Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has a very clear target in his don't-call-it-a-filibuster speech: The Republican Party.
Yes, Cruz has bashed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for not allowing any amendments to the legislation that will, eventually, keep the government funded beyond Sept. 30 while stripping the GOP-backed provision to defund Obamacare from the bill.
But he has devoted the bulk of his time -- in a speech that is still going -- to calling out his own side. He lambasted supporters of "fake" and "symbolic" votes -- a not-so-subtle reference to the original plan pushed by House GOP leaders on defunding Obamacare. He repeatedly insisted that anyone who doesn't oppose cloture for the bill -- and that includes the likes of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) -- are, in essence, backing the full funding of the Affordable Care Act. He wondered why more senators weren't in the chamber to take part in the debate.
"Where is the outrage?" Cruz asked at one point.
The message is crystal clear: I get why Democrats are acting the way they are, but I don't understand why Republicans aren't doing more to stand by me.
Cruz's speech then is rightly understood as an indictment of his own party, a party unwilling -- in the Texas senator's mind -- to stand on principle when the moment requires it. As we wrote Monday, from the moment Cruz started talking Tuesday, it was clear that this speech had lots (and lots) of 2016 overtones -- and his focus on how he was the one true standard-bearer for the cause is obviously a (potentially) potent message in a GOP presidential primary.
Cruz's rhetoric won't win him any goodwill among the GOP establishment in Washington. And that's just how he wants it.
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