- - Monday, September 30, 2013

C-SPAN is more powerful than a fleet of little red wagons, but it felt a lot like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” as Sen. Ted Cruz demolished the legitimacy of Obamacare in his 21-hour, 19-minute floor speech last week.

In the classic film, a naive junior senator played by Jimmy Stewart performs a heroic, overnight filibuster to expose corruption. The media suppress it and viciously attack his character. An army of wagon-pulling children try to report the truth via homespun “newspapers,” only to be waylaid by thugs.

Director Frank Capra, who played American heartstrings like a world-class harpist, giving people hope that truth will triumph (as Stewart’s Sen. Jefferson Smith does), would have loved what was televised on C-SPAN 2 on Sept. 24-25.

Hour after hour, aided by long questions from fellow Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and others, Mr. Cruz not only exposed the socialist intent of Obamacare, but also the big-government mindset that is steadily destroying our freedoms.

He gave a lesson in political boxing, dispatching Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who tried to put him on the defensive the way they usually do so easily to Republicans. Mr. Cruz had none of it, including Mr. Reid’s attempt to hijack the speech during the last hour. When’s the last time you saw a Republican blunt attacks by not backing up an inch and swinging hard?

Oh, right. It was Mr. Cruz, during a hearing on March 14 in which he lectured Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California about the Second Amendment.

Those not watching Mr. Cruz’s actual speech can be forgiven if they think the senator from Texas was on a fool’s errand. As in “Mr. Smith,” the drive-by scribes are spinning a single narrative: Mr. Cruz is a narcissist whose reckless taste for confrontation will hurt the GOP in 2014.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos opened “Good Morning America” on Wednesday by describing “Tea Party Senator” Cruz’s speech as “bizarre.”

By contrast, notes Media Research Center’s Scott Whitlock, “the networks in June fawned over Democrat Wendy Davis’ pro-abortion filibuster in Texas, hailing it as ‘epic’ and praising the state senator as a ‘folk hero.’”

CBS’ Norah O’Donnell posed this question to Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee: “Are you concerned that what your fellow senator is doing could hurt your party’s chances of taking back the U.S. Senate?”

Nonsense. Without Mr. Cruz, Mr. Lee, and other Republicans such as Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, the GOP wouldn’t even have a message in 2014 other than: “We fought Obamacare and other stuff, sort of, and failed, but .”

They’d go to the GOP’s fallback message, as framed by The Washington Times’ Wesley Pruden: “Republicans: We’re not as bad as you think.”

That wouldn’t motivate the kind of outpouring seen in 2010, when a Tea Party-led uprising gave Republicans the U.S. House and numerous state governorships and statehouses.

Americans have not seen Mr. Cruz’s kind of strong, articulate leadership since Ronald Reagan. Mr. Cruz employed humor, stamina and a formidable command of the facts, and expressed passion without bitterness.

It didn’t spare him the usual savagery reserved for Republicans who won’t cave on cue. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews ranted, calling Mr. Cruz “totally destructive” and “a problem for our republic,” who exhibits “pretty extreme behavior.” Mr. Matthews, who had Republican strategist John Feehery and Democratic Rep. James P. Moran of Virginia echo his attacks, said, “I did not learn a thing” from the speech. Well, of course not. You need ears that aren’t stuffed with left-wing glue.

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