Cruz’s speech motivated by attentionPosted on September 26, 2013 | by WSN Editorial Board
Tuesday afternoon, Junior Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ended a 21-hour, 19-minute assault on Obamacare. While not a full-fledged filibuster, his lengthy denunciation of the established legislation has proven controversial. More notable than the substance of his speech, however, was the response it elicited within his own party. Cruz’s positioning on the rightmost side of the political spectrum, and the onslaught of media attention that has stemmed from it, has alienated him from his Republican peers.
Conservative commentators Byron York and John Podhoretz took to Twitter to protest the critical coverage Cruz garnered compared to the positive reaction Wendy Davis received for her filibuster in June. But they failed to acknowledge the distinctions between the two. Tuesday’s events cannot be considered a filibuster, as voting was not delayed as a result of Cruz’s action. Davis could not break or stray off-topic during her filibuster, whereas Cruz was relieved by his Republican colleagues’ interjections, and passed time by reading Dr. Seuss and quoting “Duck Dynasty.” Davis and Cruz may both be from Texas, but the differences in circumstances surrounding their protests could not be more stark.
Did Cruz’s explanation for taking to the stage in an effort to defund Obamacare actually hold water? No one can say for certain what Cruz’s true motivations were. One rational way of judging motivations is by looking at the actions. Given that President Obama would veto any legislation from Congress to defund his own policies and that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would cut out any provisions slashing funds from Obamacare, there was no possibility that Cruz would meet his objectives. This suggests that Cruz’s actions were nothing more than an orchestrated attempt to attract media attention and acquire political momentum.
While the speech may not have helped the Republican party, it is doubtful that was the intention. According to 80 percent of Americans, threatening a government shutdown is an unacceptable way to negotiate — Cruz presumably knew this, and likely factored that into his decision to not actually filibuster the debate. Then why make this speech? The speech made Cruz a trending topic on sites like CNN.com and Twitter ahead of others such as Miley Cyrus. Such skewed media coverage, in an era where presidential primaries are often heavily affected by name recognition, encourages grandstanding in place of actual debate and policy making.