Politics is, to a degree we don't often notice, mostly about talking. Politicians describe what they do in heroic, usually martial terms—they "fight" for things, they wage "battles," and so on—but what they actually do is talk, and talk, and talk some more. They talk on the floor of Congress, they talk in committees, they talk to constituents, they talk to each other. There are a few of them, oddly enough, who are not particularly good at talking. But the successful ones are almost all good talkers. So it isn't too surprising that Ted Cruz, the former debate champion who is known as an exceptionally good talker, is able to get up and talk about the satanic plot that is Obamacare for 18 hours straight. There's something fitting about this last stand.
Let's recall that just a few days ago, Cruz was being branded a traitor by Tea Partiers simply for acknowledging that the defunding effort will fail in the Senate. So what better way to get back in their good graces than a grandiose, utterly futile symbolic gesture? That's pretty much what the Tea Party is all about, after all. Cruz's long speech won't actually change anything, either on the question of whether the Senate will pass a continuing resolution defunding the Affordable Care Act (it won't) or whether the ACA will take effect (it will). But in case you are one of the 99.99 percent of Americans who didn't bother to tune in to this remarkable feat of rhetorical endurance, here's a good description: