Look, I expect that people who seek political office will try to calibrate their positions to electoral realities. What's surprising about Ted Cruz's upcoming campaign for president -- yes, he's almost certainly running, as this National Journal story makes clear -- is how unapologetic he is about his political calculations:
... Cruz appears ready to deploy the U.S. military, but not in a nation-building or occupation capacity, a position his team likely calculates as a poll winner, considering Americans' dissatisfaction with unsuccessful efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.Cruz himself says this, for the record -- he doesn't say, "This is what I believe is best for the country," he says this is the "sweet spot." He's admitting that the point of taking this position is that it seems like an appealing niche in the political marketplace. Surely other pols are this cynical, but Cruz flaunts his cynicism.
"If and when military action is called for, it should be A) with a clearly defined military objective, B) executed with overwhelming force, and C) when we're done we should get the heck out," he said. "I don't think it's the job of our military to engage in nation-building. It is the job of our military to protect America and to hunt down and kill those who would threaten to murder Americans. It is not the job of our military to occupy countries across the globe and try to turn them into democratic utopias."
... he added: "In the Senate there is a wide spectrum of views on foreign policy. On one end of the spectrum you have Rand Paul; on a very different end of the spectrum you have John McCain. Both have been forceful about their views on foreign policy. I would characterize my position as a third point on the triangle."
Cruz calls this "the sweet spot."
There's also this:
Cruz has never been shy about showing solidarity with the Jewish state....This is one of Cruz's own advisers admitting that the whole thing is primarily just a cynical anti-Paul strategy. If you were a hardcore Zionist, why would you take Cruz's support for Israel seriously after reading this?
Cruz has made three trips to Israel in less than two years in office. He has referenced the country thousands of times on the Senate floor, according to the Congressional Record. He has even begun meeting privately with Jewish leaders and advocacy groups during recent trips to early primary states. To leave no doubts, Cruz welcomes visitors to his personal office with a large, framed photograph of himself, his wife, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Sources close to Cruz say much of this is meant to exploit the anxiety within the pro-Israel movement about Paul, who once echoed his father in suggesting an end to Israeli foreign aid....
"It's no accident that Cruz is sponsoring bill after bill, making speech after speech, about Israel and mentioning Israeli citizens and Israeli causes -- all with Rand right there in the chamber," said one Cruz adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the senator's strategy.
Since our politicians (or at least the Republicans) don't do any actual governing anymore, I suppose it was only a matter of time before a young politician embraced and celebrated politics as a pure process of self-advancement, with no pretense of concern for America's welfare. Cruz reminds me of Mark Kostabi, the notorious 1980s art-world figure whose canvases were actually executed by hired painters and who described modern art as "a con," telling the world that "suckers buy my work." Well, I'd say suckers vote for Cruz.