The conventional wisdom that the battle to stop the health-care law cannot be won, to Cruz, was merely a “trick” perpetrated by the deceitful left. “Look, the Democrats are feeling the heat,” he said. Cruz has been huddling with the lower chamber’s most conservative members, urging them to pressure Speaker John Boehner, prompting some to declare him a sort of shadow speaker. “In my view, the House of Representatives needs to keep doing what it’s been doing, which is standing strong,” he said.
Cruz was interrupted no less than seven times by immigration protesters, each of whom was peacefully escorted out by security. “The nice thing is, the left will always, always, always tell you who they fear,” he mused. Cruz has become an object of fascination among liberals. His speech was carried live on MSNBC; Fox News ignored it.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who partnered with Cruz to push the demand to defund the health-care law that provoked the shutdown, decried the "president's conduct" during the shutdown. Conservatives allege that Obama has selectively applied the closure of the federal government to the functions that will hurt the most people. Lee acknowledged he and Cruz had been “roundly criticized,” but “we make no apologies,” he proclaimed.
Lee told a story about his teenage son listening to music with raunchy lyrics. “Dad, it’s not bad if you don’t think about it,” the boy said. The senator meant it as a parable about the president as compared to the GOP, which he framed as the party of facing hard truths. But not thinking about the current political situation seemed applicable to him and his fellow speakers. After his refusal to apologize, Lee spent the remainder of his allotted 20 minutes making a pitch for renewed emphasis on community in the GOP. Senator Rand Paul, for his part, didn’t even allude to the shutdown, with a speech about the international war on Christianity he said was being perpetrated by radical Muslims.
Senator Marco Rubio was once thought to be the most promising of this cohort, but his firebreathing colleagues have overshadowed him of late. At first, his speech about societal decay seemed painfully generic. But Rubio, whose powerful speeches often have an apocalyptic cast, eventually took a darker tack than the others.
Rubio spoke to “the growing sense, by so many people across this country, that we are losing control of it, that we are losing control of our nation.” Liberal researchers have concluded that the Tea Party right, distinct from their establishment Republican brethren, are fired by a reactionary impulse, a sense of cultural fear and loss. Rubio seemed to speak directly to this feeling.
“I know so many of you are discouraged,” Rubio said. “I know so many people around this country are discouraged by the direction our nation is headed .... And I know that many of you are increasingly scared that maybe we have lost or are losing our country. But you cannot give up on America.”