Ted Cruz embraces 'wacko bird' label

Senator Ted Cruz is seen on a television screen in the Senate Press Gallery during the tenth hour of his speech on the Senate floor 25 September 2013 Image copyright AP
Image caption Ted Cruz is short of allies in Congress

Senator Ted Cruz is deliberately casting himself as a conservative firebrand, a Texan Tea Party purist to whom "compromise" is a dirty word.

Some Republicans despair of both his tactics and his ego.

But he won't care - he has embraced John McCain's description of him as a "wacko bird". Reading Dr Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham from the floor of the Senate can only elevate him from Daffy Duck to Roadrunner in the esteem of his public admirers.

Many Americans think their politicians spout childish nonsense, but rarely have they actually revelled in doing so.

Just about all Republicans loathe President Obama's healthcare reform law and for some of them any attempt to destroy it is to be applauded.

Ted Cruz has earned himself a lot of team points from the Tea Party, but fewer from his peers in Congress.

Some Republicans think what he is doing is either pointless or dangerous. Pointless because this is not a classic filibuster - it stands no chance of actually killing the bill.

Beyond that, it is odd, because the bill he is delaying couples paying the government's bills to defunding Obamacare. That linkage is a core conservative tactic, which Mr Cruz himself agrees with.

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to take out the latter when it goes to a final vote, it was the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that put it there in the first place.

But some Republicans worry that approach itself is wrong - if the government did come grinding to a halt they might get the blame for real economic harm and a blow to America's image abroad.

It raises questions not just about individuals and parties but the fitness of the whole system. It is perhaps little wonder that in one recent survey just 7% of Americans thought Congress was doing a good job.

As Dr Seuss once wrote: "From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!"

More on this story