The post-mortem’s are rolling in from the wise heads in Washington over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling votes and their verdict is unanimous: Ted Cruz was crushed. The Tea Party was annihilated.
But all these Washington pundits may be sailing right past one subtle fact.
Heritage Action and Club for Growth and the Tea Party weren’t just battling Obama and they weren’t just battling for spending cuts – they were battling the Supreme Leaders of the Washington Republican Party and their goal wasn’t just to win two votes in the House Republican Caucus – it was to win Republican primaries.
It’s no secret the Tea Partiers have their hearts set on cutting government. And cutting spending. And cutting debt. But they can’t accomplish those goals as long as the Washington Republican Establishment is standing in their way.
Instead history will repeat itself and what happened on the Continuing Resolution and Debt Ceiling votes will happen again and again – in the end the Republican Establishment will vote with Democrats to raise the Debt Ceiling without spending cuts.
So the Conservatives have to get the Republican Establishment out of the way. Which means one simple fact: They have to win primaries. Which is why they chose to make the Continuing Resolution a fight about Obamacare.
After all, drawing a line in the sand on the debt and saying to Obama, We won’t take more of the same-old same-old – if you want to borrow more, you’re going to have to agree to cut spending first – would have been a fine battle to fight with Obama. It would have appealed to Independents.
But about the worst thing you can tell a Republican primary voter about a Republican Congressman is that he supported Obamacare. And now Mitch McConnell and a whole troop of Republican Congressmen have done just that. And that’s going to be a pretty hard vote to defend in a Republican primary.
To the wise heads in Washington President Obama came out of the Debt Ceiling fight as the winner – but, when it comes to winning Republican primaries, Conservatives were big winners too.