Tuesday, December 15, 2015


The Washington Post's James Downie thinks America would benefit from a Ted Cruz victory in the Republican nomination fight, followed by a Cruz defeat in the general election:
If [Cruz] were to be the nominee, it would be good news for the Democrats in the short term and the country in the long term. His ideologically extreme positions would hand Hillary Clinton an edge in what the fundamentals still suggest is otherwise likely to be a close election. And a Cruz loss would be most likely to end the myth on the far right that “Republicans lose presidential elections when they don’t run far enough to the right.” If Trump were nominated and (inevitably) lost, his backers would, as they did with George W. Bush toward the end of his administration, suddenly start declaring him a moderate or even a liberal. Such rewriting of history would be next to impossible with Cruz.
Nope. If Downie believes that Cruz couldn't be retroactively declared a RINO squish, he's naive.

Among the party's elites, the neocons already think Cruz is a squish. Here's Bret Stevens on The Wall Street Journal's op-ed page:
At this point, readers may sense that Mr. Cruz is closer to President Obama when it comes to fighting terrorism than he lets on. His views on metadata collection are identical to those of James Clapper, the incompetent and dishonest Director of National Intelligence whom Mr. Cruz cites approvingly in his [recent foreign policy] speech [at the Heritage Foundation]. He excoriates the Obama administration for hollowing out the military but fails to note that he was one of just two Republican votes (the other was Rand Paul) against the latest National Defense Authorization Act, opposition he justifies on obscure civil-liberty grounds. He cites Libya as a case study in why not to intervene in a Middle Eastern civil war. But he may also have noted that his anti-interventionist instincts precisely track those of Mr. Obama, who was reluctantly dragged into a war he led from behind.

As for Syria, Mr. Cruz insists “we do not have a side in the Syrian civil war” and endorses Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s view that nonintervention allows two evil sides to exhaust themselves in the fighting. But this is indistinguishable from Mr. Obama’s hands-off approach to the conflict, notwithstanding the administration’s flaccid efforts to arm a credible opposition and bomb ISIS.

If your aim is to bomb ISIS until the “sand glows in the dark,” you are taking a side in the conflict. Mr. Cruz knows this. If you want to destroy ISIS without strengthening the Assad regime and its backers in Tehran, you have to target the regime, too. The truth about Syria isn’t that we have no dog in the fight. It’s that we’ve got to fight two dogs. The alternative is the endless chaos in which ISIS incubates and desperate refugees come knocking on our doors.

Again, Mr. Cruz knows this. Again, he’s too smart not to. Intelligence is never in question when it comes to the junior senator from Texas. Character is.
(As an aside, please note that opposition to maximal intervention can't be a simply policy disagreement -- if you don't approve, that's a failure of character. Also note that even agreeing with Netanyahu on Syria isn't good enough.)

And see Max Boot in Commentary:
Ted Cruz inveighs against “these crazy neo-cons” who want to “invade-every-country-on-earth and send our kids to die in the Middle East.” Ronald Reagan proudly filled his administration with neocons like Jeane Kirkpatrick, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle. In many ways, Reagan himself was a “neocon,” having left the Democratic Party and embraced an open and idealistic form of conservatism....

Cruz’s suggestion that the U.S. back Assad is particularly egregious.... Backing Assad is not Reaganesque; it is more Obamaesque, since the current president has reached out to anti-American dictators in Moscow, Havana, and Tehran, among other places. Indeed, Obama has tacitly agreed to allow Assad to continue in power. So Cruz, by backing an alliance with Assad, is endorsing the de facto policy of the current administration.
So, yes, if Cruz wins the nomination and loses in November, the conservative opinion elite will absolutely argue that he lost because his foreign policy was insufficiently muscular, no matter how many times he may have argued that ISIS should be carpet-bombed into oblivion.

And rank-and-file voters? If Cruz is the nominee and he's defeated in November, they'll say he lost for the simple reason that he's not Trump.

Downie is certainly correct when he says that Trump, if he's nominated and then loses a general election, will be retroactively deemed a RINO by Republican voters -- but if Trump fails to win the nomination, the same voters will say he was the one true conservative, the candidate who could have won the general election, if only RINO treachery hadn't stolen the nomination from him.

Conservatism can't fail -- it can only be failed. If the GOP loses the presidential election next November, the right will say that it was because conservatism was failed. We just don't know how it was failed yet.


Victor said...

How pathetic.

As nature's real rhino's are being driven to extinction, they're being replaced with "human" RINO's.

And there will never be any shortage of those!
Lose, or win and fail - like W did - and you're a RINO for life!

Anonymous said...

This is exactly right. The farthest right wing of the GOP will never admit that they are the problem. If their chosen candidate loses, then within minutes of the loss they will be saying that he wasn't really their choice and if only the other guy had been the nominee then they would have won it.

They cannot be placated and losing isn't going to stop them. The only thing that could stop them is if there was a Republican Party machine that had enough power to step on their necks and tell them to back off. But that machine was destroyed years ago as it took blow after blow - first from Reagan, then from Gingrich, then from Citizen's United. Then Bush the Lesser shot the machine in the head by presiding over two failed wars that he didn't pay for and a nearly destroyed economy. The GOP is now a collection of self-funding interest groups fighting with each other instead of a single machine.

Feud Turgidson said...

Looks to me like James Downie is the latest WaPo proxy writer for Fred Hiatt. He's out of Foreign Policy mag and TNR, which both have a few centrist libs writing occasionally for them (e.g. Robert Farley, a UK prof who blogs on US military - "Guns" - at LGM, also has authored a lot of pieces published in Foreign Policy.), but I suspect his 'lib cred' is an illusion by vague association.

(The name bugs me: "Downie", same spelling as the former long time executive editor, Len Downie Jr., whose Wiki says he's got "four adult children".)

So what I think is going on here is a decision by Fred Hiatt to cast Cruz as approximately as conservative a Republican as Obama is a liberal Democratic. IOW the practical politics as POTUS of either one, whether already or yet remaining to be proven so, is, by virture of being, forget the rhetorical flourishes, more establishment than not, to be found somewhere in the narrow band of neocon to neolib, a.k.a. post WWII military-industrial and security state friendly, a.k.a. neocons, because the difference between the effective foreign policies of neocons and neolibs is purely illusion and branding.

To me, this is also Hiatt cementing a future presence at WaPo beyond the end to his career there (He's not as old as Len Downie, but he just this year turned 60, something I'm familiar with.), and if I'm right about James' provenance, it's felicitously being bound by blood ties.

Whether or not either comparison is apt is worthy of separate consideration, and would take too long here & now. Suffice to say, the nature of the job itself creates both some reality and some illuson of neoconservative behaviors in whoever is POTUS, but the very idea of suggesting that this preternaturally ameliorative Harvard Law cum laude grad president is roughly comparable to that conniving argumentative contrarian religiotic creep Harvard Law summa cum laude senator is something of a stretch.

Victor said...

Again, who are you, you brilliant masked person?

I'm just a lazy cheap joker, who barely knows shit from Shinola.
But you, on the other hand, my friend, know the ingredients and differences between the two.

You and Steve make a perfect pair!
Don't ever leave him/us!!!

BKT said...

Yes, very well put-- Steve, nonynony and Unknown.

Conservatism is dying the slowest of deaths and determined to take everyone else with it.