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From reader John K:

A lot of folks are slamming Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) as a self-aggrandizing politician who stole the spotlight and set the Republicans on a course for ruin. But this is a ridiculous criticism that is easily debunked.

First, it is worth asking, "As opposed to what?" Isn't it a tautology to say that politicians are self-aggrandizing people who want the spotlight? This criticism is a bit like asking why a dog licks their testicles. The answer is: because they can.

Secondly, it is the center of the criticism to say that Cruz was on a fool's errand and that his strategy did not really have an end game and therefore he was wrong to fight at all. But this isn't a legitimate critique at all. Are people trying to say that Washington's army in New York knew that a victory was certain six years later? Or that the Russians were certain within a reasonable doubt that throwing bodies into the breach at Stalingrad would be a successful tactic? Or that the Jobs that the Newton mobile strategy was a winner? Each of those were stunning losses on the way to eventual victories. But obviously the eventual victory never would have been achieved had the protagonists not had the courage to act at all.

Next, the criticism of Cruz, and by extension the Republicans, that the government shutdown on the back of Obamacare is a fight that is not winnable. Well, if past results are any indication of the future, that is certainly true, since it has been true for five years now and the House has never picked any other fight against Obamacare using the power of the purse. Put another way, the heart of this criticism is simply that the Democrats outmaneuvered the GOP at every turn in passing Obamacare, winning every battle through some combination of parliamentary tactics and sheer gumption, and now the Republicans can only win a victory by fighting back in kind. One presumes that had Cruz found some hidden Senate rule that overrides a cloture vote as opposed to speaking for a day, he would be applauded.

This line of criticism is silly...

Was Washington breaking the rules by crossing the Delaware and attacking Trenton? Was a minor victory like Trenton worth the risk of losing his army to the freezing waters of the river? Sometimes fights are about more than simple material advantage.

At any rate, the totality of the criticism of Cruz seems merely to be a criticism of the incompetence and parliamentary ineptitude of Republicans by other means. In this light, it's not really important whether Cruz is worthy of any of these criticisms, but that he planted the flag on a hill where the battle lines are well defined and that most Americans are on his side. One appreciates that his act, with so many political ramifications, at least served to start a fight that so many Americans are ready to have, away from the darkened Congressional back rooms. Whether Cruz did that with calculation or by happy accident, it is time that Republicans follow him, and the American people, into the breach.

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