I've been arguing for the past few days that Ted Cruz is not embarrassing himself in the eyes of the GOP crazy base. The conventional wisdom is that he's alienated everybody in D.C., and therefore it doesn't matter how popular he is among the rabble. Left and center pundits are lining up to join the Cruz pile-on -- why, look, there's Frank Bruni with a column full of the "Cruz is an unloved boor" conventional wisdom.
Look, it's fun to watch a Republican being mocked. It's fun to see Republicans fighting among themselves. But I want Republicans to continue fighting among themselves. I don't want to join the center, the left, and the Establishment right in their attempts to marginalize Cruz. I want him to live to fight another day.
I notice that the anti-Cruz editorial in The Wall Street Journal today suggests that Cruz's strategy is largely about "fund-raising lists." That's a key issue. Anti-Cruz establishment Republicans don't want right-wing cash to go to Cruz, Cruz clones, and Cruz allies like Heritage Action -- they want that cash for their extremists, who are only marginally less extreme than Cruz (cash presumably channeled, in part, through groups like the Conservative Victory Project, which was formed earlier this year by Cruz foe Karl Rove to keep Cruz-style teabagger crazies from winning primaries). They want the money to go to establishmentarian extremists like Scott Walker and Chris Christie, who, they believe, could reach the White House and cold-bloodedly push through the Murdoch-Koch agenda (with the help of a Senate turned Republican) without engaging in quixotic, hopeless, off-putting Cruz-style crusades. They want Cruz and his allies out of the picture, so that they no longer make the right look bad in centrist voters' eyes.
I don't want any of that to happen. I want the GOP always to fear what the outcome the Journal editorial wants to avoid after the Obamacare shutdown battle ends:
...if things don't go well, let's not hear any excuses about "the surrender caucus" or claims that it would all have worked out if only everyone were as brave and principled as the generals up at HQ.I want Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to say just that. And I want his amen chorus to remain strong. I'm glad it includes so many voices the crazy base trusts -- Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Erick Erickson. I'm glad Sean Hannity feels he has to avoid saying bad things about Cruz. I want Cruz and his allies to keep pushing the GOP further right. I want this war to escalate.