Leave the Pettiness to the Progressives

Bob Corker

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the strange new debate between conservatives over what they call themselves relative to which side they come down on the Ted Cruz “defund Obamacare” effort is just that it’s gotten contentious at all.

But it certainly has:

Corker, a Tennessee Republican, accused Cruz and fellow conservative Tea Party-backed Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah of not wanting to vote on legislation on Thursday night because they wished to maximize their public exposure on Friday.

They “have sent out emails around the world and turned this into a show possibly, and therefore they want people around the world to watch maybe them and others on the Senate floor,” Corker said on the Senate floor.

“That is taking priority over getting legislation back to the House so they can take action before the country’s government shuts down,” Corker said.

And Corker, of course, is just the latest among Republican Party legislators to bristle at what they consider a display of hubris and spotlight-seeking by new conservatives in the Senate like Utah’s Mike Lee and the aforementioned Cruz of Texas. As Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon writes, The intellectual contortions seemed painful…:

Reading liberal blogs, and even some conservative ones, in the aftermath of the Cruz speech, one encountered post after post making the most Jesuitical distinctions between Davis’ filibuster, Paul’s filibuster, and Cruz’s filibuster, all so a particular author could claim higher intellectual and moral status than the senator from Texas…The criticism to which Cruz has been subjected is unlike anything in recent memory. He has been likened to Joe McCarthy, condescended to by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), called a “wacko-bird” by McCain, a “schoolyard bully” by Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.), a kamikaze pilot by the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and generally described as an anarchist, a nihilist, inhuman, and inhumane.

While Progressives foam at the mouths, Conservatives are supposed to be rational and calm and present a Pied Piper-like path of reason. Instead, they’re backbiting and calling names like petty, mean girls, even prompting those with influential voices — whether some like to admit that truth or not — to remark that, hey, maybe a third party in American politics isn’t just a kooky failed idea of the past.

It takes little effort to hurl nasty names and to suggest that someone following procedural rules is somehow an anarchist or worse; and this coming from Jonah Goldberg, who isn’t necessarily on board with the wisdom of Cruz’ strategy:

More to the point, petitioning Congress to repeal a bad law through formal procedures is not the kind of behavior educated people normally associate with anarchism. Indeed, the hypocrisy of liberals who find it somehow “extreme” for citizens to organize peacefully to overturn a law they consider bad and unjust is a marvel to behold. The Fugitive Slave Act was once the law of the land. So was the Defense of Marriage Act. Were those determined to overturn them anarchists?

Calling Cruz and Company cynical attention hogs seeking self-aggrandizement is akin to — ahem — elementary schoolyard rhetoric at its core. What’s worse: it smacks of something that doesn’t look all that dissimilar to jealousy. And if conservatives want to win hearts and minds — even if they are unsuccessful in winning the Obamacare defunding debate — they should really leave that kind of thing to progressives. It is what that side of the aisle does best.

And anyway, there’s some evidence to suggest that the much lambasted sound and fury over defunding Obamacare may actually be signifying something.

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