Marco Rubio isn't thinking about what's good for the country at a time like this, nor is he even thinking as far as the 2016 general election for president that he hopes to win -- all he's thinking about is securing the 2016 Republican nomination. And that's why he's taking an oh-so-brave stand against the Senate's debt ceiling deal by stating publicly, right into the cameras, that he'll be voting against it. Now keep in mind, he's not actually planning to do anything in his power to stop the deal; he's simply going on record as saying he doesn't approve of it and he'll stage a completely and purposely ineffectual symbolic protest against it with his one vote.
Here's the salient, Patrick Henry-esque quote:
"I cannot support this deal because it postpones any significant action on pro-growth and spending reforms and does nothing to provide working class Americans even one shred of relief from ObamaCare’s harmful effects."
Very courageous. It's also bullshit. He's doing this because he knows he knows it's a completely safe move since he can be relatively certain his vote is meaningless and won't stand in the way of the deal's passage and the consequent default and financial catastrophe in the wake of it. The possible collapse of the U.S. and global economy aren't on his shoulders the way a single-handed stand against the proposal would put it.
Speaking of that, Ted Cruz is also full of crap. Both Ashby over at Cesca's blog and Dave Weigel at Slate have brought this up but it bears repeating: Cruz's post-deal concession that he doesn't plan to hold up the the progress made by his counterparts may tip his hand and show that he never actually intended to take the full brunt of the blame for this crisis to begin with. His nonsense phony filibuster a couple of weeks back may have generated headlines for him but in the end it had little impact on the actual pursuit of a deal or its timing. Now he has a chance to actually stop the deal he feels is such blasphemy and what does he do? Nothing. He steps aside. He does this because he doesn't want to be chased down by the torch-and-pitchfork mob that will draw and quarter him on the Capitol steps for tanking the planet (or the big-money business interests that will see to it he mysteriously vanishes into thin air).
But the fact that many have believed Cruz insane enough to single-handedly bring down the economy shows that our perception of him is a far cry from what it used to be.
He's no longer viewed as the GOP's answer to Barack Obama. The media views him as the Sarah Palin of the Senate. And by pledging so many times to do EVERYTHING HE COULD to block Obamacare, he didn't exactly work to prevent that slide.
What's truly disconcerting about both Cruz's and, particularly, Rubio's willingness to make a symbolic stand against the Senate deal to save the country from disaster is that both assume it will benefit them during the next election cycles. Rubio's gambit shows that he figures the Republican party will reward him for taking the kind of hard-line stand he is on the debt ceiling deal right up to the bitter end. He believes that this nightmare won't have soured moderate Republicans on the Tea Party and they'll still embrace the farthest-right fringe and elevate it all the way to the GOP presidential nomination. That's a terrifying thought, that there are those within the GOP who continue to think the problem is that the party just isn't ideologically pure and far-right enough.
But that's the narrative already being pushed by the right-wing media, which has a complete stranglehold on the GOP imagination. Blowhards like Erick Erickson and Rush Limbaugh are already bemoaning the Senate "betrayal" and calling for revolt against those who came to their senses and were willing to stop a calamity.
"I am tired of funding Republicans who campaign against Obamacare then refuse to fight. It's time to find a new batch of Republicans to actually practice what the current crop preaches."
"The media and the Democrats have convinced these conservatives -- and I'm not talking about the Tea Party guys. The Tea Party guys are still okay. There might be a couple wavers in there, but the Tea Party people are still pretty solid. I'm talking about everybody else. They're the ones that just want to end this and get away and go home and forget it and pretend it never happened."
As usual, it wasn't the message that was problem, it was the messengers not willing to stick to it and fight hard enough for it. The people with the biggest bullhorns still believe this, despite dismal poll numbers for the GOP in the wake of the debt ceiling miasma. What does this likely mean for the GOP and the rest of us? More of the same. More insanity. At least until the tea-bagging idiots actually break off and form their own party -- but that would require moderate Republicans to completely stop listening to them and giving them any authority. Anybody wanna bet on that happening?