Many readers are pushing back on this post:
Sorry, Andrew, but you’re dead wrong. Why? The existence of the filibuster. There is nothing wrong with a Senator saying, “Hey, I don’t like raising the debt ceiling clean, but I realize that if I take Ted Cruz’s position, then the country is screwed because we’ll default. So I vote for cloture – avoiding the disaster – but vote no, because I really don’t like the clean bill.” That’s not corrupt or insincere; it is realism at its best. It is like the votes we’ve seen on Supreme Court Justices, where Senators vote for cloture because they think the filibuster is inappropriate in such a circumstance, but vote no on the nominee – again, it’s not corrupt or insincere. If you don’t like it, get rid of the filibuster and/or the debt ceiling, but don’t think it would have been more honorable for McConnell or McCain to vote like Cruz. It would have ended in disaster. They knew it, and avoided it. They deserve kudos.
I can see how my point could have been misread and apologize for the compression. Lots of readers objected. So let me try again.
In this case, yes, the premise for the disingenuousness among McCain, McConnell, et al. is the filibuster, whose abuse is, I agree, a problem. And in so far as McConnell wanted to avoid a filibuster, I agree with many readers that it was a good thing. But McConnell’s motive was not opposition to filibuster abuse. It was not wanting to vote for something he actually supported, for fear it could damage him for re-election. Of course, that kind of maneuvering is necessary now and again. It can be a regular tactic in tough political choices. But when it becomes completely reflexive – when so much of public policy is determined not by sincere positions on policy but almost entirely by cynical, self-interested positioning, it’s no surprise Americans loathe Washington so much.
That’s my point. And on that one, Cruz’s critique – if not Cruz himself – is not one to be dismissed. Or under-estimated.