GOP Civil War – Moderates vs Conservatives

Eagle Rising readers will not be surprised to hear me explicitly say that I am a conservative before I am a Republican. To that end, you’ve seen my perspective on certain issues as I’ve supported conservative Republicans and taken moderate and RINO Republicans to task for their squishiness. In light of that, over the last few weeks, a thought has been percolating in my mind. “Something is happening within the GOP, and it smells fishy.” These thoughts all came to a head over the last couple of days as I’ve watched and listened to Republican members of Congress attack Ted Cruz more viciously than any Democrat.

If you search the internet looking for examples of Democrats attacking Ted Cruz, you’ll find them. Some are more aggressive or colorful than others, but the attacks getting all of the press are from Republicans. The Republicans who were not happy with Cruz for his attempts at defunding Obamacare, said they disagreed with his “strategy” because he could not win. They also felt like his strategy would paint them as obstructive and out of touch. Maybe that was all true and correct…

stopfeedingRINOSBut haven’t they thrown any good they could have done out the window by opposing him when they began leveling these attacks at him? Who have they emboldened and helped with their attacks on Cruz? One word – Democrats. Conservatives are now very angry with certain more moderate Republicans, and Democrats have had to do nothing to fracture our party. In fact, if the moderates were right about Cruz’s strategy–all they had to do was sit back quietly and wait. If they were right, Cruz’s efforts would have died on their own.

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I don’t think the recent spate of attacks have much to do with fighting Obamacare. Maybe I’m becoming cynical, but I think the outrageous behavior by the “moderates” has much deeper roots than that.

Listen to Peter King (R-NY) in an interview he gave with CNN. “King called the Texas Republican a “fraud” and compared him to a “kamikaze pilot” who is only concerned about his own self-interests. “He’s not standing on principle, I don’t know what he’s standing on,” King said. “But he’s standing for a strategy that can’t work. It’s going to personally help him as far as his political status, but it’s going to be bad for the county, bad for the Republican Party.”

Does that make sense to you? King went on to say that his constituents think Cruz is “crazy” and that most of the people he represents disagree with Cruz. King represents folks out on Long Island in New York, and it’s possible they all disagree with Senator Cruz… but I find that hard to believe. Anyone paying attention over the last few weeks knows that Senator Cruz has a tidal wave of support among GOP voters. Rep. King’s vitriol for Ted Cruz seems much more deeply seated than some argument over Obamacare funding.

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) also intimated that Cruz was grandstanding, but he did so on the Senate floor saying, “I’m just asking the question. Is it more important to the senator from Texas and the senator from Utah that the people around the country watch this vote, or is it more important to us that we have a good policy outcome from our standpoint?” Cruz responded by asking Senator Corker why the Democrats would be voting unanimously with the moderate Republicans.

Tom Coburn (R-OK) went even further and implied that Senator Cruz and his allies were misleading (read: lying) to conservatives about their tactics. “They have been totally misled about what’s possible,” Mr. Coburn said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “If I could change Obamacare, I would do it today. It is a disappointment that we have put a short-term goal with lousy tactics ahead of being honest with the American people.” Senator Coburn doesn’t understand that most of us knew stopping Obamacare would be impossible. The President owns the veto pen, and he will never allow Obamacare to be undone. That wasn’t the point! The point was forcing Democrats in purple states to choose – either you do what your voters want, or you do what the White House wants. They would have been in a terrible position, especially with some up for reelection in a years’ time. But no, the moderate Republicans gave those Democrats an out by making this all about Ted Cruz… instead of being all about Obamacare.

Another aspect of this debate which seems to be eluding the moderates, is that the majority of Americans want Obamacare dismantled. This is an opportunity for the Republicans to be fighting explicitly for the will of the majority of Americans! The Republican Party should be unanimous in its attempts to stop Obamacare – they shouldn’t be arguing about tactics, they should be using EVERY tactic. The moderates can argue that Cruz’s option was not the best one, but the hand has been played, so move forward and support it. It’s the best chance we have on the table to stop it.

If the moderates cared about Obamacare, I believe they would have supported Cruz. I think he is right when he implies that by voting with the Democrats, they are ostensibly supporting Obamacare. Why? I don’t think this split has anything to do with Obamacare. It’s about the soul of the Party. The moderate wing is used to leading, the moderate wing is used to getting their way, and the moderate wing is scared that they are losing their power. With young conservatives stepping in and grabbing the issues of our day by the horns, it leaves the moderates as outsiders looking in. If Cruz and his conservative allies in the House and Senate hadn’t stepped up first to defund Obamacare, you can bet that the moderates may have tried the move themselves? How do I know? They did it before.

These tactics that the moderates are whining about were the same ones they were championing back in 2009.

“In late 2009, the Senate was debating Obamacare but had to shift off Obamacare to switch over to deal with military funding which had been included in a Continuing Resolution (CR). McCain, along with Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mike Johanns (R-NE), and Bob Corker (R-TN), all voted to hold up military funding before Christmas amid the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to the Senate roll call records.

GOPFightAt that time, Senate Republicans had only had 40 members so they could not hold up Obamacare at a cloture vote. Until Brown won the special election in Massachusetts, they planned to stall to try to hold off Reid as long as they could. They also hoped constituent pressure over Obamacare’s unpopularity would aid them if some Democrats had to face voters over the holidays. As a result, they actually filibustered a military funding bill in an attempt to buy time. “

Did you see those names? McCain, Coburn, Burr, and Corker… all have attacked Senators Cruz and Lee for using the same tactics they used back in 2009. The difference here is that they aren’t the ones leading the fight. Their names aren’t the ones getting the publicity, and they can’t stomach the idea that the conservative wing of the GOP may be moving into a position to take leadership of the Party. The problem that these moderate GOPers have is that the conservatives are gaining strength while the moderates are withering and dying. The moderates care more about holding on to power in the GOP than they do dismantling Obamacare. It’s why they attacked Senator Rand Paul several months ago and it’s why they are leveling their fire on Senators Cruz and Lee now.

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