If it’s Friday on PBS, it’s time for “conservative” pundit David Brooks to bash the real conservatives. One of his favorite targets is Sen. Ted Cruz. On Valentine’s Day, PBS anchor Judy Woodruff announced “We watched this drama play out this week, David, in Congress, which ended up in the Senate with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas essentially hanging some of his fellow Republicans out to dry. What was he trying to accomplish, and did he -- did he do it?”
Brooks shot back: “Nothing says Valentine’s Day like Senator Ted Cruz, our national aphrodisiac.” Then he said the conservatives were allergic to strategy (video below):
BROOKS: What he was trying to do is -- it’s unclear. There are a couple -- the official explanation was that he wanted Republicans to fight. He thinks there`s a spending problem in the country, and Republicans should fight harder before raising the debt ceiling, and they should get some spending reforms. That`s the nominal explanation.
The effective explanation, he was going to force a lot of Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell, that are up, to force -- to make them cast an unpleasant vote, which is going to help make it harder for them in the primaries against a more rightward challenger. And so he put a lot of people in a tough bind.
And the basic problem have been here before. They’re not all insane. They saw how badly it went last time, and they made a completely rational strategic decision, let`s just let it go and let`s move on and talk about something else. And that`s called basic strategy, nursery school-style.
And yet, somehow, there are some in the party who think strategy is bad. They just want to run into the wall again and again and again. And I would put Ted Cruz in that category.
Then Woodruff asked for a GOP-in-decline statement:
JUDY WOODRUFF: So where does this leave the -- the Tea Party? I mean, and we should say, this comes on the heels of the House, where Speaker Boehner couldn`t, David, round up enough Republicans to get behind a plan that would counter the -- the Democrats wanted a clean extension of the debt limit with no strings attached. The Republicans were looking for something, couldn’t get enough votes, but it never -- it never came together. What does all this say about what is going on in that party?
BROOKS: Yes. I think the Tea Party is going to be a permanent feature of the party. Those people were always here before we called them the Tea Party. And there`s two features. One, they`re -- like a lot of Republicans, they think that we're spending too much money. Two -- and this is more a matter of strategy -- they just don't believe in it. They don`t believe in strategy.
They think simplicity, just whatever Washington is doing, just mess it up, and so a direct, full-bore, frontal assault approach again and again and again, whereas somebody like John Boehner says, well, you know, you pick your fights. I think -- and so -- but they`re against that sort of game playing, what I would call just intelligent strategy.
Maybe there's a case to avoid the media's incessant bias in favor of massive spending. But this is what public broadcasting does with our tax dollars. Pay a "conservative" who says the best strategy is to make the liberals happy. Brooks made the same statement on his regular Friday night NPR gig:
BROOKS: John Boehner is guilty of practicing strategy. Some Tea Party people seem to want to put pedal to the medal on every single issue, run into brick walls until their head caves in, but John Boehner is not an idiot and there was no way they were going to get a majority on this.
His problem is that he has a Republican caucus where probably a quarter of its members, about 60 plus, really would prefer to blow up governing than governing at least as long as Barack Obama is president.