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Greatest Hits from the Ted Cruz Filibuster

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Ted Cruz’s mammoth, historically-long “filibuster”—in quotes like that because, while it was a very long speech on the floor, it didn’t have a parliamentary impact on the upcoming vote he wishes to delay—was less dramatic than Wendy Davis’s filibuster—no quotes necessary—here in Texas. Overnight Davis went from “Hold on, yeah, Wikipedia says she’s a state senator” to an international celebrity. With Cruz, there was nothing at stake. He agreed in advance to yield the floor, as per Senate rules, to allow the final vote. He didn’t face any three-points-of-order-and-you’re-out rules, and the only threat of the word “germane” being uttered was by Senator Cruz himself, in the event that he started listing Jackson 5 members (a legitimate possibility, considering some of the left-turns his speech took). 

But just because it wasn’t high-stakes doesn’t mean that there wasn’t plenty to appreciate in Cruz’s speech. Here are some highlights:

Ted Cruz shouted-out to Ashton Kutcher within the first two hours

Senator Cruz drew on a speech from Ashton Kutcher at the Teen Choice Awards that went viral earlier this year to make one of his points. To be fair to Senator Cruz, Kutcher’s speech included lines like, “opportunity looks a lot like hard work” and, “I’ve never had a job that I was better than,” which are both fairly germane to Cruz’s political philosophy. 

 

He read his daughters a bed-time story

He attempted, perhaps clumsily, to tie Green Eggs and Ham to Obamacare—something that led critics on Twitter to remind the Senator that the story is about someone who thinks he hates something, only to learn he actually likes it. But as far as his performance goes, Senator Cruz delivered the Seuss-ian rhymes with a steady, pleasing cadence. 

Meanwhile, New Yorker writer Philip Gourevitch countered:

Cruz likes White Castle

I mean, who doesn’t? Cruz’s homage to the home of the “little burgers” was part of a larger point about lost jobs and hardships on employers, but that context has basically already been lost to time, while “I like their little burgers” will live on for ages. 

 

He read supporter Tweets tagged with #MakeDCListen

It wasn’t all burgers and Ashton Kutcher for the Senator: supporters of his filibuster were frequently frustrated by the focus on the sillier moments, while the substance of his performance was often ignored. Those supporters got their chance to be heard in the Senate record, though, as he read a smattering of their tweets. The Atlantic captured a handful of those in their live-blog of the event.

 Tired of seeing DC disregard the Constitution and repudiate their oath #MakeDCListen

Cruz covered “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” as a spoken word performance

He promised not to sing it, because he said that would “violate the Geneva Convention,” which is probably being hard on himself. But his intonation of the Bush-era country hit by Toby Keith (an Obama supporter) was a bit stilted, compared to his delivery of Green Eggs and Ham. To be fair, though, it’s hard to nail Keith’s line about an eagle soaring without the guitar behind you, and he censored the “’cause we’ll put a boot in your ass” line as a courtesy to CSPAN, which broke his rhythm. 

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