There are times when it feels like Charlie Pierce really is a national treasure, and right now is definitely one of them. In a quick piece just posted a little while ago, the Esquire political columnist and writer-at-large nails the grim reality of what Ted Cruz's seemingly futile pretend-filibuster means for him and the rest of the country. And it isn't pretty. Despite all the snooty dismissals of Cruz and his lunacy that you've heard and read over the past 24-hours -- most of which is, on the surface, entirely fair and understandable -- Cruz has already scored a victory simply by virtue of all the press he's gotten. Sure he's been engaging in hostage politics, the kind of thing we've gotten used to from the intransigent right, and his own party has in large part turned against him, but that doesn't mean a damn thing to his constituents in Texas. Remember, these are the people who in shockingly large numbers want to see Texas secede from the United States (we're talking about Texas Republicans here).
As Pierce spells out, by turning his back completely on the kind of politics we've come to expect from Washington -- partisan, yes, but at least somewhat engaged in with the goal of keeping the country functioning -- and thumbing his nose at everyone, he's become a folk hero to the only people who matter: those who'll put his relatively useless ass back in office when the time comes. More than that, though, Cruz is spelling out and dictating in no uncertain terms that his small splinter cell within the establishment GOP is so vocal that it is the GOP. This could certainly be the death throes for the Tea Party, but think about how many times we've heard that song sung.
To dismiss this as a dog-and-pony show just because its immediate goals will not be achieved is to miss a very important point. What Ted Cruz is doing is showing the country what the future of American conservatism looks like. That is a future that has been rendered inevitable by the Republican party's shameless refusal to control the wildness at the party's heart, and by the Democratic party's pathetic inability to make the Republican party pay for that refusal. In the glib immediate Beltway reaction to what Cruz is doing, I hear a dangerous similarity to the ridicule heaped on Barry Goldwater after his campaign was crushed in 1964. Nobody was laughing any more in 1980.
The world is watching one idiot Senator from Texas hijack the government and whether or not he "wins" in the traditional sense hardly matters. He's already won. Salon can tweet that "this is what the beginning of the end of Ted Cruz's rule over the GOP looks like," and the rest of us can mercilessly, rightly mock him, but Cruz has secured both his own legacy -- and likely a prime spot within the conservative entertainment complex when his Senate run is over -- and that of the ridiculous political movement he represents. I'd like to believe we're capable of jettisoning the angry white yokel baggage from national-scale politics in this country, but I just don't see that happening -- not anytime soon.
Speaking of which, GQ magazine published an article recently with the designed-to-troll title "Ted Cruz: The Distinguished Wacko Bird from Texas." The responses to it from readers, or at least people who had it read to them and yet still inexplicably seem to be able to turn on and operate a computer, are, well, as expected.
They start with, "Ted Cruz is more of a MAN than any of you fucktards at GQ will ever be," and go downhill into predictable territory from there. You're welcome.