Robert Knight

C-Span is more powerful than a fleet of little red wagons, but it felt a lot like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” as Ted Cruz demolished the legitimacy of Obamacare in his 21-hour, 19-minute floor speech last week.

In the classic film, a naïve junior senator played by Jimmy Stewart performs a heroic, overnight filibuster to expose corruption. The media suppress it and viciously attack his character. An army of wagon-pulling children try to report the truth via homespun “newspapers,” only to be waylaid by thugs.

Director Frank Capra, who played American heartstrings like a world-class harpist, giving people hope that truth will triumph (as Stewart’s Sen. Jefferson Smith does), would have loved what was televised on C-Span2 from Sept. 24 to the 25th.

Hour after hour, aided by long questions from fellow Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and others, Cruz not only exposed the socialist intent of Obamacare but also the big-government mindset that is steadily destroying our freedoms.

He gave a lesson in political boxing, dispatching Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who tried to put him on the defensive the way they usually do so easily to Republicans. Cruz had none of it, including Reid’s attempt to hijack the speech during the last hour. When’s the last time you saw a Republican blunt attacks by refusing to back up an inch and swinging hard?

Oh, right. It was Cruz, during a hearing on March 14 in which he lectured Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) about the Second Amendment.

Those not watching Cruz’s actual speech can be forgiven if they think that the U.S. senator from Texas was on a fool’s errand. As in “Mr. Smith,” the drive-by scribes are spinning a single narrative: Cruz is a narcissist whose reckless taste for confrontation will hurt the GOP in 2014.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos opened “Good Morning America” on Wednesday by describing “Tea Party Senator” Cruz’s speech as “bizarre.”

By contrast, notes Media Research Center’s Scott Whitlock, “the networks in June fawned over Democrat Wendy Davis's pro-abortion filibuster in Texas, hailing it as ‘epic’ and praising the state senator as a ‘folk hero.’”

CBS’s Norah O’Donnell posed this question to Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “Are you concerned … that what your fellow senator is doing could hurt your party's chances of taking back the U.S. Senate?”

Nonsense. Without Cruz, Mike Lee, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) and a few others, the GOP wouldn’t even have a message in 2014 other than: “We fought Obamacare and other stuff, sort of, and failed, but….”

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.