Many have said Senator Ted Cruz's pointless 21 hour pseudo filibuster about defunding Obamacare was grandstanding and its only purpose was to promote Cruz for a 2016 presidential bid. That all may be true but I believe fundamentally it was an attempt by him to get back in the good graces of his Tea Party base.
After all, only a few days prior he was being called a traitor by GOP House Representatives for merely suggesting the truth that the bill they just sent to the Senate defunding Obamacare would not pass the Senate.
How dare he imply the inevitable and not perpetuate the Tea Party myth that the House of Representatives can control Washington! The senator was feeling heat from all sides of the political spectrum for that blunder.
Senator Cruz's quick retreat and then epic showcase on the Senate floor reveals how the political world has changed in the last 20 years.
When Bill Clinton was campaigning for president in 1992, while speaking at a Jesse Jackson Rainbow Coalition event, he famously confronted an African American hip hop artist and political activist named Sister Souljah who also spoke at the conference and had earlier made controversial remarks in a Washington Post interview about the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, CA.
Souljah had commented: "If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?" Clinton admonished her saying: "If you took the words 'white' and 'black' and reversed them you might think David Duke was giving that speech."
This Clinton accusation was considered risky by some because it served to alienate many of his African American base. Indeed, Reverend Jesse Jackson harshly criticized Clinton's words saying Sister Souljah was misquoted and "she represents the feelings and hopes of a whole generation of people."
However, it also served to reassure the moderates in his party that he would stand up to extremism and reverse racism.
Henceforth the term "Sister Souljah moment" was born. It came to be defined as a public repudiation of an extremist person or group associated with a politician or a political party.
Senator Cruz lost out on his "Sister Souljah moment" this week. When he was being blasted by the Tea Party fringe House members for accidentally telling the truth he could have confronted them and maybe gained some respect from the moderates in his party.
He could have made himself seem rational and reasonable and aware of the political reality of the situation in DC today: that the Senate and the White House are dominated by the Democrats and that by repeatedly voting to repeal a bill (40? times) does not make it become law (or in this case not a law.) That the Senate has to pass it and then the president has to sign it and that is not going to happen with this Congress.
He could tell the GOP House that shutting down the government is not a good thing and that it will hurt the people and the economy. He could tell them he will not be bullied by them and that their narrow ideology is causing gridlock and chaos and not helping the nation heal from the Great Recession.
But no, instead Senator Ted Cruz caved in to the extreme fringe of his party. He backtracked on his truth telling and vowed to fight Obamacare until he could no longer stand. As Rachel Maddow pointed out on her show, he is not facing re-election until 2018. He has nothing to lose. In fact, he relishes having the moderate RINOs (Republican in name only) mad at him. It endears him even more to his Tea Party base.
So the world of politics has come full circle. The GOP is no longer trying to appease the moderates, but they have to cater to their lunatic fringe just to win primary elections. It is like a Frankenstein monster has been created that has no concept of compromise, reasonableness, or civility. And Ted Cruz is their new Messiah.
I just wonder what will happen when the next "Sister Souljah moment" comes up and the base that elected Senator Cruz turns on him again for speaking the truth. Will he have the political courage to stand up to them?
Better question yet: is there any leader in the Republican party that is brave enough to speak out against its lunatic fringe and their mouthpieces in right wing talk radio?
Sister Souljah moment, we hardly knew ye.