Cries of anger and outrage from the Morning Joe panel early Wednesday suggested a horrible event had happened the night before.
David Gregory, Chris Matthews, Mia, Joe and more wailed and wailed in a long chorus of keening that would have been appropriate to a national tragedy of some sort.
But what had set them off was just a long, long speech by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, with an assist from a handful of allies including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Utah Senator Mike Lee, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
The Cruzapalooza had thrown most of Establishment D.C. and nearly all of the Manhattan-Beltway media elite into paroxysms of rage alternating with grief that would have been appropriate in the aftermath of the gassing of the Syrian children but which juxtaposed to Senator Cruz's all-nighter raised doubts not about Cruz but about all of his overwrought critics.
What set them off? Why is the Texas freshman so obnoxious to them?
Simply put, Cruz is the Sid Luckman of American politics. Luckman revolutionized the position of quarterback in his 12 seasons with the Bears that ended in 1950. Luckman in essence created a whole new playbook, which is what Cruz is doing for another contact sport. Cruz is revolutionizing politics by harnassing a deep national disgust with Beltway elites into a transformative energy that is reactivating and redirecting the Tea party movement and an even broader swath of the GOP grassroots via new techniques.
Cruz is re-animating the Reagan Coalition, and though his opponents deny this, Cruz is doing so while keeping Reagan's famed 11th commandment by keeping his criticisms of elites general not specific. He does not speak ill of Senator John McCain, for example, despite the 2008 GOP nominees repeated attacks on Cruz, Paul and other "whacko birds." Critics of Cruz are trying to use Cruz's summoning of the politics of appeasement in his Tuesday night performance as an indictment of him, but claims that Cruz compared his opponents to Nazis are just flat out false, and they aren't slowing down the Texas tornado. Cruz just keeps cruising along, and this genial, sophisticated, very smart demeanor is driving his opponents within and outside the GOP crazy.
A lot of this looks like simple jealousy. Cruz made his own way and toppled big money and old guards as he thrust himself forward in Texas and now in Washington. His very big brain --you don't get to argue eight Supreme Court cases because you are lucky-- is intimidating to the average elected, and his rhetorical giftedness leaves many of the (much) lesser lights in D.C. alternately baffled and deeply envious.
Cruz smiles, takes out the rhetorical rapier, and reduces his interlocutors to sputtering incoherence mixed with hapless outrage. (Google Diane Feinstein and Cruz for a great example of dithering, entitled privilege colliding with forceful argument). He is also building an enormous war chest of data and future contributors while establishing in a way that no one can dispute that he did everything he could to stop the Obamacare nightmare before it engulfed the American health care system in chaos. Nicely done that. Well played Mr. Bond.
Cruz's potential rivals for the 2016 nomination sense what is happening. Some, like Senator Rubio, have decided to draft off of Cruz's huge momentum. Others aren't saying much. No serious contender for the nod has attacked Cruz because to do so is to forfeit a big segment of the GOP grassroots before the race even begins.
No, the Cruz loudest critics on the right are among the fading and the faded, and of course all across the left side of the spectrum fear is driving the hatred.
No matter. There is a new quarterback in town. He has a new play book. And it is working.