It's not just the American public that blames Republicans for causing the shutdown, as polls have shown. Fellow Republicans, too, have turned on their own party, and they are doing so with some brutal takedowns usually reserved for Democrats.
As the government shutdown goes into its fourth day and threatens to bleed into a debt ceiling crisis, National Journal reported on Thursday that the Republican Party is more united than ever in its trust of Speaker John Boehner. And yet many members of Congress had felt free to express disunity — many times on the record, and even on camera. These callouts can be broken up into three key groups: conservatives angry at congressional Republicans, those angry at the hardline anti-Obamacare caucus, and those just mad at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Anger target: All Washington Republicans
- Sen. John McCain has been his typical maverick self and criticized the Republican shutdown plan as "not rational" and "unnecessary."
- Rep. Jason Chaffetz fired back at those seemingly mild criticisms with a straight ad hominem attack. “I don’t care what John McCain thinks!” Chaffetz said to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “Andrea, I don’t care what John McCain thinks!” The 2008 election was a long time ago, it seems.
- Gov. Chris Christie took aim at the whole legislative branch, which he said is not "built to lead and take risks. What they’re built to do is say 'How many votes do we have?' and 'How many do we need?' and 'Do I have to give my vote now or can I hold back a little bit and wait to see which way the wind is blowing?'" Christie also added an implicit criticism in a political advertisement: "Compromise is not a dirty word."
- Gov. Bobby Jindal is tired of congressional Republicans soiling the party's name. "As governors, we have outsourced the Republican brand to D.C., and it’s time to stop that," he said.
- Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said that the effort to connect Obamacare to funding the government takes away from attempts to revise the law. “This is a huge distraction,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “Instead of that being the conversation, we’re talking about the government shutdown, and the average citizen can’t help but say the Republican Congress isn’t helping.”
- North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr said of shutting down the government over Obamacare, "I think it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard."
- Arizona Gov. Janet Brewer criticized both Republicans and Democrats for the shutdown: "I think it’s all of their faults. They’re all responsible."
- Sen. Richard Shelby called the plan "foolish."
- Conservative pundit David Frum gave one of the more scathing criticisms of the party as a whole at The Daily Beast: "It stumbles into fights it cannot win, gets mad, and then in its anger lurches into yet another fight that ends in yet another loss," he wrote.
Anger target: The defund-Obamacare caucus
- California Rep. Devin Nunes termed the deal-averse section of the party "lemmings with suicide vests" earlier this week. "It’s kind of an insult to lemmings to call them lemmings, so they’d have to be more than just a lemming, because jumping to your death is not enough," he said. Nunes repeated his assertion that this "lemming caucus" was to blame on CNN on Thursday. "It's guys who meet privately. They're always conspiring. It's mostly just about power. And it's just gotten us nowhere," Nunes said.
- An anonymous House Republican thinks Boehner is being held at the whims of this small group. "I've been trying to figure this out," the congressperson said to the Washington Examiner. "It seems to me that Boehner could do whatever he wants with Democrats on the floor and still get about 180 or 190 of us. So why doesn't he do that?"
- Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer of The Washington Post also called the hardline group a "suicide caucus."
- Former Bush spokesperson Nicolle Wallace compared this caucus to a two-year old child attempting to cross the street, in need of a parent to guide them. "When Republicans run into the street despite the fact there’s a flashing red light, they’re gonna get hit by the cars and killed."
Anger target: Ted Cruz
For the past few weeks, much criticism has been lobbied at Sen. Ted Cruz, who has taken the reins of the defund-Obamacare-or-face-shutdown caucus, particularly after his 21-hour faux-buster last week.
- New York Rep. Peter King called Cruz a "fraud" and said he is utilizing a "form of governmental terrorism," to The New York Times. And in case you didn't get the hint, King said what he really thought to Yahoo News's Chris Moody:
NY GOP Rep. Peter King on who would be at fault for shutdown: "Ted Cruz should be blamed and any anybody that follows him."— Chris Moody (@Chris_Moody) September 30, 2013
- Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker took a shot at Cruz's education at Princeton and Harvard Law School for waging a plan without any chance of success.
I didn’t go to Harvard or Princeton, but I can count -- the defunding box canyon is a tactic that will fail and weaken our position. –BC— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) September 19, 2013
- Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist added Cruz into the toddler-in-traffic analogy. "Cruz said he would deliver the votes and he didn’t deliver any Democratic votes. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away," Norquist told The Washington Post.
- Anonymous Republican senators took shots at Cruz after a bumbling meeting in which he couldn't lay out a plan to success for the shutdown move. As one senator told Politico:
“It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have a strategy – he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was,” said one senator who attended the meeting. “I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch.”
- New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte "was especially furious" at Cruz in a private meeting for attacks from a Cruz-supporting group targeting fellow Republicans. Cruz refused to rebuke the group, which started a chain reaction of criticisms from Senate Republicans Ron Johnson, Dan Coats and minority leader Mitch McConnell. “It just started a lynch mob,” a senator present told The New York Times.
So there you have it, Ted Cruz is a fraudulent snake oil salesman who pushes toddlers into traffic, the leader of a suicidal pack of lemmings, part of a foolish House Republican plan lurching from crisis to crisis. That is, if you take Republicans at their word.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.