WASHINGTON: A true cynic about American politics would, at this point, be forced to one conclusion: Senator Ted Cruz is a Democratic sleeper agent.
It is tough to appreciate just how much good Ted Cruz has done the Democrats over these past few weeks.
-- He persuaded Republicans to shut down the government rather than wait and fight over the debt ceiling, where they would have had more — and more dangerous — leverage.
-- He splintered the Republican Party such that, from day one, it was clear that the GOP leadership opposed the strategy they were executing, and GOP senators were publicly blasting House Republicans. That also served to cut the GOP's leverage.
-- He made this a fight over defunding Obamacare, which polls showed was a wildly unpopular reason to shut down the government, and which united Democrats against him.
-- He shut the government down on October 1, the same day Obamacare began, thus distracting the American people from the law's catastrophic roll-out.
-- He drove the Republican Party to its lowest levels of popularity ever recorded in polls.
-- He managed to make Obamacare more popular at a time when, by all rights, the law's extremely troubled launch should have been eroding its standing in the polls.
-- The culmination of the strategy is that Republicans are reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling in return for ... nothing.
There are no policy concessions from the Democrats (income verification is already part of Obamacare). There are no procedural concessions from the Democrats. Just the opposite, in fact.
Democrats managed to get the budget conference they had been pursuing for six months. They got a ceiling review of the length they wanted, ending before the next sequestration cuts rather than the six months that Senator Susan Collins proposed. They got a debt-ceiling increase all the way into February. This is far beyond what Democrats thought possible on September 30.
But the strategy Ted Cruz managed to force on the GOP was so suicidal that Democrats felt comfortable forcing Republicans to cave completely. They were so confident that they managed to reject a deal proposed by Collins and supported by many Senate Democrats because it funded the government for longer than the Democratic leadership preferred. That is a level of control over the outcome that Democrats never expected to have.
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Original headline: Is Ted Cruz really a sleeper agent of the Democratic Party?
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