Republicans are at it again: an ambitious member of their party has them seeing starbursts, primarily because they think this particular Republican terrifies and infuriates us.
I'm referring, of course, to Ted Cruz. Here's Rich Lowry, writing at Politico:
Henry Adams said that politics is the systematic organization of hatreds. For the left, over the past year it has seemed at times to be the systematic organization of hatred of Ted Cruz....(Try to follow the logic of that last bit: People on the left think all conservatives are stupid, as evidenced by ... a prominent left-leaning commentator saying that Cruz is actually very smart. Yup, makes sense to me.)
Cruz is ... a Princeton and Harvard man who not only matriculated at those fine institutions but excelled at them. Champion debater at Princeton. Magna cum laude graduate at Harvard. Supreme Court clerkship, on the way to Texas solicitor general and dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cruz is from the intellectual elite, but not of it, a tea party conservative whose politics are considered gauche at best at the storied universities where he studied. He is, to borrow the words of the 2009 H.W. Brands biography of FDR, a traitor to his class....
Democrats and liberal pundits would surely dislike Cruz no matter where he went to school, but his pedigree adds an extra element of shocked disbelief to the disdain....
One of the left's deepest prejudices is that its opponents are stupid, and Cruz tramples on it. Chris Hayes of MSNBC actually says he fears Cruz's brilliance.
National Review's Michael Walsh goes even further, in a masterpiece of projection titled "Keep Punching":
In the contest between Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, I have no idea who will win the battle for conservative hearts and minds, but I do know this: It's about time somebody in the GOP started acting like Democrats. By which I mean, both Cruz and Paul realize that Campaign '16 has already started, and unlike the clueless Mitt Romney, you don't wait until you’ve secured the nomination to turn your attention to the foe. Instead, you prep the battlefield by pounding him relentlessly, all day, every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, well in advance of the actual election. Like the Left, you should never stop, never sleep, never quit....No, we don't want to turn Ted Cruz into the male Sarah Palin, because we didn't turn Sarah Palin into the female Sarah Palin -- she did that to herself, which is more or less what we expect Ted Cruz to do. We didn't fear Sarah Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency because we thought she would be a devastatingly effective officeholder who would expertly skewer our sacred cows -- if we feared her, it was because she's extreme and ignorant and about as emotionally stable as Anthony Weiner having a Cialis overdose. But starting in about late September 2008, we stopped fearing Palin at all. She'd beclowned herself.
Why? Because that's the way they play the game -- not just the party operatives, but their legions of media hacks in control of the Narrative, and their allies in academe who represent the indoctrination wing of la Causa....
Still, as the great philosopher Mike Tyson famously observed, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." The counter-punching from Cruz and Rand has already thrown the Left off its game, which is why it's reacted to Cruz like screeching vampires suddenly confronting a crucifix. They want to turn him into the male Sarah Palin, but there’s those pesky little details like his Senate seat and his Harvard pedigree....
Cruz is smarter than Palin -- a low bar to clear -- but he's naive if he thinks the road to the White House passes through the Valley of World Net Daily Talking Points. That may be the road to the Republican nomination this time around, but it's not going to win him the presidency, any more than being a guy who seems to take no pleasure in anything apart from contempt for liberalism is going to win him the presidency. (Chris Christie loves to bash liberals, too, but he seems to have a human side apart from that, which is what makes him a legitimate threat.)
But what is it with Republicans and their obsessive quest for the ultimate Dem-destroying nominee? Dave Weigel alluded to this during the 2012 primaries, back when Newt Gingrich was temporarily riding high:
When he talks to Republicans, especially to Republican voters who may not be inclined to back him, Newt Gingrich wins them over with a promise. He will outsmart Barack Obama. He will challenge him to "seven Lincoln-Douglas-style debates," as he said last week at the Republican Jewish Coalition's confab. The president can even "use a teleprompter," jokes Gingrich. It's one of the tightest punchlines in conservative politics.Then again, before that, the same voters felt that way about Herman Cain. And, before that, about Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. And many of them hope that Trump or Ben Carson or Allen West or Cruz will be the nominee, just because they talk a lot of trash about Democrats and liberals.
... [Republicans have] started to imagine him facing off against Barack Obama, the president they consider a pure media creation who can't put two words together unless they're in blue type on a screen in front of him....
Now, granted, the people who embody these wingnut hopes haven't actually won the Republican nomination. But they drive the eventual winner very, very far to the right, and quite possibly (in 2008 and 2012) to defeat.
Democrats don't do any of this. Even Democrats who hope a progressive champion will fight for the nomination primarily want someone who'll embody progressive values, not bash our enemies. If we wanted an enemy-basher, there'd be an Alan Grayson for president movement as large as the Cruz cult.
Who's the dream candidate of progressives? Elizabeth Warren, who's unfailingly polite. Warren doesn't shy from a fight, but she doesn't seem to take pleasure in the act of fighting. I can't remember the last Republican cult hero you could say that about.