Lowry Sees Starbursts Again

It seems that Sarah Palin is not the only politician who makes Rich Lowry see starbursts. Now he’s swooning over Ted Cruz as well. And it’s funny to me to see Lowry, the quintessential conservative beltway insider, resorting to cheap populism in making an argument for Cruz’ genius. Lowry concedes that Cruz’ grandstanding didn’t actually achieve anything, but that’s okay because it made Cruz into the second coming of St. Ronald the Magnificent.

The Cruz all-nighter wasn’t a legislative tactic so much as it was what 19th-century anarchists called “the propaganda of the deed.” It made a point. It dramatically reaffirmed Republican resolve to repealing Obamacare. It drove more debate about the health care law. It perhaps opened up space for more realistic immediate Republican goals, such as a delay in the individual mandate, in the impending fiscal fights.

It also saved Cruz’s reputation among the tea party conservatives he cares about most. The House passed its defunding measure in a passive-aggressive mood, as if to say, “Alright, big guy, you wanted this — now let’s see what you can do with it.” The reaction in the House when Cruz said the measure didn’t have the votes in the Senate was anger combined with schadenfreude at his presumed comeuppance. Rarely have so many harsh background quotes been given to so many reporters with such glee.

By spending nearly an entire day attacking Obamacare on the Senate floor, though, Cruz demonstrated enough personal commitment and gutsiness to take the sting out of his imminent defeat.

In the longer run, the outcome in the short term is irrelevant to Cruz’s stature as a conservative leader. No one asked whether Ronald Reagan had successfully blocked the ratification of the Panama Canal Treaty in 1977 when he ran for president in 1980. For that matter, no one asked whether Sen. Barack Obama had successfully defunded the Iraq War in 2007 when he ran for president in 2008…

Who knows whether Cruz ultimately tries the same thing. But the scoffers are probably the same kind of people who chuckled at back-bencher Newt Gingrich giving speeches to an empty House chamber on C-SPAN so many decades ago. Gingrich was playing an outside game, and so is Cruz. The disdain for him among insiders will be inversely related to the admiration for him among the much more important outsiders.

They will sustain him in a crusade against Obamacare that, alas, will extend long beyond this fall’s fiscal fights.

This is a very common meme among beltway pundits like Lowry, the “he’s showing guts by bucking The Establishment and this will make him a hero among the people that really matter” meme. But it’s almost always nonsense. The problem is that the people that Cruz has made himself a hero to are a small minority. Only the most far-right conservatives want the government shut down to repeal Obamacare, which makes this populism without the actual popularity. And it may play very well in a Republican presidential primary that is determined by those very extremists. But it does the exact opposite in a general election.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    ” No one asked whether Ronald Reagan had successfully blocked the ratification of the Panama Canal Treaty in 1977 when he ran for president in 1980.”

    Maybe that was because Saint Reagan wasn’t in a position to do anything about it in 1977.

    The Beltway Villagers have this ridiculous Mr. Smith fantasy that one individual, through sheer charisma alone, can change the course of Congress. It’s the same thing like when they imagine that Obama can make republicans give up their blood oath to oppose anything he wants with just one Sorkinesque speech. You’d think people who spent their careers covering Washington wouldn’t be this naive, but they are.

  • eric

    Gingrich was playing an outside game, and so is Cruz.

    If so, his tactics are lousy. Giving a big speech the evening before the shutdown was pointless. In terms of PR value, his gesture got lost in the noise less than 24 hours after he made it. To everyone but Lowry, evidently. Or maybe he wrote this op-ed before the shutdown, and didn’t realize just how irrelevant it was going to be a few days later.

  • scienceavenger

    Nice to see Lowry is homoflexible.

  • marcus

    “But the scoffers are probably the same kind of people who chuckled at back-bencher Newt Gingrich giving speeches to an empty House chamber on C-SPAN so many decades ago.”

    After which he was removed as the Speaker of the House.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    So, what Rich Lowry lurvs him a bunch of is some pusgutted, venal piece-of-shit connin’ teh roobs outta their hard earned money (or their TANF, if they’re decent, honest, reptilicans who have fallen on hard times ‘cuz the EPA shut down their nu-q-lar powered lead smelter). There’s more than a couple of the former pieces of the USSR that would welcome Rich–as long as he brings his money.

  • colnago80

    Rich Lowry, the girly boy according to Ann Coulter.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    OH YEAH? WELL CRUZ IS GOING TO CRUSH OBAMA IN 2016! ALL HE NEEDS NOW IS A REAL FIREBRAND TO FIRE UP THE BASE WITH FIRE AS HIS VP!

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    Only the most far-right conservatives want the government shut down to repeal Obamacare, which makes this populism without the actual popularity.

    See question # 38 here: http://goo.gl/IPKg2S

    At 49%, a plurality of Republicans, almost a majority, support shutting down the government’s major activities to stop Obamacare. These people really are nuts and there’s a whole bunch of them.

    When it comes to those who self-identify as conservatives, a plurality don’t support shutting down the government though it’s close at 47% not to shut down vs. 43% who think we should.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Michael Heath, sure, but if you poll the Democrats they oppose a shuttdown by 90%. Therefore, the two side are the same, equal and equivalent (except Democrats are worse, because they’re so extreme they won’t repeal Obamacare and pass the Ryan budget to avoid the shuttdown their extremist base doesn’t want. This is also why the Republicans are Populist, which is a good characteristic. But only when Republicans pretend to be it. When Democrats are, it’s all pandering, cheap shots and divisiveness).