All Of A Sudden, The Establishment Experts Don’t Know What A Poison Pill Amendment Is

In the aftermath of a bruising exchange on immigration in last night’s presidential debate, Marco Rubio’s supporters and lots of others in the GOP establishment anxious to discredit Ted Cruz are now howling about Cruz having said he’s never been for legalization of illegal immigrants and has no intention of supporting same in the future.

This is a lie, say Cruz’ detractors.

And today, the controversy found its flower when Fox News’ Bret Baier grilled Cruz on the subject. Cruz struggled a bit in trying to keep the discussion out of the legislative weeds, and it came off like he was trying to squirrel his way out of the issue.

When, at about the 2:40 mark, Cruz tried to explain the amendment as a poison pill in not so many words Baier hit him on his response to Byron York of the Washington Examiner that it wasn’t one. The clip comes off somewhat badly, and by the time Bill O’Reilly had Karl Rove on to discuss it Rove actually made the statement that Cruz can no longer hit Rubio on amnesty because Cruz is for legalization.

Which is rubbish.

Amanda Carpenter was working for Cruz at the time. Here was her take on the fracas…

And here’s a video of Cruz back in 2013 telling the Texas Tribune about his amendments to the bill…

It comes down to what Carpenter, who was Cruz’ communications director at the time, says. Cruz offered amendments to expose the fact that the Gang Of 8 bill, which Rubio was one of the chief backers of before he recognized the political suicide it contained, was all about making citizens (and Democrat voters) out of the 11 million or so illegals in the country.

Cruz’ amendments were without question a poison pill designed to expose the agenda behind the Gang Of 8 bill. And as Carpenter said, he was successful in killing that bill with those amendments.

The Establishment’s narrative that Cruz is without legislative achievement is a lie. This is proof that it’s a lie.

But where Cruz is going to run into some trouble is that the public doesn’t understand a lot about the legislative process, much less anything about legislative strategy.

You would think the media, and particularly a relatively smart media outfit like Fox News and Bret Baier and Brit Hume in particular (Hume has gone after Cruz hammer and tong on this, to such an extent that last night he said Cruz needs to “shake hands with the truth”), would take the opportunity to use this issue as a tool to flesh out how Congressional strategy and maneuvering works. Instead, they’re playing dumb.

Here’s the thing. You do not admit that your poison pill amendment is a poison pill. You sell your poison pill amendment with all the same vigor you would sell something you earnestly desire to see pass. It’s a bluff. If it’s done badly, it gets called and it’s not effective.

If Cruz hadn’t done the sales job he did he wouldn’t have gotten votes on his amendments at all.

And you can’t do that sales job if you admit to Byron York that yes, these are poison pills.

By presenting a poison pill amendment that forces these people to admit they want full-on amnesty that includes a path to citizenship, Cruz creates an environment that forces his Republican colleagues to stiffen their spines and kill the bill. They can’t vote for it as a decent compromise, because now to vote for it is to vote for citizenship.

Cruz did what he did to kill bad legislation. He didn’t do it to burnish his resume for a presidential run. That’s integrity, and it’s skill. That the Establishment is trying to miscast it in order to discredit him is a reflection on them, not him.

Cruz is correct that he is a far bigger immigration hawk than Rubio is. That’s not to say Cruz is the greatest of immigration hawks; he clearly has an inclination to compromise on the issue after his major priorities are met.

But Rubio is attempting to muddy the waters between himself and Cruz on immigration, and the Beltway crowd is certainly playing along. The idea they all of a sudden don’t recognize a poison pill amendment with clear evidence there was one two years ago is hard to believe, but there you have it.



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