GOP United on Policy Goal, Divided on Strategy

National Review Online’s Robert Costa reports on the debate playing out among congressional Republicans: “Ted Cruz Punches Back: The senator defends his effort to defund Obamacare.”

The internecine tensions spilled over to the House on Wednesday, when a group of Republicans knocked Cruz on Twitter for appearing to back down from the defunding fight. Speaker John Boehner had just decided to bring a Cruz-inspired bill to the floor, and instead of rallying the Senate, Cruz issued a statement that left the burden of defunding Obamacare squarely on the lower chamber.

. . .

House insiders say a handful of House Republicans cursed Cruz in the cloakroom on Wednesday, and a leadership source says angry e-mails were exchanged among GOP staffers who consider Cruz to be a charlatan. “Cruz keeps raising conservatives’ hopes, and then, when we give him what he wants, he doesn’t have a plan to follow through,” an aide fumes. “He’s an amateur.” Another aide says, “Nancy Pelosi is more well-liked around here.”

Cruz, however, tells me House Republicans are wrong to be infuriated. In an interview, he says his goal was never to whip together votes in the Senate for a defunding bill; it was always to inspire a grassroots uprising that would rattle Congress and President Obama, and hopefully defund Obamacare.

Business Insider also discusses this ongoing debate, with quotes.

Also at NRO, Andrew McCarthy defends Cruz and criticizes the defund strategy’s critics.

This is the Washington political class in sharp relief. The Republican establishment resists President Obama and his agenda only when it knows that resistance is futile, token and sure to be inconsequential — when it’s good for a campaign commercial about how hard the GOP is working to undo Obamacare, not when it’s about actually working hard to undo Obamacare.

Ramesh Ponnuru responds.  Jonah Goldberg also offers some thoughts.

Picking your battles isn’t “surrender.” It’s wisdom. I want to get rid of ObamaCare as much as anyone. But I believe the only way to do that at this point is to win back the senate in 2014 and probably the White House in 2016. Even so, I would whole-heartedly support the Defund movement if I didn’t think a government shutdown would hurt those chances.

Now I know there are all sorts of elaborate and heartfelt theories about why such skepticism is wrong. Fine. But why such skepticism should elicit cries of cowardice, RINOism . . . and betrayal is beyond me. Disagreements over tactics shouldn’t amount to heresy.

For whatever it’s worth, even Rand Paul seems to disagree with those in the Tea Party movement who think Cruz’s plan will work.  Robert Costa again: “Paul: Obama Has the ‘Upper Hand’”

Senator Rand Paul has long supported the effort to defund Obamacare, but he has doubts about whether it can force President Obama to buckle.

“I don’t think the president will sign any legislation to defund Obamacare, and neither will the Senate pass any legislation to defund Obamacare,” Paul tells National Review, in an interview at his Capitol Hill office.

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