Skip to comments.The Underpants Gnome Caucus
Posted on 02/16/2014 5:17:40 AM PST by Kaslin
I have to preface this column with a disclaimer: Im a big fan of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. His policy goals are my policy goals. But here comes the traditional but.
But although his goals are admirable and shared by conservatives across the country, he has no idea how to achieve them. In fact, his actions in the Senate, which are bringing him praise from conservative groups and grassroots activists, are harming the cause.
Its an unpopular statement to make on the pages of Townhall. My column Thursday didnt mention Cruz because it was written before he forced a cloture vote in the Senate on a debt limit increase. Yet, the comments, tweets and emails I received overwhelmingly cited his actions as its inspiration.
If I had that kind of foresight, Id be a multibillionaire from lottery winnings. As its Friday and Im writing another of these columns, this clearly is not the case.
But since his name was thrown around so frequently by people upset by my being a sell-out, a closet Democrat, a squish and much more, I think its important to revisit the subject of electoral strategy and the junior senator from Texas.
I would love it if Ted Cruz were president. But hes not. Hes one of 45 Republicans in the 100-member Senate. If the other 44 were Cruz clones, and all were in the Senate, he/they still wouldnt have enough votes to advance their agenda.
Sure, he could filibuster everything and shut down the government again, but the only thing that would accomplish would be to ensure there would be a lot of people referred to as former Sen. Cruz after the election this fall.
How can I say that and say Im a fan? Because its true.
I fully support the limited government, Constitutional conservatism Ted Cruz desires, but I also recognize he has no strategy to achieve it.
Cruz is a brilliant man, but that doesnt make him a brilliant leader.
After his move on the debt ceiling vote, he went on the Mark Levin Show to explain it. I know Mark a little from having interviewed and emailed him quite a bit, have enormous respect for him and consider him the best in the business. But hes not exactly an impartial jurist.
In defense of his debt ceiling move, Cruz said, If 41 Republicans had stood together and just voted no, the clean debt ceiling, the blank check that President Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi wanted, would have been denied. (The quote starts around 6:17.)
Yes, technically true. But then what? What is the next move?
Thats where Cruz loses me, and the argument. Principle is not a plan. Its part of the problem with Cruz. Its one thing to stand on the sidelines and tell others how they should have acted/played/whatever, when youre not in the game. But hes acting like an observer and he is in the game.
Cruz went on to immediately talk about Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and the Budget Control Act, which shows just how in the weeds he lives. Yes, theyre important pieces of legislation from the past, but they mean nothing to anyone who isnt already on his side. No persuadable voter, the people who swing elections, has ever uttered those words before, let alone voted either way because of them. If youre talking to a group of activists or someone as educated and engaged as Mark Levin, its read meat. If youre talking to anyone outside of that, its eyes-glazed-over and nobodys home.
Yes, people should know and care about them, and the deficit and debt, but they dont. Polls show majorities think the government should live within its means, but theyre much more concerned with jobs and the economy. Although all that is tied together, nobody makes that case in anything approaching a compelling way.
To make a difference, a politician must be able to convey important information in an easily understandable and even entertaining way. One may say this is a sad commentary on American culture, but that doesnt change it even a little.
Ted Cruz plays well with people already on his side. That includes me, but it does not include a majority of the American public.
Yes, we are a center-right nation poll after poll shows that. But what does it say about the ability of center-right politicians to convey that message when the center-right citizenry continues to elect and re-elect progressives? Those progressives from President Obama on down won by using center-right language and essentially lying to voters. They made better use of conservative language than actual conservatives.
Why? Because when he explains why he screwed many of his fellow party members, Cruz cited budget law from the 1980s; progressives beat him by talking to people like theyre normal human beings. Theyre lying, but their lies are more compelling than the truth, even when presented by someone who actually believes it. Thats a huge problem. And its a problem Ted Cruz isnt attempting to address.
What is Ted Cruzs plan to win? I dont know. I really dont.
Search his website. Look at the legislation hes sponsored and co-sponsored. There arent a lot of victories there. Moreover, there are not a lot of solutions offered. Where is his grand vision for the country? Its all well and good to say someone is doing something wrong, but you have to offer something in its place.
What would Cruz have done if hed successfully filibustered the debt limit increase? He rightly wanted concessions, offsets and reforms, but what was his move when the Democrats and White House said no? What if they simply had refused to negotiate?
We dont have to imagine the outcome. We saw it play out last October. Howd that work out again?
What Cruz doesnt realize, or hopes you dont realize, is Democrats and the White House will never negotiate.
Imagine youre sitting across from al Qaeda leadership to talk peace. They want you and all Americans dead; you dont want anyone to die. How do you negotiate with that?
Your opening offer is Dont kill us and we wont kill you. But they view killing us as their calling, and theyre perfectly willing to die. Do you find a middle ground with that? Some people can be killed, just not all? Everyone can have their left hand chopped off? What?
There is no answer because they just want to kill everyone. Progressives will not negotiate because they dont care how their policies harm people. They believe their goal is noble and if you have to harm people, trample rights, lie, whatever, along the way, well, thats just what you have to do. The ends justifies the means.
You want to purge the Republican Party of squishes, Im with you. But how about we do it from a position of power? A lot of the notes I got said we need to get rid of Sens. John McCain and Mitch McConnell before we do anything else. Great, but McCain isnt up till 2016. And McConnells primary opponent said this week, I'd be willing to lose the Senate if it meant keeping America. It doesnt.
If we dont win the Senate in 2014, we lose the Senate until 2018, at the earliest. There simply arent enough vulnerable Democrats up in 2016. So this is it our best chance for four years. If you want to burn calories and spend money and energy on Republican infighting, you may end up beating a few less-than-conservative senators and have a more principled caucus. But it still will be a minority caucus.
Theres a great South Park episode featuring Underpants Gnomes, gnomes who would steal kids underpants as part of their business plan. Their plan consisted of collecting underpants then ? and that would equal profit. The middle step, the important step, was missing. But the gnomes were convinced of the success of their plan nonetheless.
This, as best as I can tell, is the plan of those Republicans most vocal in their criticism of fellow Republicans. They are the Underpants Gnome Caucus, convinced their dislike of the current state of things will somehow change them. And Cruz is their chairman. If they dont start thinking and acting strategically, or find that missing middle step to turn underpants into profit, they will be the most principled members of the minority party in Congress.
I look forward to reading how Im awful and the problem in the comments, but Id rather read a well-though-out alternative plan that can win.
We have plenty of ‘process’ guys. Their names are McConnell. Boehner, et al.
Reagan wasn’t a technocrat. He had a vision and principles and he delegated.
We aren’t looking for an engineer. We want an architect.
When the inevitable crash comes, everyone will know that Sen. Cruz was right and should have been heeded, just as even the idiot in the White House has now adopted Sen. Cruz’s call of last September to delay the ObamaCare disaster.
The GOPe does not have enough millionaires who are fixated on taxes to win elections.
Whether this is true or not, it does appear that way to me also, which is why I think WI Governor Walker is Presidential material.
The GOPe continues its assault on the one man in Washington who actually appears to know how to advance a conservative revolution and MOST IMPORTANTLY is actually walking the walk. His actions are responsible for many RINOs being forced to expose themselves and his actions just might KILL AMNESTY this critical year.
I disagree completely with this editorial. What Cruz is doing is essential, in that he is confronting the Republican leadership, and “holding their feet to the fire”, to force them to either support conservatism or support leftism.
And when nobody did this, they *invariably* horse traded with leftists, giving them what *they* wanted, but giving conservatives *nothing*.
EVEN WHEN THEY WERE IN THE MAJORITY WITH A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT.
So enough of their foolishness. Cruz has backed them into the corner, so they no longer have excuses for their duplicity. And they are going to be punished for it at the polls.
Even their deep pockets Chamber of Commerce buddies, while they can pour money into their campaigns, they cannot buy voters who know they are rotten, and doing un-American things. Not just betraying conservatives, but betraying their country.
And for what? So that internationalist corporations can make billions at the expense of America and Americans? So that internationalist corporations can import “half-illegal” workers who will work at minimum wage with no other benefits, UNLESS those benefits are paid for by the taxpayers, like with Obamacare?
Conservatives are righteously outraged at such behavior. And only because of the actions of Senator Cruz and a few others, is the smog the RINO scoundrels cower behind being wafted away, and they are being seen in their nakedness.
With each and every election now, more and more of the RINOs are being culled from the herd and bitterly sent out to pasture, where far too often the openly embrace leftism, something they supported for years while pretending to be conservatives.
All too soon, enough of these louts will be deposed that people like Senator Cruz will take control of the party, and start to reverse more than a hundred years of progressive perfidy and failure.
Funny. I didn’t see plan from Hunter either. C’mon, Derek. Let’s hear it.
So what is Walker’s plan?
An expenditure of energy to change the current control of the treacherously tyrannical despot dingy harry Reid is a waste.
There is no need to attempt positive change. Better to outline and raise the issues than to waste time failing to actually make the change.
The day for the power to shift and the change to be real is coming.
Cruz is acting on principle, indeed. The more he makes stands the more he differentiates himself from the rest, both Dem and Repub. It is when the Repubs approach and take the majority that this differentiation will (should) be profound. He is setting himself up as the de facto leader.
I think his history in WI is a pretty good indicator of who he is, and what he can accomplish politically.
We have to root out the RINOs—and they are good at camouflage.
This helps us identify those we MUST GET RID OF!
Otherwise, its “amnesty” and the country is done for.
LMAO. Gee, it's CRUZ who doesn't realize this?!?! Is this guy kidding? We have been led by gutless wonders who do nothing but concede on the promise of "future discussions about XYZ." But gee, Mr. Hunter, tell me again how it's CRUZ (and by extension, of course you mean conservatives) are too stupid to realize Dems don't negotiate.
We went even further with actual RTW in Michigan and I sure as hell don’t want a Rick Snyder in the white house.
Senators and Reps. really can’t do much.....except talk and try to throw up roadblocks......he’s doing as good as he can possibly do.
Interesting article, but not entirely fair.
Cruz seems to be good at communicating his thoughts and principles, something that a whole lot on the right are not good at. Sure, digging into archaic policies and bills from the past won’t win many outsiders over, but I think it’s unfair for the author to criticize Cruz when it seems obvious he knew who his audience was and that’s who he was speaking to. Secondly, the “then what” of the shutdown was to get people to sit up and take notice of what was happening/about to happen. I think he was immensely successful there. Forcing a cloture vote on this latest spending bill? Great move. Now senators are on the record and can’t hide behind procedure.
I’m not sure what the author is wanting Cruz to do. Come out with a 10-point plan? A new Contract With America? That may not be his best use. He’s good at shining a light in the dark spots. Not everyone is meant to be the visionary of the future.
An excellent point.