If anything, the crisis actually did Team Obama a favor. They should thank congressional Republicans for distracting attention from a huge page-one embarrassment: the fumbled rollout of the administration’s HealthCare.gov online insurance mall.
Amid a multitude of computer glitches, Obamacare actually became slightly more popular — or at least less unpopular. A mid-October Gallup poll found those who wanted the Affordable Care Act repealed or scaled back declined from 57 percent in early 2011 to only 50 percent. Perhaps there is yet hope for Obamacare after all.
There were “no winners,” said President Obama afterwards, which only seemed to confirm that he had won. Real winners don’t have to announce their victories. They can let others do that for them.
Cruz, by contrast, continued his earlier bellicose stance, declaring a victory of his own, not only against Democrats but also against his fellow Republicans who lacked his fearless, if reckless resolve in fighting Obamacare.
“Unfortunately, once again it appears the Washington establishment is refusing to listen to the American people,” Cruz said, echoing a charge tea partiers have been making against both parties. It was “a remarkable victory,” he said, “to see the House engage in a profile of courage.”
Considering how exhausted and humiliated Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) looked after failing to unite his GOP majority behind the final compromise, Cruz’s sentiments sound like a man cheering Don Quixote’s tilting at windmills.
But it is important to remember that Cruz’s favorability ratings have shot up among tea party supporters because he speaks for a cause that is larger than the boring if necessary concerns of actually governing or even his loyalty to GOP leaders in what he calls “the Washington establishment.”
The shame of the showdown was how unnecessary it was. Outside of Obamacare, the tea party movement’s stated goals already are being achieved.