Inside the Beltway: What Ted Cruz really wants

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It is important to remember that as former solicitor general of Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz penned more than 80 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and personally presented 40 oral arguments, including nine before the Supreme Court itself. The Republican lawmaker is also the first to say he “won’t blink” when it comes to Capitol Hill confrontations that challenge his principles. The result? Mr. Cruz is capable of some canny strategy, even as his critics accuse him of being ruthless, and/or unreasonable.

Here’s the reality: Mr. Cruz does not want to shut down the entire federal government, just defund the Affordable Care Act..

“Here’s what I think should happen. The House of Representatives should pass a continuing resolution that funds the federal government in its entirety, every aspect of the federal government, except Obamacare, and it should explicitly prohibit any funding for Obamacare, mandatory or discretionary. And I filed legislative language in the Senate to do that,” Mr. Cruz told CNN on Sunday.

“Now, the next stage. We know how this play goes forward. President Obama and Harry Reid will scream and holler that the mean nasty Republicans are threatening to shut down the government,” Mr. Cruz continued, noting that in reality, the required votes — 41 Republicans in the Senate or 218 in the House — simply aren’t there at the moment.

But it could play into a counterstrategy. What comes next, when Democratic leaders have the ear of the dutiful press? The Grand Old Party needs to get aggressive, dominate the narrative next month — and possibly turn the tables.

“We have to stand up and say, no, we want to keep the government open. We have voted to keep the government open, to fund the government. Why is President Obama threatening to shut the government down, to force Obamacare down the throats of the American people?” Mr. Cruz explained.

“This fight is likely to heat up in the month of September. That’s going to be when the battle is engaged. And, I’m convinced there’s a new paradigm in politics that actually has Washington very uncomfortable,” he observed.

CHENEY‘S NSA

It’s a rare moment with some institutional knowledge, perhaps: former Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at the fifth annual Freedom Conference at the Steamboat Institute in Colorado over the weekend. Mr. Cheney had some rare kind words for NSA director Gen. Keith B. Alexander.

“The biggest threat facing us are terrorists armed with something more dangerous than plane tickets and box cutters. Getting rid of the NSA is the last possible thing we should do. We need to protect this nation. I’d let Alexander cover my back anytime,” Mr. Cheney told the rapt crowd.

“The NSA is a well-run program. It’s an important program. The president doesn’t concur with a lot of views on national security. But you wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The president is not up to the job and doesn’t have the same core values we do. We shouldn’t limit our defense or defense tools. We just need to beat him in the next election,” Mr. Cheney advised.

See a delayed broadcast of his entire speech on C-SPAN at 7:30 p.m. Monday, which includes a wide-ranging conversation with daughter and U.S. Senate hopeful Liz Cheney.

Cheney detailed his time in office and talked about how national security was a top priority, especially after 9/11. He said the best thing U.S. leadership did at that time was consider the attacks an act of war,” says Matt Stensland, a correspondent for Steamboat Today, a local publication.

ONE MORE C-SPAN GEM

One more bit of intriguing viewing. Of note: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will host an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, scheduled for Monday at a choice Capitol Hill location. Also of note: C-SPAN will carry this event, which begins at high noon.

Among those in attendance at what appears to be a cordial but significant meal together: Allen B. West, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, Oklahoma state Speaker T.W. Shannon, RNC co-chair Sharon Day, Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory and Indianapolis City Council Chairman Jose Evans.

‘STILL THE GREATEST NATION’

Oh woe is us. Alas, it was a melancholy group on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. There sat New York Times columnist David Brooks, MSNBC host Al Sharpton, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Sheryl Wudunn; all appeared in solemn agreement that the proverbial American Dream had ebbed away.

Not so one guest, who appeared remotely from Salt Lake City.

“It saddens me actually to hear some of the things that I’m hearing here, because I think the American dream is alive,” interjected Rep. Raul R. Labrador, explaining that he was born to a single mother in Puerto Rico who “gave him life,” put him through military school, insisted he work hard and speak English.

“We’re still the greatest nation on the Earth,” the Idaho Republican told the panel, admonishing the panelists for their “message of despair,” among other things.

“If you listen to what Martin Luther King talked about, he talked about making sure that we were not bitter about what was happening in America, but that we had hope. It was a beautiful speech. And I think that the leadership, or the African-American leadership, needs to start thinking about that hope that Martin Luther King gave us instead of trying to get the community to think that everything is hopeless and without a future,” Mr. Labrador concluded.

BIG BROADCAST BUCKS

Who makes the most among the talking heads and late night hosts? TV Guide has “estimated” the annual salaries of the rich and garrulous in its latest issue, now on newsstands. At the top of the findings: Comedy Central fake newsman/host Jon Stewart ($25 million a year); NBC “Today” host Matt Lauer ($22 million); NBC “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno ($20 million); Fox News host Bill O’Reilly ($17 million a year).

And other sundry annual salaries: MSNBC host Rachel Maddow ($7 million), Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly ($6 million), CBS News anchor Scott Pelley ($5 million.) Incidentally, the biggest salary of all goes to Judge Judy Scheindlin, star of “Judge Judy,” who makes $47 million a year.

POLL DU JOUR

76 percent of Americans say technology is creating a “lazy society.”

69 percent say technology has become “too distracting.”

68 percent say it is “corrupting” their interpersonal communications.

65 percent say it encourages people to be more creative.

47 percent say they use technology “to escape.”

34 percent say it has a positive effect on their work productivity.

28 percent say they could live without their mobile phone.

20 percent say they could live without their computer or laptop.

17 percent say they could live without Internet access.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,210 U.S. adults conducted June 12 to 17 and released Thursday.

Caterwaul and doggerel to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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