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How Senator Ted Cruz Became President Obama’s Best Friend

Posted by Ryan Petersen on

Ryan Petersen

Ryan Petersen

Senator Ted Cruz may just be President Obama’s new best friend.  No, I don’t imagine that they’re getting drinks together after hours or playing pick-up games of one-on-one on the White House basketball court, but, in the past month, no one has helped the president more than the junior Republican senator from Texas. 

Before the government shutdown, before we flirted with hitting the debt ceiling and potentially triggering a global economic crisis, does anyone even remember what the lead story in the news was at that time? That’s right, Syria. What happened to Syria? 

The administration had simultaneously managed to bungle the crisis in Syria on both the domestic and foreign fronts. The president allowed himself to become mired in a war powers debate with Congress here at home (after his decision to intervene in response to confirmation of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons on its own people). At the same time, the U.S. was being outmaneuvered by the Russians abroad. 

Admittedly, the president was in a difficult position from the start. The prospect of U.S. military intervention anywhere, particularly in the Middle East (yet again), was proving to be extremely unpopular with the American people, making it unlikely that Congress would readily authorize the president to conduct even limited military strikes under the War Powers Resolution. 

Complicating matters was the fact the president was on record (as a senator and presidential candidate) arguing that "The president does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."  

Finally, a re-emergent Russia – long-time ally of Syria and supporter of the current regime – stood poised to reassert its role on the global stage and check American power in the region. Not surprisingly, Vladimir Putin seized this opportunity, effectively pulling the rug out from under the president when Russia stepped in and negotiated an agreement with the Syrians.

Facing what was almost certain to become the worst foreign policy blunder of his presidency, who came to Obama’s rescue? None other than Senator Ted Cruz and his allies in the Tea Party Caucus! 

The government shutdown and debt ceiling scare not only cost the country an estimated $24 billion and undermined legitimate opposition to the Affordable Care Act, it also pushed Syria out of the news and provided the administration with a quiet exit from the debacle that they, at least in part, had created.

Ted Cruz and Barack Obama best friends? All right, maybe not. But it’s hard to argue that the Texas senator’s recent actions didn’t help the president extract himself from a very difficult situation. After all, when was the last time you saw a report on Syria lead the news?

Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andy Rapp, Q-TV, Delta College, or PBS.

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Currently Speaking host Andy Rapp

Veteran journalist Andy Rapp has been hosting Currently Speaking since 1999.

Each week, he's joined live in the studio by journalists, academics, and experts. Along with viewers at home, they tackle the local, national, and global issues that matter most.