WASHINGTON — Political commentator Ben Stein told PJ Media that the Republican Party has been damaged after the government shutdown but that the effect will not be “lasting.”
Stein also said Obamacare does not “bother” him at all, adding that it’s not the “end of the world.”
Stein was the host of the American Spectator’s annual Robert L. Bartley dinner in Washington on Wednesday night, which featured remarks by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and entrepreneur Donald Trump.
“I think they’ve been damaged but I don’t think it will be lasting. I mean, it will last for a while but then nothing lasts forever — but I think the Republican Party should’ve played it a little smarter than that,” Stein said.
When asked what Republicans should have done along the way, Stein argued that they “should’ve just said it’s [Obamacare] a bad bill but we’re not going to shut down the government over it; we’re just going to try to make it better.”
Stein said he personally does not have “any specific problem” with the healthcare law.
“I’m not one of the people who thinks it’s the end of the world; I don’t think it’s the end of the world at all. I am not upset about it. When I worked for Mr. Nixon we proposed universal health care and nobody even thought about it very much, so it doesn’t bother me at all, sorry,” the former president’s onetime speechwriter told PJ Media before the dinner began.
Before Cruz took the stage as the event’s keynote speaker, Stein called Cruz the “one person in the Senate who stood up and was willing to tell the truth, was willing to do it until his last ounce of energy had left him, was willing to be mocked and belittled.”
Stein was referring to Cruz’s effort to defund the healthcare law in the budget battle with Democrats that eventually led to the government shutdown.
“When the history of how socialism was stopped in the United States of America is told, and it will be told at some point, it will be told, there will be a name that will be in gleaming gold ink and that will be Senator Cruz,” said Stein.
“I’ll do my very, very best to keep my remarks under 21 hours,” quipped Cruz, adding, “21 hours is a long time, it’s a really long time – it’s almost as long it takes to sign up on the Obamacare website.”
Reflecting back on the debate over the passage of a continuing resolution to keep the government funded, Cruz criticized Senate Republicans for not uniting with Republicans in the House.
“Unfortunately, Senate Republicans didn’t unite, didn’t support House Republicans. Instead, a lot of Senate Republicans actively, vigorously, vocally attacked House Republicans,” he said. “That ensured the strategy could not succeed.”