insiders say a handful of House Republicans cursed Cruz in the cloakroom on Wednesday, and a leadership source says angry e-mails were exchanged among GOP staffers who consider Cruz to be a charlatan. “Cruz keeps raising conservatives’ hopes, and then, when we give him what he wants, he doesn’t have a plan to follow through,” an aide fumes. “He’s an amateur.” Another aide says, “Nancy Pelosi is more well-liked around here.”

Holy cow. That’s like somebody on the Red Sox saying that Alex Rodriguez is more well-liked in the Sox clubhouse than one of his teammates. So would this have happened if Cruz was a nicer guy? My guess is that there would be far less of this open antagonism.

And this tells us something about Cruz’s long-term prospects. He got where he is by being smart and aggressive, and having the good fortune to be in Texas at a time when the Tea Party was ascendant. In high school and college he was a champion debater, an activity in which winning means getting in front of people and talking your opponents into submission. But running for president (which Cruz would plainly like to do one day) means getting a whole lot of people to like you. Fundraisers, reporters, other politicians who might endorse you, power brokers from the highest party pooh-bah down to every block captain in Des Moines—you’ve got to court them and make them love you so they’ll work their hearts out. Politicians like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush who excel at that personal side of politics have an immense leg up.

It’s one thing to be personally awkward, like Al Gore or Mitt Romney—that makes it harder, but not impossible. But if you’re someone who inspires this kind of venom, that’s another matter entirely.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, September 20, 2013

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“A Growing Opposition”: More GOP Lawmakers Balk At Chained CPI

At least officially, the White House’s offer for some kind of grand debt-reduction deal is still on the table. To the chagrin of the left, President Obama is prepared to accept the “reforms” Republicans asked for in social-insurance programs, in exchange for concessions on tax revenue.

GOP lawmakers, true to form, continue to reject the idea of compromise, and to date, have not pointed to any concessions they’re willing to even entertain. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) acknowledged yesterday what everyone already knew — there will be no deal.

But of particular interest is the growing Republican opposition to the one thing they said they really wanted as part of a possible compromise.

Two House Republicans have told constituents they oppose proposed cuts to Social Security and veterans benefits by reducing the cost of living adjustment, according to letters they sent to constituents. President Barack Obama included the plan, known as chained CPI, in his annual budget, but specified that he was only offering it as a concession to entice Republicans into a compromise. For Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), however, the concession is itself objectionable.

Note, we’re not just talking about two random House Republicans. Immediately after Obama said he’s willing to give GOP lawmakers what they asked for, when Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee who’ll oversee his party’s 2014 midterm efforts, accused President Obama of waging “a shocking attack on seniors.”

Then Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) said he’s “not a fan” of the policy. Rep. James Lankford (Okla.), the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, called chained CPI “draconian.” Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) said of the policy, “It’s not my plan… This is the president’s plan.” Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), a House Ways and Means Committee member, added, “I’m very sensitive to the fact that you’re impacting current seniors in particular. It’s something I’m very hesitant to jump up and down and support.”

Let’s be clear about the chain of events:

1. Congressional Republicans demand that the White House put chained CPI on the table as part of budget talks.

2. President Obama reluctantly agrees to put chained CPI on the table as part of budget talks.

3. Congressional Republicans criticize the chained CPI policy they said they wanted.

To reiterate a point from a month ago, it’s only fair to mention that plenty of congressional Republicans, including members of the GOP leadership, have welcomed Obama’s offer — while refusing to point to any comparable concessions they’d accept, of course — so this isn’t a party-wide phenomenon.

But we’re well past the point of Greg Walden acting as a solo hack, condemning a policy he supports because he thinks it might boost the GOP in the 2014 midterms. There’s a sizable contingent of congressional Republicans who have publicly criticized the exact same policy congressional Republicans said they wanted Obama to accept.

Shouldn’t that affect the larger discussion rather dramatically?

Remember, the White House doesn’t actually like chained-CPI. Obama freely admits he doesn’t want this policy, and only offered it because Republicans are such enthusiastic supporters of the idea. From the president’s perspective, he and his team are going to have to tolerate some measures they don’t like if there’s going to be a bipartisan compromise in which both sides accept concessions they would otherwise reject.

But that was before GOP lawmakers called this policy — the one Republicans demanded — a “shocking attack on seniors” and a “draconian” policy.

So, given all of this, can someone remind me what’s stopping the president from simply walking away from the idea he doesn’t like anyway? At this point, Obama could hardly be blamed for declaring, “I thought Republicans wanted this policy, but if they consider this a draconian attack on seniors that they cannot support, I’ll gladly drop the idea and we discuss something else.”


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 8, 2013

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Politics, Social Security | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: