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.
Sure. But one should not confuse A with B.
Why not just leave everything alone ?
Why not just stop legislating for a couple of years ?
Why not go on vacation for six months ?
Why reform Anything that, if operated by operators that knew how to operate, WOULD operate, if not perfectly, very well ?
We pretty much have all the laws, rules and regulations we need to operate as a strong and sovereign nation ... WHY are people obsessed with gunking that all up ?
There are lots of plans out there like Rand Paul’s plan for failing cities to bail themselves out. The fact that I see Ted Cruz promoting those plans in social media tells me that he’s paying attention and thinking.
What this writer is trying to do is what the left does with Clarence Thomas. They accuse him of being stupid because he doesn’t speak much during court arguments.
Well, where is the McConnell/Boehner plan for opposing Obama’s policies? That plan, as best I can tell, is to wait until they have a Senate majority, which may be never, & go along to get along in the House.
What's the point of having another party if one kowtows to the other? IIRC, the Rats have been very effective when in the minority. Rats vote in lockstep with their leadership.
Pubs have a clear majority in the House. They control the Federal purse. They control House committees that could be doing some serious investigation of Obama & Co., yet they act as lapdogs of the Senate.
Could it be the poor House leadership? Imagine Ted Cruz as Speaker of the House. Things would be different, very different, IMO.
This writer, in spite of droning on for 1,400+ words, manages to either miss or ignore the utter castration and/or prostitution of the vast majority in Congress claiming to be from 'the right'.
The appeal of Cruz is that he has so far managed to maintain some testicular integrity, and more than anything we need 200 more like him.
A critical mass of voters will NOT line up behind an outfit that, while purporting to represent the opposition, march lockstep into every battle with white flags proudly waving.
We need unapologetic warriors, not appeasing whiners.
The point is that if we could get a majority, the Senators and Representatives could do what they’re supposed to do: create laws and pass budgets, instead of letting Obama take over all the powers of all the branches.
But by doing nothing except projecting a negative image (that is, just a roadblock and not a way to something good), Cruz and people in his mold are certainly not inspiring voters to vote for their party in 2014.
Conservatives don’t have to rise to the Ronald Reagan communications level, which is a personal gift that not everyone has. Reagan was a master at communicating, perhaps at least to some extent because he had been an actor, but also because it was part of his personality. However, even without the charisma of Reagan, conservative ideas for the way forward can be presented in an attractive way.
I agree with people who have mentioned Walker as an example of a firm fiscal conservative but one who was able to gain popular support not only through his ideas rejecting the Dem policies at the time, but by giving a positive vision. He’s not exactly warm and fuzzy in his public persona, and it was easy to caricature him as sort of a dragon, but his positive program for the future won out. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Cruz offer anything positive.
Walker’s situation in WI is nothing like Cruz’s situation in the senate. I like them both but your comparison of apples to kidney stones doesn’t put Walker ahead in leadership ability. It is easy to lead when you are the leader.
Nice turn of phrase
I'll credit you a time or two but then it's mine.
No offense Derek. I assume since you've made it to the Townhall pages, you've mostly got your act together. But the above sentence you wrote pretty much tells me you have twangs of RINOism peppered with tired old RINO dogma about what the impact of intense conservative discontent fueling some politicians' actions as being futile.
Frankly, I'd describe Cruz's Senatorial future representing Texas as a pretty long-term job unless your buddies in Democrat and RINO-ville have him killed or photoshopped in bed with a sheep, little boy or a dead hooker.
As for the rest of your article, I stopped right here.
“What Cruz doesnt realize, or hopes you dont realize, is Democrats and the White House will never negotiate.”
The Democrats don’t need to negotiate. The Republicans support them 100%. Why would one negotiate if there is no opposition?
But stopping Obama and the appeasement of his goals and desires IS a plan. We don’t need to propose alternatives; we need to stop Obama from getting anything he wants. I’ll settle for that.
Ted Cruz is in the Senate, not the House
Last time the GOP had the majority, it spent like drunken sailors.
The author is not a politician and if he had posted a plan, you would criticize it too
This got me thinking...and as a result I understand something, that I did not, until this morning.
In order for politics to be successful, disparate people, or groups of people, have to be willing to negotiate their disparities for the sake of a common goal. At the most intimate levels of politics, such as a home or a neighborhood, this is fairly easy, for two reasons: the disparate groups (husband and wife, or neighbors on the block) tend to be invested in each other and so are more willing to set aside differences, and if the effort fails, separation is possible (the husband/wife can divorce, people can move out of the neighborhood). At the national level, however, this becomes much more difficult: the disparate groups only know about each other what the media tells them, and the only means of separation is civil war. This may be one reason why representative republicanism was chosen by the Founders over direct democracy, so that the political negotiations would become easier...except that there was the presumption that all sides in a dispute would be willing to negotiate in order to obtain the common goals.
And here is where the light bulb was switched on in my head this morning. Those of us on the right, whether conservatives or libertarians, know that the left has no desire to meet us on common ground: we want to persuade the left of the truth of our positions, while the left, given the opportunity, would exile us from any places of authority, perhaps from any places at all. It is impossible to "do politics" with people who want you gone, perhaps even want you dead.
To ask for an "alternative plan that can win" is like asking how the Tampa Bay Rays can win the AL East this season--not in the present-day world of baseball, but in an alternative baseball universe, where the NY Yankees hitters are all on steroids and swing oversized bats, the pitchers beanball every Rays batter, the infielders sucker-punch every Rays runner, the umpires never call anything the Rays way, and the fans are too busy watching Miley Cyrus twerking on the stadium screen to notice what's happening on the field.
In this scenario, the Rays--and the right--have three options. Option #1 is to "go Galt" and walk off the field, which is what many on the right have done--Obama won in 2012, not because more people voted for him, but because fewer people voted for Romney. Option #2 is to keep trying to play the game by the rules, which is what the GOPe has done--McConnell, Boehner, et al keep trying to negotiate with Obama, Reid/Pelosi, et al, and the result is that the other side keeps winning, because the other side keeps breaking the rules, and the umpires (media) keep letting them.
Then there is Option #3. The alternative-universe-Rays don't walk off the field, because the game is too important--just as the right doesn't walk off the field, because the future is too important. But the Rays don't keep trying to get the alternative-universe-Yankees to play by the rules, because they understand that the Yankees only care about winning, regardless of the result to the game--just as the left only cares about winning, regardless of the left's destruction of the future.
So what do the Option-#3-Rays do? They perform the baseball equivalent of civil disobedience. Rays batters know they are going to be thrown beanballs, so they stand at the plate facing the pitcher, fending off the pitches, and occasionally hitting one. Rays runners know they are going to be sucker-punched, so they run around the fielders outside the lanes, or simply stop and block the sucker punch. Rays pitchers know the Yankee batters are bulked up and carry oversized bats, so the pitchers sit down on the mound and calmly say that they will begin throwing pitches when the batters get off the juice and swing regular bats.
In doing all of this, the Rays realize two things. First, the game will never get played--but the game isn't being played now, just a sham where the Yankees ensure that they "win." Second, the umpires will be constantly making calls against them--but the umpires are doing that already.
So what would they hope to gain by this? That over time, the fans in the stands, as their beer and hot dogs run out, will begin to look at the field rather than at Miley on the screen, and will begin to realize that the game has been gummed up by the Yankees, and the Rays are simply trying to make the game better.
And that is where Ted Cruz comes in. Ted Cruz can't "win" by his actions, any more than the Rays can "win" against the alt-universe-Yankees by refusing to be beaned or sucker-punched. But playing "by the rules," which is what McConnell, Boehner, McCain, et al keep trying to do, isn't getting us anywhere, because the opposition refuses to play by the rules, and doesn't want to negotiate but rather wants to destroy us. Only civil disobedience within the government is going to get the attention of the American people, because it is only the American people who can stop the left from breaking the political rules for the sake of destroying the right. That is why forcing the cloture vote last week was a shrewd political move, just as the faux filibuster last summer was, just as Rand Paul's Pollyanna-lawsuit against Obama is. Like Henry David Thoreau refusing to pay his taxes, like Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of the bus, Ted Cruz is refusing to pay for the left to make us sit at the back of the American bus. As of this moment, that is a very good start to the required American Reformation.
Does Michigan have a surplus and does Rick Snider plan to give it back to the citizen of Michigan?
Finally someone who gets it.
Yes Michigan has a surplus, no Rick Snyder is a progressive and doesn’t give money back.
I’m done voting for governors in presidential elections for a while.
Derek Hunter is the one in left field, he thinks Cruz is there to propose and pass more legislation...He is not, he is there to conserve, protect, and RESTORE the Constitution, he is working to RESTORE the republican party and return it to foundational principles, in lieu of a third party.
The republican party has a blown engine, the only way to fix it is to tear the engine down and get new parts with which to put it back together, Cruz is the mechanic.
"Cruz is a brilliant man, but that doesnt make him a brilliant leader. "
Hunter thinks a brilliant leader, must be a compromiser, compromise is the weak traits of leadership that got us where we are now.
"What is the next move?"
Now Hunter complains Cruz has no strategy, well the strategy is once the engine is torn apart, to put it back together again (Hunters problem is he wants it to be more complicated). The Dems and the Rino's know that, it is why they fear him so. Besides you don't boast of strategy to the enemy.
Cruz is focused on the blown engine, he needs more mechanics to help, that is what he doing recruiting mechanics, and he is getting them slowly.
How did the Dems get to be so powerful, they stick together on their principles, perverted though they may be, it's worked.
I could go on and on about this article, and if you understand what Cruz is doing, you already know this article is total nonsense.
What is scary is there are more than a few freepers who buy into this crap, maybe because they trust the writer, but who knows what their agenda is.
Oh is this why the Rat votes in the Senate go mostly against the Republicans?
A GOP majority spending like drunken sailors is actually something that can be controlled, and a situation in which Cruz’ approach would actually be the right one. We’ve just got to get that majority in the first place!
Also, another thing on the “debt ceiling” debate: it’s purely symbolic, because every time we get near hitting it, there’ll be a flurry of activity and it gets extended or something happens to make it meaningless.
So in a lot of ways, it’s a waste of time and it’s just what everybody calls it, “Kabuki theater”. Time consuming, meaningless, and just for show.
More of the same crappy logic: we need more RINOs so we control the government and vote in our version of big government. The problem with that should be obvious: we are out of money. The Fed literally prints money and gives it to the politicians of both parties to spend. Ted Cruz is one of the few politicians pointing out the how the Fed is destroying the Main St economy: http://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=760
Yet, according to this writer, Ted doesn't have a plan. How about this plan: shut down the Federal government.
History has proven that to be false.
“Principle is not a plan.
An excellent point. “
Actually, principle is a great plan when it means return to Constitutional Government and free people making their own decisions.
Now Obamacare is a plan, a huge monstrous mistake of a plan. I assume you are for it? Because after all, smart people have plans.
Okay, so I exaggerated. It still feels like that at times...
I agree with you. Spineless reps and senators doesn’t seem to have gotten us anywhere but deeper into this swamp of leftist pipedreams. Cruz is doing what is necessary, which is shine a light and watch the roaches scurry for a dark hole.
When the Commies decided to take over our political parties they went after both. They have been embedding their own people for close to 100 years, we have no choice but to do what Cruz is doing which identify and root them out.
I am from Ky and the only thing that gives me pause somewhat is I am seeing bumper stickers that say Obama ‘08 and ‘12 and a new one that says Ditch Mitch alongside. If the Democommies want McM out I have to wonder if he is doing a better job then I think. I don’t believe that he is but the enemy of my enemy is my friend comes into my mind.
IMHO we are too late. Voting out these people is impossible when they count the votes. I hope Cruz can do what he has set out to do, because the alternative is horrible. But personally I am ready for it, in my opinion it all comes down to basic math. How many of them for me is a fair trade?
Obama has no money to spend without it being appropriated in the Pub controlled House. The House could have passed individual appropriations, ignoring appropriations for Obamacare, the EPA, & a host of other socialist programs. The House could have refused to fund the IRS until Lois Lerner & Co. came clean. Same thing for the State Department re. Benghazi. If the Senate refuses to act on individual appropriations, then THEY are guilty of not funding the military & other essential functions of government.
The power of the purse is ultimate arbiter of what gets funded & what doesn't. With Boehner, the purse is always open, so the power of the purse is null & void. That is an abdication of power & responsibility. Going along with bad policy that is objected to by a clear majority of Americans is wrong.