Even for the best of causes, the Senate filibuster is a water torture of words, an effort to irritate or bore opponents into submission. With the help of fellow parliamentary Luddites, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has taken his exercise in futility to new heights of silliness.
His cause is not the best. In truth, it is cruel, being the act of a well-off elected official with health insurance who is seeking to deny millions of not-affluent Americans the same chance by defunding the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Nor was his stand technically a filibuster; it was just a page out of the same playbook.
Mr. Cruz and other Tea Party disciples may not want to shut the government, but they are happy to do so. They care only about getting their own way, and never mind the judgment of the American people who voted to return President Barack Obama to office in the election last year in which his health care plan was a major issue.
To know that the senator's long-winded rant was sound and fury signifying nothing, people need only to pay attention to his words. "Everyone in America knows Obamacare is destroying the economy," he said in embarking on his 21-hour marathon.
Really? How could that be true? The law hasn't even been fully implemented -- the health insurance markets under the act do not open until Tuesday, the same day the government will be shuttered if Mr. Cruz gets his way.
Mr. Cruz even had the gall to compare his efforts to leaders who stood against the Nazis, ended the Cold War or started the American revolution. The whole idea is absurd: The Nazis wanted universal health care coverage? Who knew?
But perhaps Mr. Cruz and the Nazis have something in common -- the repeated use of the Big Lie, as Adolf Hitler himself dubbed claims so preposterous that people were apt to believe that they had to be true. No wonder Republican leaders who don't like Obamacare but still possess common sense shuddered for every hour that Mr. Cruz spoke.