Ted Cruz may have made great inroads with Christian evangelicals, but conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks isn’t buying the candidate’s “dark and satanic tones.”Brooks thinks that's a recipe for failure. He thinks Marco Rubio has a much better approach, although he worries that Rubio is mimicking Cruz.
In an interview this weekend with PBS, Brooks tells host Judy Woodruff that Cruz’s world is “combative,” “angry,” and “apocalyptic.”
... “If you watch a Cruz speech, it’s like, we have got this enemy, we have got that enemy, we’re going to stomp on this person, we’re going to crush that person, we’re going to destroy that person."
BROOKS: ... it’s dark and combative, and, frankly, harsh. It’s a harsh -- [Cruz] gets some jokes in the beginning, but then it’s just, we have enemies. We’re in an apocalyptic situation. We’re on the edge of the abyss. You need a tough guy to beat that back. And that’s his personality. That’s not Marco Rubio’s personality. He’s a sunny -- he’s been running the youthful optimism campaign, but he’s beginning, to prevent Cruz from getting liftoff, to mimic sort of that, get a piece of that. I personally think it’s a mistake....We've heard similar things about Donald Trump -- that he has a "dark view of the nation" and all that. Conventional wisdom says that optimists succeed in presidential races. And yet it's Trump and Cruz who are winning on the Republican side.
I've been reading about the 1960s counterculture recently, and today we all woke up to learn that David Bowie is dead. It's all reminding me of growing up in the 1970s, as one of the kids who were effectively the younger siblings of the sixties generation. We picked up sixties politics, but before we could do anything politically, we saw a lot of hope crashing and burning. We came of age in a time of energy crisis and stagflation and Nixon and the botched activism of Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army.
Our era was post-Altamont more than it was post-Woodstock. We had the first wave of satanic metal, and we had Bowie invoking suicide, dystopia, apocalypse, fascism, and genocide.
America right now feels a lot more like the seventies than the sixties.
Cruz and Trump are candidates for a country without a lot of hope. I don't know if this means they'll win -- the dark, satanic Richard Nixon won in 1968 and 1972, then we elected a hopeful candidate, Jimmy Carter, in 1976 -- but the two merchants of gloom really seem to reflect the zeitgeist. I wish one of the Democratic contenders had the inclination to address this aspect of the national mood; in that case, I might feel more confident in November's outcome. For now, I think Cruz and Trump have a better sense of how Americans feel right now.