If the United States Senate was a village, Ted Cruz would almost certainly be its resident idiot.
Yesterday Senator Cruz, a man who loves both controversy and the spotlight, pulled a political stunt that he is likely to regret. In a move designed to keep the goobers back home in Texas stirred up, Cruz announced that he would filibuster the bill proceeding through the Senate that would raise the nation's debt limit.
Before Senator Cruz acted, a simple majority could have moved the bill forward - and those votes could have been provided entirely by Democrats - leaving the Republicans free to act outraged and point fingers at those reckless Democratic big-spenders. Cruz's action, however, meant that sixty votes would be needed - and the Democrats only had fifty-five. (After the Republican-led government shutdown of last November, GOP senators did not want to be blamed for a government default.) Some Republican votes were needed, but voting for the bill would not sit well back in the red states.
The Senate Republicans got together and decided who best could take the Tea Party heat and vote for the bill. Several came on board with the Democrats and the bill to raise the debt ceiling moved forward on a vote of 67-31. (The final bill eventually passed 55-43 when all of the Republicans went back to their own team bench.)
Among those who sided with Democrats to keep the government afloat were my state's two senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain, John Cornyn - the other Senator from Texas, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. McConnell is in a tough race for re-election against a tea-bagger in the primary and a very strong Democratic candidate in the general election. He definitely did not benefit from the forced alignment with the Democrats - and he knows he will see that vote mentioned in the campaign - particularly in the Republican primary.
(McConnell should be commended for stepping forward and leading his party out of the mess that Ted Cruz created. John Boehner could learn from him!)
But McConnell is unlikely to be the only one who suffers from the Cruz ploy. The Kentucky Turtle wields considerable power on Capitol Hill, and he is not a man with whom one should trifle. Sooner or later Senator Cruz will have some issue of importance to the folks back home, and when he begins to count votes, Mitch is likely to take a powder. And then there are those all-important committee assignments and
Ted Cruz is overdue for a good spanking, and Mitch McConnell is just the guy who can deliver it.
Pass the popcorn - and let the spanking begin!