The recent filibuster by Ted Cruz has been compared against that of Wendy Davis in Texas earlier this year. The differences of opinion illustrate the differences between liberals and conservatives, media coverage and what can only be described as the stupidity of some liberal commentators. Nowhere is this more evident than in a recent article by David Weigel at Slate. This is a “journalist” who once basically wished death upon Rush Limbaugh. Hired as a “journalist” to cover conservatives and the Tea Party, leaked e-mails indicated that he was hardly disinterested and objective by claiming the Tea Party was out to “angrily divide America” and calling them Rand Paultards.
Liberal journalists generally live in an insulated liberal world from which they cannot objectively step out of and report without bias. Thus when a Ted Cruz or a Rand Paul stands on the floor of the United States Senate in 20-hour marathons, the natural tendency of Weigel and his liberal cohorts is to denigrate and minimize these actions. What is particularly galling about Weigel, however, is that when the same actions are taken by a liberal for a liberal cause, then the denigration of the tactic and the person suddenly ceases. This simply exposes the double standard of most liberals- like the liberal who demands more public school funding while sending their kids to private school (e.g., Matt Damon and others). No matter how one cuts it, it is rank hypocrisy. When brought to his/their attention, the backs come up and they go into attack mode, which is what Weigel did in his Slate article by discussing the differences between the filibusters. And how are they different according to David Weigel? Let us count the ways:
Wendy Davis was an unknown while Ted Cruz was a “known:” First off, obviously a United States Senator from the second most populous state is going to start with an advantage in name recognition among national news agencies over any state level legislator like Wendy Davis. As proof of Cruz’ name recognition, he trots out the fact that the New York Times covered Ted Cruz in 2011. Well stop the presses!! Because the New York Times– hardly an unbiased newspaper- covered Ted Cruz, he must be known. Memo to David Weigel: given the declining readership and subscriptions to the New York Times, they are hardly a guarantor of name recognition on the national scene. As a perfect example, unless you are from New Jersey, it is doubtful that too many people know who Barbara Buono is. As a parenthetical aside, not too many New Jerseyans know who she is, but that is besides the fact. Regardless, a state level politician- except perhaps the Governor- will always be “lesser” known than a statewide elected official, especially a US Senator. So, because the liberal press covered Wendy Davis and turned her into an icon makes her no better than Ted Cruz.
The filibuster standards were different: While this may be true in certain respects, what this has to do with anything is besides the point. The goal of a filibuster is to bring attention to something of vital concern to the person doing the talking. It is not necessarily an endurance contest based on sports rules where the further the fences are moved out, the more impressive the performance. The rules of the Senate do not allow Cruz to talk on incessantly until he falls asleep at the podium or soils himself. He knows full well that it comes to an end at a certain point in time. By asserting that the rules are different between Washington, DC and Austin, Texas in no way elevates the Davis filibuster above the Cruz filibuster.
The Davis filibuster was against a new abortion law: This is the real gist of the disagreement and perceived differences by those on the Left. Because Wendy Davis’ filibuster was about abortion and not about Obamacare, therefore the filibuster has to be more important in the Davis case. Of course, Weigel is ignorant of the fact that Obamacare touches more American lives than does the abortion issue, unless you happen to be defenseless fetus/baby. As I have written about previously, those opposing the Texas abortion law probably never read that law (sort of like the supporters of Obamacare). Think about it: 20 weeks is 5 months, more than half way through the gestational period and a period where even under Roe v. Wade the state’s interests have to be weighed with greater concern than if they conflicted with personal privacy concerns that take precedence in the first trimester (Roe’s views, not mine). Regardless, the Davis filibuster served the same purpose as the Cruz filibuster- to draw a spotlight on an issue of concern to the speaker, no matter how misguided those concerns in the case of Davis.
Unlike Cruz, at least Davis temporarily won: Really? As proof, Weigel offers the fact that Davis ran out the legislative session. However, it was a well-known fact that Rick Perry was going to call the legislature back into session over the abortion bill well before Davis took the floor of the Senate in Austin. As for Cruz, there, in a practical sense, is little difference. By eating up 21 hours of valuable Senate time, he effectively shortened the “legislative session-” a self-imposed one regarding a government shutdown. The similarity is that in both cases it is highly likely that Obamacare will not be “defunded” just as everyone in Texas knew the abortion bill would pass. And this could be the genius of the Cruz filibuster. He shortened the time to get anything done that would be perceived as a total Democratic victory in this fight and he tightened the screws. October 1st is looming larger now and the pressure is on to get a continuing resolution passed. Already, the GOP in the House is preparing a bill that would (1) force Congress into Obamacare and (2) delay the individual mandate until 2015, just as the employer mandate was delayed. Both of these proposals have wide popular support among Americans. In fact, some 90% of Americans polled by Pew think that what is good for the “rest of us” is good for Congress. And that support cuts across party and ideological lines. There is probably more support for this provision than there was opposition to Syrian intervention. By forcing this issue as part of the continuing resolution, it would be the Democrats who would be playing with electoral fire by voting against it. With respect to the individual mandate, the GOP can easily show that Democratic opposition to this provision illustrates that it is the Democrats who are beholden to special interests and businesses while damning the individual to Obamacare’s mandates. Hence, from a political standpoint, Cruz’ “stunt” which Harry Reid described as a “waste of time” actually may, in the end, accomplish more practical effect than Wendy Davis. We will soon find out what the CR will look like; we know the Texas abortion bill passed.
In real time, Ted Cruz got more air time: Of course he did because he is a US Senator whereas Davis is a state senator. Wendy Davis had no C-Span covering her filibuster in real time thus the statistics would obviously favor Cruz over Davis. But, he does not stop there and asserts that the Davis filibuster is more impressive since it rose to national attention through social media. Regardless of how it rises to national attention, it makes little difference. Both filibusters rallied the prospective bases and brought attention to something they felt deeply about. Ted Cruz controlled the news cycle on all three major networks, Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. That is just as impressive as anything Wendy Davis failed to practically accomplish in Texas, social media or not. The only thing that differed was their analysis of Ted Cruz. Thus, the quality of that reporting- not the quantity- is what is at issue here. In the liberally dominated mainstream media, if a Republican filibusters, they must be crazy. If a liberal filibusters for a liberal cause, then it is quaint, if not heroic.
The quality of post-filibuster questions differed: By this, Weigel states that the media lobbed Davis softball questions while Cruz got tougher questions from the press which conservatives use as proof that the liberal media is tougher on Republicans than they are on Democrats/liberals. He counters these claims by using a single interview where Davis was allegedly asked tough questions. Personally, I do not think that speculation on how Cruz managed to control his bladder for 21 hours is particularly hard-hitting. Along the same lines, because a single interviewer asks Davis “tough” questions with “tough” being in the eye of the beholder, it does not an “inquisition” make. And besides, it is kind of hard to even consider this. It has been only a few days since Cruz ended his speech. However, if we look at the coverage of the proxies for these subjects, there is a difference. Those speaking about Davis in the mainstream media were generally pro-Davis claiming that she was highlighting “the Republican war on women.” Conversely, there was very little coverage of Cruz’ allies by the mainstream media. Instead, we got John McRINO of Arizona and analysis on how this filibuster was useless, used up valuable Senate time and accomplished nothing. If anything can be gleaned from this episode, it is that John McCain is becoming an excellent spokesman for the Democratic Party.
David Weigel is absurd to assert that there is no bias in the media against Ted Cruz and that somehow he is attacking windmills on his horse in a non-romantic way, while Wendy Davis fought the good fight against the powers that be and is some kind of abortion Joan of Arc figure. Wendy Davis actually had the temerity to state that politicians should not use the issue of abortion to advance their careers. So, who exactly was Wendy Davis before her actions in Austin and why is she now seriously considering a run for Governor in Texas? Certainly, she is seeking to advance her political career which is what Ted Cruz is being accused of with his filibuster. Call it what you may; I call it projecting aspirations onto Ted Cruz which Wendy Davis is actually doing.