Saturday, December 19, 2015


Ted Cruz is rising in the polls. We're happy about that, aren't we? Doesn't it mean that the two top Republicans in the presidential race are unlikable, offputting hate spewers who perform poorly in general-election matchups? Also, the two leaders like each other, which means there's the possibility of a Donald Trump/Ted Cruz ticket, even if Trump's ego makes a Cruz/Trump ticket unimaginable. That's terrific, no? And while most of the Very Smart People in politics insist that Trump can't really win the nomination, they think Cruz could succeed, and that's great for the Democrats, because no reasonable person could possibly see him as likable, or as anything other than a bile-spewing monster.


That's what I've been thinking. The problem is, Cruz is working hard to change his image -- and he's having some success.

Check this out:
Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz will air a Christmas-themed parody infomercial during the broadcast of this weekend’s “Saturday Night Live.”

... The ad, which features the Texas senator read Christmas classics like “Rudolph the Underemployed Reindeer” and “The Grinch Who Lost Her Emails,” will air in key Iowa markets Saturday night, campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told the Independent Journal.

“In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, we are excited to bring a Cruz family Christmas into the homes of SNL viewers in Iowa,” she told the website. “Ted is a long time fan of SNL, so the chance to film his own SNL-style commercial was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up!”

On one level, this is cringe-inducing. On another level, the ad -- which features Cruz's wife and two young, adorable daughters -- makes him seem like a harmless suburban dad you'd probably think of as a good family man if he were your neighbor, even if you hated his politics. (A lot of political observers think Mitt Romney hurt himself in 2012 by not doing a lot of dorky-dad ads, and Cruz seems determined not to make the same mistake.) The jokes are the usual tiresome right-wing attacks -- Lois Lerner! Obamacare! -- but done up this way, they seem almost gentle. And yet if, like Cruz, you're middle-aged, the comedy probably seems almost hip. Most humorous political ads are so wheezy and dated that this seems practically postmodern by comparison.

Cruz has been working hard to make himself seem human and relatable. A couple of weeks ago there was a wave of stories about the appearance on YouTube of Cruz "B-roll" -- unused raw footage from ads featuring the candidate and members of his family. The story was that the Cruz campaign and Cruz-affiliated super PACs can't actually work together on ads, but the campaign is allowed to post raw footage online, which the super PACs can then magically happen upon and use in ads of their own.

The real story, however, was that the Cruz campaign got media outlets, including many that aren't usually Cruz-friendly, to post highlight reels depicting Cruz as -- again -- a genial dork dad in a plaid shirt, and much less of a monster than many of us think he is. Here's Gawker's compilation:

This isn't funny. This is scary. Cruz could be the nominee, and much of the public really might fall for this sort of thing and imagine that he's not really a bad guy, and certainly not the dangerous extremist he actually is.

Let me remind you that in the Real Clear Politics averages, Cruz trails Hillary Clinton by only 2.6 points. (Trump trails Clinton by 6.6.) In the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Clinton beats Trump by 10, but she beats Cruz by only 3.

Because most people don't follow politics very closely, Cruz's awfulness is not self-evident to the broad public. He might be surprisingly good at softening his image. If so, be afraid.


Kay said...

I don't know, I'm a little past middle age, and this ad seems an awful lot like Carson's tone-deaf rap ad to me. Yes, the girls are cute (if a little too obviously mugging for the cameras). But the "jokes" are just really lame, as well as insider-y. Do you really think that people who are not tuned in to politics know who Lois Lerner is? Do people who don't watch Fox have any idea that there is supposed to be a war on Christmas?

Raymond Smith said...

I believe that this is covered under a Leopard cannot change it's spots. No matter how hard Cruz tries to misrepresent himself. There are way to many people that will see right through it as nothing more then a sugar coated turd.

Unknown said...


mlbxxxxxx said...

IMO, Cruz is a very dangerous candidate. I'm all for Trump going all the way to the nomination, if possible, but Cruz -- do not want to see him anywhere near the nomination. Much less the presidency. I actually think a Trump presidency would not be the end of the world for progressives. Cruz, however, is beyond the pale. Interesting that the two of them both seem less inclined to meddle in Syria and the Middle East generally than the others (Cruz carpet-bombing ISIS notwithstanding.)

Steve M. said...

But the "jokes" are just really lame, as well as insider-y. Do you really think that people who are not tuned in to politics know who Lois Lerner is? Do people who don't watch Fox have any idea that there is supposed to be a war on Christmas?

This is aimed specifically at Iowa Republicans, and is airing only in Iowa. Cruz is assuming that if you're Republican and politically engaged enough to caucus, you probably watch Fox and/or listen to talk radio, and so all of this is familiar to you.

But underlying this is the soft-focus stuff, which he can use in a less ideological way in the fall, if he gets that far.

Anonymous said...

Not going to lie. I am very much a conservative and the dude creeps me the heck out.


P.S. Not a trump fan either.

retiredeng said...

I expect the fight between Cruz and Trump to get really nasty. Especially if Cruz starts to get better polls and/or wins Iowa. Trump will snarl nasty crap at Cruz and Cruz will have to reciprocate. I find it hard to believe he can keep up this charade forever. And Cruz is so disliked by the "moderate" Republicans that there's sure to be a lot of attacks from that corner.

Anonymous said...

Virtually everyone who has ever spent extended time with Ted Cruz hates his guts. That's been true for at least 27 years. I don't think he has the capacity to reinvent himself.

Ten Bears said...

S'OK Patrick, pretty much all of my conservative clientele feel like that. Like "wtf are these bozos?"

Kinda' feel bad for you. Just a little.

Glennis said...

So Mr. Cruz - the guy who totally missed the point of "Green Eggs and Ham" - is using Christmas as the occasion for mean-spiritedness.

How very Christian of him.

Anonymous said...

Gee thanks TB,

Yer all heart. *rolls eyes*

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

Oh, I'd love to see Cruz do even more 'dorky' Dr. Seuss, perhaps he could revise the words to "Hop on Pop" to "Jump on Trump," and recite it while firing off rounds into the air from a bacon-wrapped shotgun.

maxk1947 said...

Why is no one talking about the stageiness of Cruz's raw footage, with an off-camera director clearly telling his friends and family how to make it seem as though they like him?

Ten Bears said...

Sorry Pat, but if it's any consolation I feel pretty much the same for the dems. Some of us may not deserve it but we're all going to get what you people, all of you both sides do do it cons and libs all of you, want.

After ten years of blogging and before that seven years of bulletin board moderation before that it still continues to stun me that the degree of naitivity on the left side of the fever swamp is in fact greater than the degree of stupidity on the right.