As Cruz has demonstrated troubles with prolixity -- and because these troubles make everyone's life a little harder -- I am going to boil his answers in a Sunday "Meet the Press" interview down into their simplest form so that for once, Ted Cruz doesn't have to be such a long-winded pain in the ass of John Boehner or anyone else.
ACTUAL GREGORY: You're the man in the middle of this whole fight. So here are the stakes: "De-fund or delay," say you and other Republicans. President says, "No way. This law is moving forward." Are you in control of what happens next?
SHORTER CRUZ: Don't know. Somebody else's problem
ACTUAL GREGORY: You keep saying that the Senate and the House should listen to the American people. I looked at polling this week that shows, in a lot of quarters, the bill is unpopular, the law is unpopular. 56% want to uphold this law. So when you say, "Listen to the American people," they're not necessarily with you.
SHORTER CRUZ: Trick poll. So what?
ACTUAL GREGORY: So it's just polling methodology?
SHORTER CRUZ: Dunno. Obamacare bad.
ACTUAL GREGORY: We'll get into some of the particulars of Obamacare, because obviously, there's more to that story that advocates would argue. But let's just stick with the here and now. So how does this end? Because, as I understand it, you would only support de-funding of Obamacare. A delay, for you, is not enough.
SHORTER CRUZ: Senate needs to do stuff.
ACTUAL GREGORY: You know, the Senate has acted, the Majority Leader will say, passed a bill to keep the government open, and now we've gone back to trying to delay or de-fund Obamacare. So the Senate is saying, "We're not going to take this up." Should they take up part of it? Should there be votes? Would you filibuster this bill?
SHORTER CRUZ: I am basically opposed to the Democrats in the Senate taking a position and voting according to that. Harry Reid bad.
ACTUAL GREGORY: But Senator, even Republicans that I've spoken to, your colleagues, say, "Senator Cruz can't blame Harry Reid for shutting down the government. Senator Reid acted. He passed a bill to keep the government open."
SHORTER CRUZ: No Harry Reid wants shutdown.
ACTUAL GREGORY: It's interesting. Democrats say, "You know, the problem with Senator Cruz's position is that it's a purist position." There are problems with Obamacare. The White House admits that. We talked about polling in some quarters indicating great dissatisfaction with the law, as you're talking about in Town Hall meetings. But you have to engaged in a debate about how they change the law. What you've gone out and said is, "Let's kill the law all together. Let's de-fund it."
SHORTER CRUZ: Your question is dumb. You are dumb. Our offer to destroy Obamacare is a "compromise."
ACTUAL GREGORY: So here's the thing, Senator.
SHORTER CRUZ: Waaah.
ACTUAL GREGORY: You make this argument as if there's no broader context here. Obamacare has been legislated. It has been adjudicated. And it has been tested to the political system. And so let's go through that. We had an election where I heard the standard bearer for the Republican Party, Mitt Romney, say Obamacare should be repealed.
All the Republicans already voted against this thing when it was ultimately passed. The Supreme Court upheld it. And then this summer, you and your colleagues said, "Look, let's have a strategy here of de-funding Obamacare," and you had people who signed a letter. And they said they joined you in that fight.
Well, here you are now, you don't even have the same number of folks who signed the letter who voted with you in this effort. There are not protests in the streets arguing to do away with this law in the way that you'd like. Again, 56%, in one poll of this week, New York Times/CBS said, "Let's uphold the law." So I'm focusing on results. Your goal and results. Where have you moved anything?
SHORTER CRUZ: [holds hands over ears] BLAH BLAH BLAH I DON'T HEAR THAT. Obamacare is bad.
ACTUAL GREGORY: You're a terrific lawyer. You're making an argument. I asked you a specific question based on the facts on the ground. You've made all these arguments. My goodness, you went and spoke for 21 hours to make these arguments. You haven't moved anyone.
SHORTER CRUZ: No one likes Obamacare, this is just facts. Harry Reid is bad. There is only one right answer.
ACTUAL GREGORY: You're an opponent of the law. There is, of course, another side to this story, right? Millions of Americans are getting access to health care that they couldn't otherwise afford. Folks who have children, they can now be on it up to 26. Republicans agree with things like not having pre-existing conditions, get in the way of getting insurance.
Utilization is down. I spoke to a hospital administrator in Illinois this week, quite skeptical of the law, who said, "Look, utilization is down. That could ultimately be helpful for health care costs." You can't know what the effect is five years on from this law. And nor can proponents of the law.
But here's one argument. You've made yours. And the president, when he spoke this week, he actually referred to your words, and I want to play a portion of this, suggesting that what you really don't want to happen is for the law to go forward because then people would really start liking it. This is what he said.
BARACK OBAMA: "It's going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare." (Laughter.) Right? So in other words, we've got to shut this thing down before people find out that they like it.
ACTUAL GREGORY: You don't think Americans will like it. You don't think that 25% of the state of Texas that's uninsured will actually like the expanded access to get health insurance?
SHORTER CRUZ: No, no it's not working and everyone already agrees that they will never like it, that's just proven science. Obamacare is wrecking everyone's life right now, these are just facts.
ACTUAL GREGORY: There are also benefit administrators, in my research, who indicate there-- that there is no real sign that employers would stop giving health insurance to their employees. It's a major recruitment tool for how to get employees. And aspects of the law have been delayed so that it can work better. And perhaps these problems that you're identifying could be rectified, short of complete de-funding.
I want to go back to where we started for a moment, just to get you clear on this point. A government shutdown under these circumstances, because this doesn't sound like it will be resolved, that's an acceptable outcome to you?
SHORTER CRUZ: Harry Reid bad he want big bad government shutdown why won't he take the awesome compromise? Why is President Obama and Harry Reid holding the military hostage?
ACTUAL GREGORY: But it is an acceptable outcome?
SHORTER CRUZ: No, because Harry Reid is being an absolutist.
Oh, wow, sorry everyone. When Ted Cruz called another person an "absolutist," about forty or fifty anvils fell right out of the sky, onto my head and I blacked out for a little bit. Where is the interview? Christ, it is STILL GOING ON.
ACTUAL GREGORY: You're talking a lot about Democrats. They're critical of you. But it's hard for them to get a word in edgewise, because it's members of your own party who are so critical of what you've done and how you've done it. You have colleagues who have accused you of putting on a show. That was Senator Corker. Congressman Peter King said you're a fraud, that you're lying to the base, over-promising something that's possible.
George Will, who's been a conservative columnist for The Washington Post and others, has been very supportive of you in the past. But he wrote this, this week. I want to have you respond to it. Because it seems to crystallize some of the opposition. "Those people who are best at deceiving others first deceive themselves," he wrote. "They often do so by allowing their wishes to be fathers of their thoughts, and begin by wishing that everything has changed.
"Republicans now making a moral melodrama over any vote that allows the ACA to be funded should remember Everett Dirksen of Illinois, the leader of Senate Republicans during passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He recalled '40 preachers caught me one afternoon there in that lobby. "I am not a moralist," I told them. "I'm a legislator." It is good to be both. It is sterile to be the former to the exclusion of the latter.'" Are you more moralist than legislator?
SHORTER CRUZ: I obviously don't read George Will columns. When I offer to destory Obamacare, I am actually making a very generous concession to Democrats. Harry Reid is an absolutist
OMG TED CRUZ YOU NEED TO STOP THAT.
ACTUAL GREGORY: Who's the legislator you most admire? Who's your big role model?
SHORTER CRUZ: Phil Gramm.
Okay I'm pretty sure the substantive part of the interview is over.
ACTUAL GREGORY: Do you regret comparing the future of Obamacare to the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany?
SHORTER CRUZ: I never did that.
ACTUAL GREGORY: Do you ride this to the presidential nomination?
SHORTER CRUZ: SIGH, "THIS TOWN," ETC. Harry Reid is bad.
Isn't Cruzmandias kind of okay in that sort of dosage?