Some DC reporters seem to think only the leadership has any power

Chris Cilizza writes, "Ted Cruz isn't planning to be in the Senate for very long." Here is a condensed version of Cilizza's argument:

[T]his latest gambit by Cruz may well be the most telling because it directly impacts two men who, if Cruz had any thought of sticking around the Senate for any extended period of time, not only could, but would make life very uncomfortable for him.

McConnell and Cornyn, both of whom are favorites to win their primaries, will never forget Cruz's move this past week.

Cruz won't be climbing the leadership ladder. Ever.

Well, duh. Cruz won't be climbing the leadership ladder. So what? That means nothing about whether he'll be in the Senate for 2 years or 40 years.

But two points:

1. Political reality trumps whatever hurt feelings have occurred now. Cornyn needs Cruz more than Cruz needs Cornyn. It's been true so far and probably will remain so for awhile. McConnell is also a pretty sharp observer of political reality -- just witness his charm offensive of Rand Paul.

Put differently: Ted Cruz's power base is conservatives across America, not the personal feelings of the current occupants of the Senate GOP leadership offices. If Ted Cruz maintains his popularity with those folks, then the leadership can't afford to antagonize Senator Cruz.

2. Not everyone who angers the leadership goes on to a short tenure in the US Senate. Jesse Helms served in the US Senate for 30 years if memory serves. Despite poking the leadership in the eye as much as possible, he managed to chair both the Agriculture and Foreign Relations Committees.

Hedrick Smith's seminal book on Congress described Helms as a "devastatingly effective power broker" in large part because he refused to toe the leadership line. Cilizza might want to re-read it.

I know Ted Cruz cares about ideas. If you observed him on the campaign trail in 2012, you'd have noticed that he was most engaged with voters when discussing issues, and the more arcane, the better.

So as long as the US Senate is his best opportunity to defend liberty, then I imagine you'll still find Ted Cruz there.

Posted by Evan @ 02/19/14 09:11 PM

 
 

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** Hedrick Smith's seminal book on Congress described Helms as a "devastatingly effective power broker" in large part because he refused to toe the leadership line. Cilizza might want to re-read it. **

Heh, actually, I wouldn't mind giving it a good re-read (must admit I only skimmed it way back when). Sample sent to Kindle as a reminder -- appreciate the nudge from PvW! ;)

Posted by kevin @ 02/20/14 07:43 AM


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