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October 23, 2013

PARKER: Silencing Ted Cruz necessary

Two things are often said in this town: “A day is a year in politics.” And, “It’s all about 2014.”

Combined, the two statements mean that much can happen between now and the midterm elections next year when Republicans hope to hold the House and gain the Senate — and Democrats intend to hold the Senate and recover the House.

Each respective goal is equally possible depending on the same single significant determinant: Whether Ted Cruz stops talking.

While that thought settles in, we pause to note that right now, the idea that Republicans could convince anyone that they should be allowed to deliver milk, much less hold the nation’s purse strings, seems remote. But things do change quickly around here. With the debt crisis postponed and the government up and running again, most Americans will settle into the season’s serial holiday distractions and move right along.

Nothing to see here. Even the barricades are gone.

As all know, the fixes recently applied are temporary and the new year brings fresh problems — implementation of Obamacare and our gluttonous debt, just to name a couple.

Tax and entitlement reform were the real targets for House Speaker John Boehner, who tried in vain to convince his colleagues that they’d have greater leverage during debt-ceiling negotiations. Instead, the tea-party insurrectionists in the House, incited by Cruz, opted to defund Obamacare, a doomed effort from the start. Farewell leverage.

This is history now. What lies ahead is the GOP’s internal struggle to determine which wing of the party prevails. And which wing prevails likely will determine the balance of power come 2014. Suffice to say, if Cruz’s voice drowns out the so-called establishment voices, Republicans may as well start investing in camels. The desert awaits.

The House may be less problematic because many Republicans, thanks to gerrymandering, are secure in their conservative districts. The Senate poses greater challenges, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee has been busy recruiting and training candidates who can bridge the gap and win both primaries and general elections, especially focusing on states where Democrats either are vulnerable (Arkansas) or are retiring (South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia).

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