The press has proclaimed that it's the moment of truth for Sen. Ted Cruz — the day of reckoning, the week that will make or break his career. Or words to that effect. Journalists have pulled out the handy dramatic narrative that places the Texas Republican in a high stakes trial by fire as he seeks to defund the Affordable Care Act, while keeping the federal government open for business.
It's also a convenient way for the press to declare that (a) the Republican Party is fractured and in disarray, (b) the Republican Party is to blame for everything bad, (c ) the tea party is crazy. Or they're anarchists.
Mr. Cruz, meanwhile, is a force to be reckoned with, and has not backed down from his proposal, framing it with the straightforward finesse of a former solicitor general who penned more than 80 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and personally presented 40 oral arguments.
Headlines often speak loudest, though, as major Capitol Hill political theater commences. Among the most recent:
"Ted Cruz: the distinguished wacko bird from Texas" (GQ Magazine), "The most important week of Cruz's career" (Washington Post), "Gut check time for Senate GOP" (Fox News), "Cruz moment of truth: what is his new 'path to victory'?" (Christian Science Monitor), "Shutdown threat reveals split in Republican Party" (Los Angeles Times), "The GOP's reckless stunt" (Politico), "Congress: clock is ticking" (NBC News), "Ted Cruz is driving Washington crazy" (Salon).
NO ONE IS BLAMELESS
So all the unpleasant hubbub on Capitol Hill is because of those truculent Republicans? Well, not necessarily.
"If the federal government shuts down because Republicans and the Obama administration fail to agree on a budget, there will be plenty of blame to go around," says a Pew Research Center poll released Monday.
"About as many say they would blame the Republicans (39 percent) for such a standoff as say they would blame President Obama (36 percent), with 17 percent volunteering that both would be equally to blame."
It's a cliffhanger, too.
"The public is divided over whether a budget deal will be reached by the Sept. 30 deadline for shutting down the government: 46 percent say the two sides will reach a budget agreement, 45 percent say they will not," the poll says. See more numbers in today's Poll du Jour at column's end.
FOR THE LEXICON
"Health Care Marketplace"
The cozy new name for the health insurance "exchange" now associated with the Affordable Care Act; registration via a fancy new website gets underway in one week. Yes, the media will overuse the term, so prepare accordingly.
BIG GOVERNMENT JITTERS
No, it's not your imagination.
"Americans' belief that government is too powerful at record level," says Gallup analyst Joy Wilke, citing new findings from the pollster revealing that 6 in 10 Americans believe the federal government has too much power.
The number is 81 percent among Republicans, incidentally, and 38 percent among Democrats.
THE PRESIDENT'S BUSY, BUSY DAY
While New Yorkers are busy negotiating the traffic challenges posed Tuesday by the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama is busy negotiating his schedule. He addresses the aforementioned big deal gathering in the morning with first lady Michelle Obama present.
Then it's on to a meeting with John Ashe, president of the United Nations General Assembly, followed by a bilateral meeting with President Michel Sleiman of Lebanon, a meeting and a luncheon hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Mr. Obama then journeys to midtown Manhattan for an appearance at the annual Clinton Global Initiative. Will it be, uh, global? Well, maybe. There's always room for a big finale and a curtain call.
The president and former President Bill Clinton "will engage in a conversation about the future of health care reform in America, and the benefits of expanding access to quality health care around the globe," the White House notes in an advisory, adding "In the evening, the president will attend an event for the Democratic National Committee" before returning home later in the evening.
DALLY AROUND THE FLAG
Old Glory appears to be losing its cachet among lawmakers currently running for re-election. Many are no longer including the image of the American flag on their campaign websites — for reasons unknown. A University of Minnesota analysis of 441 active campaign websites reveals that 63 out of 221 Republicans use the flag; that's 28 percent of them. Among Democrats, 37 out of 189 use it, or 24.3 percent overall.
In 2010, nearly half of Republicans (47 percent) and one-third of Democrats (34 percent) featured the American flag on their websites, or 39 percent of those running for re-election. That marks a drop of 39 percent among GOPers, 43 percent among Democrats, and 39 percent overall, says public affairs professor Eric J. Ostermeier, who led the research.
"Is it no longer cool to rally around the flag?" he asks. "Members of Congress seemingly think so, at least when it comes to the visual symbols prominently featured on their re-election campaign websites."
THE COMMUNION QUESTION
Because of her longstanding support for abortion, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is a Catholic, must be denied Communion under the law of the Catholic Church. So said Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is head of the highest court at the Vatican. Cardinal Burke made his remarks in a recent interview, basing them on Canon Law, which governs the Catholic Church.
He specifically cited Canon 915, says Michael Chapman, a reporter with CNSnews.com, who notes the law states that Catholics who obstinately persevere "in manifest grave sin" are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.
"Certainly this is a case when Canon 915 must be applied," said Cardinal Burke in an interview in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly. "This is a person who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin cooperating with the crime of procured abortion, and still professes to be a devout Catholic."
The cardinal continued, "This is a prime example of what Blessed John Paul II referred to as the situation of Catholics who have divorced their faith from their public life and therefore are not serving their brothers and sisters in the way that they must — in safeguarding and promoting the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in safeguarding and promoting the integrity of marriage and the family."
POLL DU JOUR
• 61 percent of Americans say a government shutdown would have a "major effect" on the U.S. economy; 51 percent of Republicans, 39 percent of tea partyers and 71 percent of Democrats agree.
• 57 percent of Americans overall say lawmakers should compromise on the budget, even if they disagree with it; 43 percent of Republicans, 20 percent of tea party supporters and 76 percent of Democrats agree.
• 50 percent overall oppose House Republicans' proposal to defund Obamacare as part of the budget agreement; 24 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of tea partyers and 73 percent of Democrats agree.
• 38 percent overall support the GOP proposal; 68 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of tea partyers and 16 percent of Democrats agree.
• 33 percent overall say lawmakers should stick to their principles, even if the government shuts down; 49 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of tea partyers and 18 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,003 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 19 to 22.
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