Political Animal


April 29, 2013 5:10 PM Ted Cruz and the Squishes

By Ed Kilgore

There’s been a brouhaha today over remarks Sen. Ted Cruz made to a Texas FreedomWorks audience in which he mocked his Republican colleagues for an insufficient commitment to principle on the issue of filibustering gun legislation:

“Here was their argument,” Mr. Cruz said of his adversaries in the Republican Conference. “They said: ‘Listen, before you did this, the politics of it were great. The Democrats were the bad guys. The Republicans were the good guys. Now we all look like a bunch of squishes.’”
“Well,” he said he responded, “there is an alternative. You could just not be a bunch of squishes.”

This sort of talk, of course, will not endear Cruz to his colleagues (at least those who aren’t involved in the same bullying tactics), but so long as Republicans refuse to disagree with him about what defines Republican (or “conservative,” since the terms are now co-extensive) “principles,” then they really aren’t entitled to complain. I mean, if another Republican said: “No, I don’t believe Second Amendment absolutism is part of the definition of what makes us conservatives,” then they’d have made a valid point and begun a useful debate. But what they really want Cruz to do is to go along with whatever strategy they decide upon on this or that issue and then protect their flanks with “the base,” while saving all the demagogic fire for the opposition.

But if they’re not willing to challenge Cruz’s definition of “principle,” then they really are “squishes,” not for disagreeing with him, but for refusing to disagree with him as a matter of principle.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • buddy66 on April 29, 2013 5:20 PM:

    I'm tired of the Newspeak practice of dignifying reactionaries by calling them conservatives. Bob Taft was a conservative; Ted Cruz is a reactionary. The squishes are people who blur the difference.

  • Peter C on April 29, 2013 5:22 PM:

    Well, either he’s writing an updated version of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ or ‘How to Be a One-term Senator’. I suspect it’s the latter.

  • kevo on April 29, 2013 5:34 PM:

    Ted Cruz is a member of the Club of 100 for less than 6 months, and his bullying tactics are really showing just how much milktoast his Republican colleagues really are!

    I'm not complimenting his bullying, I'm just drawing a contrast between Cruz's nutzo intentions and those of his Republican colleagues who have seemed stuck in the mud for the past few years.

    Leaving Cruz's peccadilloes aside for a moment, when will the media honestly hammer home the point about 60 votes not being the norm, and how such a threshold is contributing to the demise of majority rule, and the denigration of our upper chamber's ability to do the necessary work for our nation? -Kevo

  • Dredd on April 29, 2013 5:37 PM:

    His logic is about as tight as the south end of a north-bound camel.

  • c u n d gulag on April 29, 2013 6:09 PM:

    Jayzoos H. Feckin' Keeeerist, testing his apostles for heretical idaes - does anyone really believe that the crap that leaves his not un-educated mouth, isn't done on purpose?

    He's dog-whistling so loud and long to his base, that if he was actually a dot-catcher in a town, no one there would still have a pooch to walk a few times a day!

    Instead, they'd be complimenting the owners of the local BBQ joint, Korean, or not, on their tender ribs, and wonderful slow-roasted loins!!!

  • Doug on April 29, 2013 8:36 PM:

    Using "matter of principle" in reference to ANY Republican political position?

  • Joel on April 30, 2013 6:52 AM:

    Know who isn't a "squish?" Each and every suicide bomber. Is that what Cruz is advocating for his GOP colleagues?

    To Cruz, the conservative principles of majority rule, compromising with your fellow American and politics as the art of the possible are what defines a "squish." Cruz is no conservative.

  • boatboy_srq on April 30, 2013 9:17 AM:

    Shorter GOTea commentary on Cruz: If he keeps this on being this overtly honest about our (ugly, racist/sexist, anti-Other unpopular) agenda, then we'll never be able to get it pushed through.

    BTW Cruz is educated - which only goes to show that there's a limit to what a university (even a respectable one) can do to mitigate wingnuttery in the student body.

  • smartalek on April 30, 2013 9:24 AM:

    I feel a bit like one of the WWII cryptographer characters in the film "Enigma" (a brilliant one loosely based on the history of the codebreakers at Benchley Park, scripted by Tom Stoppard, and starring Kate Winslet & Saffron Burrows, among others that I should know the names of):
    The Germans, realizing that one of their main codes had been cracked, have switched to a new one, denying crucial info to the Allies. The hero (*very* loosely based on Turing, who has apparently become straight in the process) realizes that an expected Nazi sub attack on a huge convoy then working its way across the north Atlantic will give them a key to the new code, because they'll be able to compare German messages in it to the known positions, directions, and speed of the convoy at the time of each set of transmissions.
    One analyst, realising they're going to be gaining their intel at the cost of the lives of sailors in the convoy, is appalled, but the hero character points out they're not creating the incipient tragedy, which is inevitable, but only exploiting it... for the greater good. To emphasize this -- and in an unusually blatant move for Stoddard, who's usually more trusting of his audiences -- when the German signals indicating the attack is commencing start to arrive, one of the cryptogeeks asks something like, "now, we're hoping for them to succeed? Or fail?"
    I know the Publican attempts to destroy the middle class, the poor, the economy, the environment, women's rights, LGBTQ rights, workers' rights, human rights, voters' rights, immigrants' rights, the rights of the accused, the rights of the convicted, the rights of any faith tradition other than Christianity (and eventually only certain subsets thereof), majority rule, the rule of law, the concept of effective government as a force for good, the reality of effective government as a force for good, our standing in the world, and everything else that is good and true, will -- probably, eventually -- lead to their downfall as a party, and as a political force.
    But I can't help but think of all the real live human beings, American and otherwise, who are going to have to pay some very steep prices, up to and including their lives, before that downfall occurs (if it does), and wonder:
    "now, we're hoping for them to succeed? Or fail?"