The Ted Cruz Roadblock

The media has started attacking Ted Cruz so much Mike Allen is whining about it in hilarious fashion.Ruth Marcus started it on the morning of Valentine’s Day.Jonathan Weisman did a story the next day on Cruz.Between Marcus and Weisman came an overnight Manu Raju piece in the Politico that caused Mike Allen’s tantrum.Writing the morning of the 15th, Mike Allen wrote


Jonathan [Weisman] was working on his story at the same time as Manu, and it’s not like no one had heard of Ted Cruz before. But in the new information world, it doesn’t make sense to pretend you’re sole voice talking to your audience. And you can’t try to pass something off as new, when the people who care the most about the topic have read the same thing 24 hours earlier. You’re The New York Times: Be confident! Acknowledge the conversation around a topic you’re imbuing with your unique authority. A clever way to needle Cruz, and give readers a priceless insight into the Washington ecosystem, would have been to say “emailed in a statement that was identical to one he provided to Politico.”

Boo-freaking-hoo.What reporters should be noting is (A) the herd mentality of the media — the Washington Post, Politico, and New York Times all seized on the same story within 24 hours with Ruth Marcus kicking it off as an editorial; and (B) much of the focus on Cruz comes from within Senate Republican ranks.The second point no doubt led to the first point and leads to a bigger question – why are Senate Republicans attacking Ted Cruz?That the media has missed this is another demonstration of just how dumbed down political reporting in Washington has gotten. There is an angle unmentioned, unreported, and intriguing with just a little digging.It all goes back to Mitch McConnell’s desire to be Majority Leader at all costs.When Cruz, who was opposed by much of the Senate GOP leadership in his primary against David Dewcrist, got elected, the Senate GOP Leadership put him into the NRSC. Ever since, the media has portrayed the move as a “balancing act” for Cruz. In fact, what many in the press miss is the mastery of Mitch McConnell in co-opting incoming Republicans. He takes them on junkets, gives them honorary titles, steers them toward preferred lobbyists to be their chiefs of staff, and puffs them up giving them the perks of leadership connections. But Cruz hasn’t worked out for McConnell as well as Pat Toomey has.So now we’re getting the standard leaks from the GOP. Many of the off the record statements sound very much like Lindsey Graham, who has said similar things in the past about growing in office.What’s more, the media is missing the Steven Law connection.Take Karl Rove out of the picture for a minute with the “Conservative Victory Project.”Steven Law of American Crossroads and now the Conservative Victory Project, by all accounts a good Christian man, ran McConnell’s Senate campaign then went on to be his Chief of Staff. Like many political consultants and lobbyists in Washington, he left McConnell’s office and has been a useful force for McConnell on the outside.In January, just after Senator John Cornyn announced that outside groups would be weighing in on GOP primaries, Cornyn happened to run into Steven Law in the Capitol. It would be reasonable to presume Law was up meeting with McConnell. Based on Cornyn’s statement after encountering Law back in January, Cornyn clearly had been briefed that Crossroads would be getting involved in the primary process.The Conservative Victory Project is nothing more than Mitch McConnell’s Super PAC. But things aren’t going to plan.McConnell roped Ted Cruz into the NRSC thereby implying that NRSC backed candidates would have Ted’s blessing.His former Chief of Staff then joined with Karl Rove to set up a so called “Conservative Victory Project” to support NRSC favored candidates who, by virtue of Ted Cruz being on the NRSC, would be presumed to be supported by Ted.But Cruz keeps acting like a real conservative. So now the McConnell leadership team must do what it did to Jim DeMint. The “grown ups” are whispering about how Ted just won’t conform himself to the ways of the Senate and behave like a “statement.” Their friends in the op-ed pages and reporters who covet leadership access are all using Republicans who sound like Lindsey Graham and Lamar Alexander to attack Ted Cruz.Conservatives damn well better pay attention to this: this is how Mitch McConnell and the Senate GOP bring pressure to bear on GOP Senators they think are not team players. Remember, they piled up on Jim DeMint after 2010 and extracted concessions from him that he would not engage in incumbent primaries.Now they are at it with Ted Cruz.Conservatives better lift Ted Cruz on their shoulders and let him know they appreciate him. Otherwise the slow, grinding pressure from Team McConnell will ultimately make Cruz yield whether he thinks he is yielding or not.And Cruz, by the way, should ditch the NRSC promptly. It should, by now, be abundantly obvious they are using him.[UPDATE:] Butressing the point, David Drucker of Roll Call points me to these two pieces he wrote about Cruz and the NRSC. From January 22, 2013:


Republicans who monitor the NRSC and are focused on GOP efforts to win back the Senate in 2014 believe Collins’ advantage over other candidates stemmed from his super PAC background and relationship with former McConnell aide Steven Law, who runs the heavyweight GOP super PAC American Crossroads. This connection satisfied the desire of McConnell and other GOP leaders to have more influence over NRSC activities in the 2014 cycle, sources say.“The relationship with Law was key,” one Republican operative said, echoing several GOP sources interviewed for this story.“It’s easy to connect the dots,” another GOP insider added.

And from January 29, 2013:

Cruz’s role as vice chairman of grass-roots outreach appears thus far to be rich in symbolism but light on substance. The goal, say Republicans familiar with the decision to appoint Cruz, is for him to improve NRSC communication with the grass roots and navigate what has been for the GOP a troublesome candidate recruitment and primary process.


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