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September 25, 2013 1:46 PM Cruz the Vox Populi Jumps the Shark

By Ed Kilgore

Early today I commented on the curious nature of Ted Cruz’s claims to speak for some sort of silent majority of Americans who want to repeal Obamacare but are being thwarted by some bipartisan conspiracy. There’s no evidence for that proposition, other than the willful misinterpretation of public opinion surveys. And it’s also a bit unseemly for self-styled constitutional conservatives to suddenly talk as though the Senate should be a direct transmission belt for majority sentiment.

To be sure, many pols (and pundits) get into a bad habit of reinforcing their opinions by saying “Americans want” or “the people have concluded” then they have done no such thing. Sometimes conservatives court disaster by modifying such claims to refer to the views of “real Americans” or “makers” as having disproportionate legitimacy, but at least they are being honest about it.

But what can it possibly mean when Ted Cruz says this, as he did during his 21-hour “talk” on the Senate floor:

Everyone in America knows Obamacare is destroying the economy. Where’s the urgency?

Obviously “everyone in America” does not “know” that “Obamacare is destroying the economy.” I’d say a good 95% of economists “know” otherwise, and if public opinion surveys about shutting down the government to “defund” Obamacare are any indication, “everyone” is capped at the 19% who agree with Cruz that trying to stop Obamacare is worth a government shutdown.

Not being able to peer into Cruz’s famously large brain, I’d have to say his tendency to claim vastly more public support for his positions than actually exists reflects his exclusive focus on the Fox-watching “base,” where “everyone” believes all sorts of strange things. But it’s still insanely annoying to hear him talk this way.

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.

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