WASHINGTON -- Speaking for more than 18 hours, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was bound to hit upon some familiar points and retread old arguments in his fight to stop spending on the Affordable Care Act. But the sprawling nature of his speech, intermittently interrupted by questions from colleagues, opened the door for some interesting references and, at times, strange rhetorical tactics.
But few could expect that when Cruz took to the Senate floor at 2:41 p.m. Eastern time, he would go from drawing comparisons between the fight over the healthcare law and World War II, reading tweets using the #MakeDCListen hashtag, comparing Congress to World Wrestling Entertainment and reading “Green Eggs and Ham” to his daughters.
Early on, Cruz compared Republicans who are not enthused about his efforts to defund the healthcare law to those who appeased Germany before the Second World War.
“Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, ‘Accept the Nazis. Yes, they’ll dominate the continent of Europe, but that’s not our problem. Let’s appease them. Why? Because it can’t be done. We can’t possible stand against them,’” Cruz said.
Cruz also drew a parallel between the healthcare law and an evil, albeit fictional, regime. Prompted by a comment by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) about the nature of rebellion vs. oppression, Cruz said that the “Star Wars” film series “captures a lot of what’s going on here.”
“Just like in the ‘Star Wars’ movies, the empire will strike back,” Cruz warned, “But at the end of the day, I think the rebel alliance, I think the people will prevail.”
He also joked that he expected a Darth Vader-like figure to stride into the Senate and, in his best Vader voice, rasped, “Mike Lee, I am your father,” in reference to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Two of the most-cited figures in Cruz’s pseudo-filibuster were Ayn Rand, the libertarian figurehead, and Ashton Kutcher, the “Two and a Half Men” star. Quoting both throughout his overnight address, Cruz presented their words as inspiration to members of Congress and constituents alike.
“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart, and being thoughtful and being generous,” Cruz quoted from Kutcher’s Teen Choice Awards acceptance speech, presenting it as a model for younger Americans.
And for those who doubt the efficacy of his speech, which is unlikely to shift the state of legislation in the Senate, Cruz quoted from Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead.”
“No speech is ever considered, but only the speaker. It’s so much easier to pass judgment on a man than an idea,” Cruz said.