Given his Cuban-American background, I was surprised that Sen. Ted Cruz pushed fellow Republicans into a futile showdown and shutdown over President Barack Obama’s health care law. Cruz should know a Bay of Pigs-style fiasco when he sees one coming.
Cruz was schooled from an early age in the horrors of the Havana regime, according to his own accounts and those of his father, Rafael Cruz, who fled Cuba at age 18 in 1957. Yet the freshman Texas senator’s reckless march of his fellow tea party conservatives into the government shutdown and brush with debt default shared much in common with the 1961 CIA-backed invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs by anti-Castro exiles.
Both efforts turned out to be doomed from the start by faulty intelligence, information silos and a delusional strategy based on magical thinking.
In Cuba, the CIA convinced itself and the White House that the invasion would magically create “an organized resistance that did not exist,” as The New York Times quoted the CIA’s declassified inquest in 1998.
In similar fashion, Cruz and his fellow tea party Republicans in Congress expressed hope that their shutdown strategy would spur a mass uprising and force the political establishment to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, popularly called Obamacare.
Sorry, folks. Quite the opposite has happened. The 2013 shutdown and flirtation with default have backfired against its instigators, much like the mid-1990s shutdown led by Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “revolutionaries.”
Outside of their self-congratulatory bubble, tea party Republicans won none of the big prizes they sought. If anything, they lost ground. They not only failed to damage Obamacare, but actually may have helped it.
By standing firm, President Obama and the Democrats came out strengthened. Obama’s supporters, who had grumbled about his giving up too much in earlier budget negotiations, were relieved to see the second-term Obama give up no major concessions to what he called the GOP’s “ransom” demands.