Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), you magnificent bastard. After a disastrous first week of his presidential campaign in which he announced he was signing up for an insurance policy from the federal Obamacare exchange, then proceeded to confound rationality and reason in his explanation as to why he decided to do it, Cruz has rocketed to the top of the GOP presidential primary polling.
In the latest poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), Cruz shot up 11 points, from five percent to 16 percent. That puts Cruz, who's been heretofore regarded as a long-shot, in third place overall. He's now one point behind Jeb Bush at 17 and Scott Walker, the current favorite, at 25. Ben Carson and Rand Paul trail Cruz by six points, tied at 10 percent.
There are several plausible explanations for this. Cruz is the first candidate to officially announce -- not an exploratory committee, a full-fledged campaign -- which lends certainty to his campaign beyond the others. Also, after a week of basically owning the news cycle, Cruz has augmented his name recognition among primary voters. But the fact remains he stayed mostly on-message throughout his first week, sticking with the (contradictory) talking points that Congress is both exempt from Obamacare and mandated to be on Obamacare because of Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) alleged amendment.
None of those things are true, of course. As we've covered for some time now, Congress isn't exempt from Obamacare; nor is it mandated to be on Obamacare; and Chuck Grassley had very little to do with the section of the law requiring the federal government to only offer Obamacare exchange policies as the employer healthcare plan. (Members and staffers can buy insurance however they want, but if they want it through their jobs, it'll have to be Obamacare.)
These three lies clearly and successfully hid the fact that Cruz obviously chose to buy an Obamacare policy over several other options because Obamacare is a better deal, especially knowing that premium-sharing reduces his monthly dues by 72 percent. All told, Cruz is getting the best of both worlds: affordable health insurance while still being able to campaign against Obamacare.
I wonder how long this will last, though. The other candidates are probably dying to hit Cruz for enrolling. Something along the lines of: "How do we know you're serious about repealing it, now that you've signed up for it?" If Cruz maintains his third place position, it'll put a much larger target on his back for these kinds of assaults. Hopefully.
For the rest of us, it's abundantly clear that cynicism and mendacity work miracles inside the bubble. Speaking of which, Cruz has been repeating over and over that he plans to repeal Common Core even though it's not a federal law, making it impossible for him to repeal it. Frank Luntz, the Zen master of political double-speak, must be slow-clapping for Cruz today.