Thursday, January 07, 2016


Rich Lowry thinks we're wrong to regard Ted Cruz as an unbending hardliner:
... Cruz is an amazingly supple adamantine politician. He benefits from the old Mark Twain adage that once you get a reputation as an early riser, you can sleep ’til noon every day. Cruz’s unbending image makes it possible for him to bend as it suits him.
A few examples:
When Rand Paul seemed to be on the ascendancy a couple of years ago, Cruz was a Reagan Republican with Paulite accents. When Donald Trump began to dominate, Cruz became a Reagan Republican with Trumpian tendencies....

He penned an op-ed with Paul Ryan in The Wall Street Journal last April that was a ringingly stalwart argument for trade-promotion authority. Two months later, when a brushfire erupted on the right over “Obamatrade,” Cruz abruptly reversed course and came out against trade-promotion authority -- he cited procedural reasons -- and then opposed the underlying trade agreement as well.

Or consider immigration. During the Gang of Eight debate, Cruz made stirring, table-thumping professions of his profound support for legal immigration, demonstrated by his advocacy for drastic increases in the H1B visa program. As soon as Trump released his immigration plan attacking H1Bs last August, the odds of Cruz changing on the issue were quite high. Sure enough, he now opposes greater legal immigration and wants a moratorium on H1Bs.
I've had the thought that Cruz is not viscerally a hardcore opponent of gay rights -- one day he says that the fight against same-sex marriage will be "front and center" in his campaign or recommends that states ignore the Supreme Court's rejection of gay-marriage bans, another days he's seeking donations from gay businessmen or telling other donors that the marriage fight is not a "top-three priority" for him.

But don't think I'm going soft on Cruz. I think he's dangerous. In fact, this is one big reason why he's dangerous.

I thinkt Cruz is an amoral guy who'd do anything to get ahead. Lowry, arguing that Cruz isn't an ideologue in the mold of Barry Goldwater, often an alternate comparison:
The better analogue for Cruz might be Richard Nixon, not in the crudely pejorative sense, but as another surpassingly shrewd and ambitious politician who lacked a personal touch but found a way to win nonetheless....

Cruz is cut from roughly similar cloth. He wears his ambition on his sleeve and is not highly charismatic or relatable. In high school, he could have been voted most likely to be seen walking on the beach in his dress shoes. If Cruz wins the nomination, it will be on the strength of intelligence and willpower. He will have outworked, outsmarted and outmaneuvered everyone else.

Certainly, Cruz is not ascending on the basis of warm feelings from his colleagues. Cruz portrays his unpopularity within the Senate as establishment distaste for him as a lonely man of principle. But it is a genuine personal dislike. Not that Cruz cares. In fact, a key to what he has been able to achieve is his apparent immunity to the reflexive desire to be liked by people around you, a weakness to which almost all of us fall prey. Cruz is free of the peer pressure that typically makes all senators, at some level, team players.
Nixon, of course, desperately wanted to be liked -- but he knew he wasn't likable or charismatic. He took his unpopularity as a given, and concentrated on advancing his own cause by any means necessary. I think Cruz does that, too.

If there's no limit on what you'll do to get ahead, and if (as is certainly true in Cruz's case) the voters you seek include a lot of angry, hateful resentniks, then, sure, you might go in a right-centrist direction on one or two issues for strategic purposes, but you might also go full-bore Trumpian fascist or Huckabeean Christian jihadist if you think that will win you the voters' favor.

I think Ted Cruz is an ambitious ex-debate squad nerd who thinks none of this has real-world meaning. I'm not sure what his limits are -- or if he has any at all. That's why he scares me.

(Lowry link via Taegan Goddard.)


Frank McCormick said...

Yes. This.

As a Texas resident, I am very, very scared of Ted Cruz.

Victor said...

If chameleons were poisonous, they would be perfect animals to compare Teddy Cruz-ader with.

Of course, like a chameleon, Cruz-ader's ability to blend in, is somewhat limited.
He would never even think of of taking a liberal, empathetic position. It's not in his sociopathic nature.

But on the right, he feels free to maneuver. And he is, make no mistake about it, a talented politician.
He is also a dangerous, dangerous man, because he doesn't look at the means, only the ends.

If there's any ray of sunshine, it's that to know Ted, is to loathe him.
He looks fine to authoritarian followers, but to anyone but them, he is a loathsome demagogue.
And a religious one. And THAT makes him even more dangerous!!!

Danny Lewis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gocart mozart said...

Ted Cruz is a smarter more sober Joe McCarthy.

swkellogg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
swkellogg said...

This is spot on.

You'd think the hyper-Brylcreamed used car salesman look would put most people on edge, but I guess it will still play in Peoria.

Personally, he makes my skin crawl.