Ted Cruz strides into a discreet conference room of a small Washington, D.C., hotel, turns to a fellow senator and says, “Wait a minute. This isn’t a campaign fundraiser.”
At that moment the door shuts behind him. The clicking of the deadbolt lock breaks the uncomfortable silence.
From the shadows, Sen. John McCain emerges. He puts his hand on Cruz’s shoulder and says, “Ted, have a seat. We need to talk.”
Suddenly, the junior senator from Texas finds himself seated at the head of a long table. Joining him are many of his Republican colleagues in the Senate. None of them look happy to be there.
“Look, senator, we all have better things to do, so let’s cut to the chase,” says one.
“At one time, most of us were in your shoes,” says another. “We came into the Senate with something like youthful vigor, anxious to shake things up.”
“Yet, before we went too far down that road, one of the Senate’s wise men put a hand on our shoulder and a bit of good advice in our ear, ‘Respect the traditions. Respect your colleagues. Fight for your ideals, but don’t make the fight personal.’”
“Most importantly, they warned us to not outkick our coverage. ‘Don’t sink the ship for a lost cause. Stay afloat to fight another day.’”
Cruz turns to his colleagues and sneers, “What is this, some sort of intervention? I could have guessed you guys didn’t have the guts to take on Obamacare, to tell the world, ‘Either it goes or we shut down the government.’”
“This isn’t about guts,” sighed another senator. “I lived through the ’95 government shutdown. We Republicans took the blame with most of the public, and it cost us at the polls. Look, none of us voted for Obamacare. All of us publicly oppose it, but that’s not the point. We’ve got to face reality — we are on the losing side on this one.”
From the other side of the table, another senator spoke up. “Ted, like you, many of us have successfully ridden a wave of grassroots Obamacare hatred. Yet, election-wise, we’ve taken it about as far as we can. Are some in the Tea Party going to be disappointed after we built up their hopes that this thing could somehow be stopped? Of course, but that fantasy was going to come crashing to earth sometime anyway.”
“But, but,” Cruz sputtered. “This is about freedom.”
A senator in the back of the room slowly rose and glared at Cruz. “There’s one among us who spent six years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. I’ll take his definition of ‘freedom’ over yours any day.”