So, the Tea Party-inspired crisis de jur is over, for now. And it's generalisimo. Sen. Ted Cruz, from the nation-state, Texas, is unbowed even in abject defeat.
Cruz is an interesting kind of demagogue, but not unique in history. He is smart, very smart. A product of a Yale education, he's no slouch when it comes to smarts.
So, how do you explain his actions? Does he really believe the crap that rolls off his lips so effortlessly? Like that "millions of Americans are suffering under Obamacare?"
Really? Even the Affordable Care Act has not gone into effect yet? Who's suffering Ted? Maybe some will suffer, who knows. We'll find out after it goes into effect next year. But right now I don't know anyone who's "suffering." Worried, confused, frustrated by a stupid website, sure.. but suffering? Hardly.
Nevertheless on Cruz and a couple of dozen House members in his modern-day Children's Crusade
, continue on with such utter nonsense.
So, I ask again; how do we explain these rhetorical bomb throwers from the far right?
The answer is in a book, Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut. In this tale the protagonist befriends folks who, on the surface, appear entirely normal, well-functioning, citizens. Only later does he learn, much to his horror, that they are also members of a radical -- and even weirder than normal wing of the American Nazi Party. And he then asks, then answers, the same question; how can they be normal on most occasions, and so "out there" on others?
The answer he comes up with is about as good as we're likely to get when it comes to explaining Ted Cruz and his kind. Short excerpt follows:
"I have never seen a more sublime demonstration of the totalitarian mind, a mind which might be linked unto a system of gears where teeth have been filed off at random. Such snaggle-toothed thought machine, driven by a standard or even by a substandard libido, whirls with the jerky, noisy, gaudy pointlessness of a cuckoo clock in Hell.
Jones wasn't completely crazy. The dismaying thing about classic totalitarian mind is that any given gear, thought mutilated, will have at its circumference unbroken sequences of teeth that are immaculately maintained, that are exquisitely machined.
Hence the cuckoo clock in Hell - keeping perfect time for eight minutes and twenty-three seconds, jumping ahead fourteen minutes, keeping perfect time for six seconds, jumping ahead two seconds, keeping perfect time for two hours and one second, then jumping ahead a year.
The missing teeth, of course, are simple, obvious truths, truths available and comprehensible even to ten-year-olds, in most cases.
The willful filling off a gear teeth, the willful doing without certain obvious pieces of information - That was how a household as contradictory as one composed of Jones, Father Keeley, Vice-Bundesfuehrer Krapptauer, and the Black Fuehrer could exist in relative harmony.
That was how my father-in-law could contain in one mind an indifference toward slave women and love fora a blue vase.
That was how Rudolf Hess, Commandant of Auschwitz, could alternate over the loudspeakers of Auschwitz great music and calls for corpse-carriers.
That was how Nazi Germany sense no important difference between civilization and hydrophobia.
That is the closest I can come to explaining the legions, the nations of lunatics I've seen in my time."
Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.