Ted Cruz would appreciate it very much if you would kindly stop discussing his role in the government shutdown.
The Texas senator who burst onto the public scene when he convinced congressional Republicans to adopt a scheme to withhold federal funding unless President Obama’s health care law was repealed, defunded or delayed, said Tuesday that talk of the shutdown in 2014 amounts to nothing more than a distraction.
In October, the federal government closed for more than two weeks after Republicans in the House and Senate refused to vote for any plan to reopen the government that did not injure the health care law. The exercise resulted in a public relations nightmare for GOP lawmakers, who eventually relented under public pressure and reopened the government as part of a larger deal that also raised the debt ceiling. In the end, Republicans had nothing to show for their efforts.
Four months later, Cruz, arguably the mastermind behind the shutdown strategy, refuses to take responsibility for it. When asked about the shutdown Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Cruz insisted he wasn’t at fault.
“I didn't threaten to shut down the government the last time. I don't think we should ever shut down the government. I repeatedly voted to fund the federal government,” Cruz said. “It was Harry Reid and President Obama.”
Cruz argued that since Democrats knew the shutdown would be good for them politically — and it was, at least in the short term — that they were the ones who engineered it. Many in the media quickly called out Cruz’s spin as revisionist history. (Curiously, Cruz once argued that a shutdown would be positive for conservatives.)
On Tuesday, when a reporter asked him about the exchange, Cruz insisted that it was time to talk about something different and abruptly changed the subject.
“I understand that there are a lot of folks in the media that love to talk about the shutdown from four months ago. What we ought to be talking about is the fact that we have the lowest labor force participating in 30 years since 1978, that Obamacare has taken away more than 5 million people's health insurance plans, that people are hurting, that income inequality has increased under the Obama agenda and that there is an abuse of power and lawlessness,” Cruz said. “So that’s what we ought to be talking about. Efforts that distract from that conversation, I think, are deliberate efforts of smoke and mirrors distracting from the questions coming from the American people.”
Cruz is trying his best to move on. He clearly doesn’t want his legacy forever stuck to the shutdown. Whether he likes it or not, it may take some more time.