Tuesday, December 01, 2015

KEEP IT SIMPLE (AND STUPID), TED

Is this really going to be effective for Ted Cruz?
Ted Cruz on Monday offered his strongest denunciation so far of Marco Rubio's foreign policy views, assailing his Republican presidential rival as a proponent of “military adventurism” that he said has benefited Islamic militant groups....

“Senator Rubio emphatically supported Hillary Clinton in toppling [Muammar] Qaddafi in Libya. I think that made no sense,” Cruz told Bloomberg Politics in a wide-ranging and exclusive interview during a campaign swing through Iowa. He argued that the 2011 bombings that toppled the Libyan leader didn't help the fight against terrorists. “Qaddafi was a bad man, he had a horrible human rights record. And yet ... he had become a significant ally in fighting radical Islamic terrorism.”

“The terrorist attack that occurred in Benghazi was a direct result of that massive foreign policy blunder,” Cruz said....

The Texan portrayed himself as a third way between the stalwart, non-interventionist views of Senator Rand Paul and pro-interventionist policies in pursuit of spreading democracy and human rights through the Middle East that Rubio espouses. Cruz's belief is that trying to democratize those societies can be counterproductive and that U.S. military power should be focused narrowly on protecting U.S. interests.

“If you look at President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and for that matter some of the more aggressive Washington neo-cons, they have consistently mis-perceived the threat of radical Islamic terrorism and have advocated military adventurism that has had the effect of benefiting radical Islamic terrorists,” he said.
I understand why Cruz would want to hang Benghazi around Rubio's neck. But the rest of what he's saying doesn't seem as if it's going to hit the pleasure centers in wingnut voters' brains. "Military adventurism" is bad? The Ron/Rand Paul contingent of the GOP might believe that, but that voting bloc just seems to get smaller and smaller every day. (Seen Rand's poll numbers lately?)

Cruz is trying to articulate his foreign policy philosophy the way candidates have traditionally done it: by making detailed pronouncements and comparing himself to other candidates using traditional categories. He's not an "interventionist"; he's not an "isolationist." Thoughtful panelists on Sunday talk shows will ponder this and consider whether they've assigned him to the wrong"lane" in the presidential race.

But all that is completely irrelevant to the race as it's actually taking place, because the frontrunner, Donald Trump, is going straight for those wingnut pleasure centers, which tingle at the thought of killing lots and lots of brown people. Yes, Trump is somewhat less interventionist than Rubio, which puts him in the same foreign policy "lane" as Cruz, according to the thoughtful pundits. But Trump's "plan" for ISIS, he's told us, is this: "I would bomb the shit out of them." Every wingnut gets a thrill up the leg from that. And even the best-known example of Trump's purported non-interventionism -- "If Putin wants to knock the hell out of ISIS, I’m all for it 100 percent and I can’t understand how anybody would be against that" -- imagines brown-skinned terrorists being killed by a strongman who presumably doesn't care about avoidance of civilian casualties or "political correctness." Those of us who are actually paying attention know that Putin isn't particularly interested in fighting ISIS, but to Trump's fans, this idea probably seems like more red meat.

Cruz can formulate whatever policy doctrine he chooses -- but in public he should emphasize vengeance and rage if he wants to have a shot at defeating Trump. He's trying too hard to be a normal politician. He needs to be a crude simpleton.

4 comments:

mlbxxxxxx said...

I wish every time they bring up Libya, the media would ask what their solution to Libya would have been. Should we have stood by and watch Qaddafi slaughter his people? Maybe a full scale invasion/occupation? As I recall there was no consensus on the right vis a vis Libya -- nor on Syria. (I do remember their monolithic support of the Iraq adventure that started us down this road, though.) Just lots of bad choices and Obama left holding the bag. What a booby prize the presidency has turned out to be for him personally. I'd like to live to see him get the credit he deserves for riding herd over the mess he was left. But I think Carter will be rehabilitated before Obama is.

Unknown said...

"if he wants to have a shot at defeating Trump"

What if he does NOT? Want that, I mean.

Of course he 'wants' wants to win 'the game'; and of course that means Trump does NOT win - in the sense of gaining the nomination THEN the White House.

If Cruz is such a smarty-pants - I think we agree he is - what would possibly delude him into thinking HE could 'beat' TRUMP? Cruz NEVER wants to be seen as 'beating' Trump. He wants Trump's supporters more anyone's.

Trump may leave, or Trump may lose in this contest for the nomination, or Trump may win the nomination and lose the general, and in each of those senses, Trump 'will have lost'. But Cruz can't make, or be perceiving as making, any of those happen. And I think Cruz is fully aware of that.

Under various game theories, I've at least been consistent in asserting we will NEVER see Cruz attack Trump, or indeed do or say ANYTHING that could be construed as an attack on Trump. If Trump leaves in this cycle, for whatever reason, then Cruz, IMO, would expecting that when that happens the only remaining serious contestants will be Cruz and Rubio.

If Trump DOES NOT leave, but fails to win the GOP nomination, the BLAME for that can be turned on to the GOP establishment. Cruz loves doing that sort of thing. We know he WILL do it, especially if and when Rubio (or, quite a bit less likely Bush or Kasich) 'defeats' Trump with GOP establishment support (so easy to allege even if not really true; but here, it will have the added safety margin of being true), then goes on to lose the general.

If Rubio wins the general, fine: Cruz will have 'lost'. THAT is Cruz' real risk scenario in all this.

But if Rubio loses, then all this puts Cruz in the 'my turn' seat for the 2020 cycle - with the full support of Trump, and indeed quite possibly that of Rubio, for whom Cruz will have 'worked so hard to elect' during the general election campaign.

Cruz, IMO, knows his Nixon.

Victor said...

@ Unknown,
Like you, I think Cruz is a smart and truly evil pol.
But, unlike you, I don't think he thinks as far ahead as you think he does.

Before I spend more time on this, I'll have to take more time to think. ;-)

I just got back from the doctor's office, and took a couple of Perc's, so I don't want to pull a Rick Perry while I'm to explain my position.

Paul Coppock said...

This is a safe move for Cruz. Polls show that the public is massively against a new war in the Middle East. That probably includes a large chunk of the GOP base, even though they love to scream about Radical-Islam-comin'-to-getcha 24/7/365. It won't hurt him with them, and it leaves open a non-crazy position for the general election if he wins the nomination.