Sen. Ted Cruz: 'Count Me as a Proud Wacko Bird'
Photo Credit: © Jenny Warburg
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For attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, represents everything they love. Tea Party insurgent? Check. Tenth amendment fanatic? Check. Anti-choice? Check. Anti-education? Check. Sarah Palin endorsement? Check. Wacko bird? Check.
Indeed, Cruz wore that last appelation, bestowed on him by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the former Republican presidential candidate, as a badge of honor. It was McCain's description of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and those who, like Cruz, joined Paul on the Senate floor earlier this month, for a filibuster of President Barack Obama's nomination of John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. In that filibuster, the subject of the Brennan nomination was overshadowed by Paul's attack on the Obama administration for its policy on drones, the unmanned airborne vehicles used by the administration for targeted assassinations of al Qaeda leaders and for warfare against Taliban leaders in Pakistan (attacks that often kill civilians).
Seeking to Share Rand Paul's Spotlight
The enduring popularity of the Paul family at CPAC was confirmed just before Cruz's big closing speech at the right-wing confab, when it was revealed that Rand Paul, like his father before him, won the CPAC presidential straw poll. Cruz was clearly angling for some reflected glow from the Paul spotlight, spending a good chunk of his opening to aggrandizing his own role in Paul's filibuster.
"To my grave, I will owe Rand Paul a debt of gratitude...," Cruz said, noting that his involvement in the filibuster marked his first speech on the Senate floor after being sworn in just 10 weeks ago. He ran as a Tea Party challenger to the candidate anointed by the Texas Republican Party, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and was helped in that effort by Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate (selected by none other than McCain himself).
"We did have a certain eminence grise of the Republican Party describe Rand Paul and me as ‘wacko birds,’" Cruz told the CPAC crowd. "I have to admit, when Rand and I first heard that, we thought that maybe it was a new kind of drone. But if standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then count me a proud wacko bird."
Cruz went on at some length about the filibuster, excitedly telling the audience of his selected readings for his star turn in Paul's big show.
Noting that the filibuster took place on the 177th anniverary of the fall of the Alamo, Cruz read the famous "no surrender" letter penned by William Barret Travis during the battle.
"I observed to Rand...that if the heros of the Alamo -- William Barret Travis and Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie -- were alive today, they would have been standing shoulder to shoulder with him on the floor of the Senate," Cruz said.
Cruz, who never served in the military, seemed keen to glorify himself by equating Rand Paul and himself with warriors with his reading selections for the filibuster, which included a famous passage from William Shakespeare's play, Henry V.
"I got to read from Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day speech," Cruz said, "and there were more than a few senators that were not there with us that night who have held their manhoods acheapened as a result." Yes, he said "acheapened" in an apparent reference to this sentence from the passage, which is full of the language of bloody sacrifices those who fight will suffer:
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.