“I really think a filibuster is the political version of twerking,” comedian and satirist Bill Maher said on HBO Friday night, referring to Senator Ted Cruz’s 21-hour Senate floor filibuster last week. “He reminds me of Miley Cyrus…because he is not afraid to incur the wrath of even some of his fans for the greater good of drawing attention to himself.”
Cruz, a Tea Party hero, attempted to shame his fellow Republicans into shutting down the government if Obamacare isn’t defunded. The heavy media coverage of Cruz’s lengthy, sometimes laughable, speech was generally negative, and comedians relished poking fun at Cruz’s reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” and his imitation of Darth Vader, among other Senate floor silliness. Many high profile Republicans including Senator John McCain and Congressman Peter King were publicly critical. King and his staffers have since endured terribly nasty phone calls from Tea Party supporters as a result. “I think what we have to do is reach out to (Cruz’s) people and let them know that they’re following a false leader here,” King said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show.
I heard a reporter frame Senator Cruz’s filibuster as “putting publicity before policy.” But despite the anger and often mocking coverage, Bill Maher may be wrong; Cruz might not have incurred the wrath of his fans. In fact, according to The Huffington Post, “Only a few days before the speech, a YouGov poll conducted Sept. 20-21 showed 52 percent had no opinion of Cruz. At that time, 24 percent had a favorable opinion of Cruz and 25 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion. Among Republicans, favorable opinion of Cruz jumped from 46 percent in the earlier poll to 61 percent in the new poll, while those saying they were unable to rate Cruz dropped from 46 percent to 30 percent.”
Does this poll add proof to the old adage that “all publicity is good publicity?” PR pros don’t believe that. But Senator Cruz is certainly not the first politician to put publicity before policy. With the debt ceiling vote looming, did Cruz sacrifice real responsibility in exchange for a high visibility performance? Your thoughts?