What do Cruz and Warren think they were elected to do? I hate to quote Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), since the sincerity of his political speeches on the Senate floor is usually in question, but he was right when he said at the end of last week that the bill is “. . . a compromise. That’s what legislation’s all about.” In fact, many of the most important pieces of legislation of the past few decades have been born out of compromise — from the Civil Rights Act of 1957 to the 1986 tax reforms to the welfare reforms of 1996. The passage of the cromnibus was not historic, but it did keep the government running and averted a bigger problem, even if neither side got exactly what it wanted. And while the word “compromise” has been a four-letter word on the right for quite a while, it seems it has become offensive to the extremist elements in both parties.
Cruz seems particularly immune to taking advice or, at the very least, showing some respect for the expertise of others who have worked in the Senate for much longer than he has. And, just like his grandstanding filibuster that led to the pointless government shutdown in October 2013, Sen. Cruz has come out of the cromnibus debate with egg on his face. This time, it’s because his naive insistence on trying to pick a fight on immigration in the lame-duck session led to an opening for Sen. Reid to fast-track some Obama appointees that most Republicans would have liked to see President Obama abandon when they are in the majority next year. Whenever you hear Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, think of Cruz.
Meanwhile, Warren seems to be relishing her hypocritical image as an anti-Wall Street firebrand, and her fellow liberal Wall Street magnates and other assorted 1-percenters can’t get enough. Using a few anti-bank buzzwords, tired old clichés and some Occupy jargon, the senator who is most at home in the comfort of the faculty lounge at Harvard now wants us to believe she is the champion of the middle class and the potential savior of the Democratic Party. It will be interesting to see how her rhetoric plays among audiences with a lower concentration of hypocrisy than you can find in Manhattan, Hollywood and Cambridge.
The media want to bait and encourage Warren and Cruz, but each for different reasons. Warren is someone the mainstream media — or at least those who aren’t already in the tank for Hillary — want to promote as a liberal savior. Maybe they think she is similar to Obama, only perhaps more competent. The media want to enable Warren, and they are not going to blow the whistle on her hypocrisy.
Then you have Cruz, who they see as the embodiment of every negative stereotype of the GOP the media could ask for. Cruz is a southern senator who is belligerent toward all and contemptuous of anyone who thinks the Republican majority can do some good, even if it means they might occasionally have to yield to a Democratic initiative. The mainstream media have lost Michele Bachmann and they are looking for a replacement.
Anyway. Cruz and Warren are both freshman senators who have clearly decided that they would rather be loud than be effective. It used to be that when senators were elected, they might make rookie mistakes and they were held to account. One needed to be sure-footed, cautious and temperate; ignorance was no excuse. But if the actions of Cruz and Warren are any indication, it seems that ignorance has become desirable in and of itself. These two — with their antagonistic speeches and self-important tirades — may be tailor-made for cable TV and get a lot of attention, but at the end of the day, neither one seems ready to contribute to a period of progress.
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