You can say many things about the mad Canadian, Ted Cruz, however you'll never be able to accuse him of being afraid to burn bridges. Senator Cruz did just that on Wednesday when he forced members of his own party to vote in favor of a motion to bring the "clean" debt ceiling bill to the floor.
The old guard knew it was coming and they didn't like it. Prior to the vote Cruz had issued a statement which read, "Historically the debt ceiling has proven the most effective leverage for reining in spending; 28 times congress has attached meaningful conditions to debt ceiling increases. We should do that again to address the real problem. I intend to object to any effort to raise the debt ceiling on a 50 vote threshold. I will insist on a 60 vote threshold."
He didn't get it, but what he did get was a vote to lower the threshold from 60 to 50 which ensured the bill's passage. After 12 republican senators, including minority leader Mitch McConnell and the number two GOP member, John Cornyn joined with democrats to halt the filibuster rule the actual measure passed, 55-43 with the voting falling along party lines.
Following the initial vote Cruz shrugged and said, "...it was a victory for the Washington establishment."
Calling Cruz a loose cannon is rather like calling Moe, Larry, and Curly's brand of humor subtle. He went around promising everyone he wouldn't raise money or campaign for a couple of fellow tea party hot shots who are running against McConnell and Cornyn in the primary season. Now he might as well have, because he just gave the Matt Bevin campaign in Kentucky and the Steve Stockman team down in Texas enough fuel to last right through the spring.
Both of those yokels were already calling McConnell and Cornyn closet liberals to begin with. Now they can really bay at the moon and play to the torch carrying mobs. To make sure everyone knew what he thought of McConnell, Cruz told a reporter the decision to keep him as minority leader was, "initially" up to the voters of Kentucky.
Among those of the GOP voting to stop the filibuster rule was Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns. When someone asked him about Cruz he simply said, "He's new here."
Therein lies the rub. Ted Cruz is new in the Senate, but he doesn't plan on growing old there. No, the man from Alberta is ruffling the feathers of everyone so he can go on the stump in 2016 and portray himself as the quintessential outsider who shook things up in Washington. Indeed, it is easy to burn bridges when you view your Senate career as nothing more than a moving van taking you straight to the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Next month, while Cornyn and McConnell are fighting for their political lives Cruz will be in Iowa speaking to an arch conservative crowd which is holding something called, The Home Schooling Rally. This is a fairly significant gathering and it has previously drawn right wing presidential hopefuls such as, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul.
It is unknown if Cruz realizes the list of past guest speakers at the "rally" is nothing more than a ragged collection of abject losers who never made any sort of real run at the nomination, or not. The truth is, all he'll be caring about is he will be among his people and they'll cheer wildly at everything he says.
Sure--keep the dream alive for as long as you can. After all, when you're trailing a failed vice presidential candidate, an out of office governor, and some fat dude from Jersey in the polls you must remain positive at all times.
Ted Cruz appears to be the next coming of Big Joe McCarthy. That makes him scary. It also makes him, if history has taught us anything, a quick flame out. The trick is surviving his brutal and cruel demagoguery and bald-faced treachery while he is around.
Just ask Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn.