By Robert Mann
As Texas Sen. Ted Cruz frog-marched the Republican-led House into a politically disastrous federal government shutdown, I found myself increasingly furious at his self-righteous audacity. Closing the government and threatening the full faith and credit of the United States over the fool’s errand of defunding Obamacare was an act of political sabotage and an affront to our democratic process.
What an odious character, I thought. And yet, after surveying the wreckage of the Tea Party-dominated, Cruz-led GOP, I’ve reconsidered. I now see Captain Ted and his merry band of Kamikazes in a different light. After contemplating poll numbers showing Americans overwhelmingly disgusted with congressional Republicans, I find myself thankful for his “leadership.”
It turns out that Cruz is to Obamacare what Eugene “Bull” Connor was to the civil rights movement – its unlikely best friend.
Connor, of course, was the brutal Birmingham police commissioner who terrorized civil rights marchers in the spring of 1963 with fire hoses and German Shepherds. He jailed Martin Luther King and thousands of marchers, many of them teenagers.
Had Connor ignored the marchers, Birmingham would have been a footnote in the civil rights movement. Instead, the repulsive images of police officers attacking protesters with fire hoses and vicious dogs propelled Birmingham onto the front pages of newspapers around the world. Afterwards, public opinion pivoted sharply in support of civil rights legislation.
Connor’s monumental stupidity was instrumental in helping pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – so much so that even President John F. Kennedy defended him in a meeting of civil rights leaders in August 1963.
“I don’t think you should all be totally harsh on Bull Connor,” Kennedy told King and his colleagues in an Oval Office meeting. “After all, he has done more for civil rights than almost anybody else.”
- Ted Cruz Won’t Rule Out Another Government Shutdown (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Another day, another Ted Cruz tantrum (dailykos.com)
- Harry Reid: Ted Cruz is “a laughingstock” (salon.com)
- Ted Cruz: ‘I would do anything’ (politico.com)
- Crafty legislative genius Ted Cruz won’t say if he’d do it all over again (dailykos.com)