Perhaps a bizarre Twitter account doesn’t rise to the level of high art, but there is something of the Ziegfeld Follies in the kind of political posturing that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, rolled out this week on the Senate floor.
For twenty-one hours and change, the senator “delayed” a Senate procedural vote to move forward on a funding measure. He delayed nothing by waxing on and on and on about wide-ranging topics, from health care to Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Awards speech. Cruz even told his daughters a bedtime story by reading Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham via the magical C-SPAN cameras, while never having to leave the floor of the US Senate. What Cruz did was the modern political equivalent of a vaudeville show, but with less feathers.
In “The Lying Game,” from Baffler no. 21, Jim Newell peels back the curtain on this kind of political snakeoil show, the same sort that has been hitting our news waves every few months. Newell reveals the spectacle for what it is: a fundraising campaign.
Newell suggests that, following each hijacked news cycle, a certain kind of conservative ideologue–of which our man Cruz is a group leader–passes around the proverbial hat with a special Internet assist. Suddenly, a horrifying spectacle becomes political fundraising gold. From Rep. Joe Wilson’s, R-South Carolina, “You Lie!” comment to Cruz’s pseudo-buster, pols are quick to put on a sideshow-cum-infomercial, and they make like the boardwalk pitchman, freshly updated for the twenty-first century via viral marketing campaigns. In no time at all, both sides of the political spectrum begin reaping in cash.
Read Newell’s piece here, and check out Cruz’s growing coffers in the near future.