Thursday, April 07, 2016


Most liberals assume that Ted Cruz is so self-evidently unlikable that he can't possibly win a general election, even against Hillary Clinton, whose favorables aren't very high these days. What's easy to forget is that many Americans don't pay a whole lot of attention to politics, and therefore don't have well-formed opinions of Cruz. In the months to come, if he has a shot at the nomination, he can pretend to be a nice guy. And the media can help, the way Zeke Miller of Time magazine does in this interview, which accompanies Time's cover story on Cruz.

The interview is barely an interview at all -- Miller mostly expresses his amazement at Cruz's success in the race, while the candidate regurgitates his Wisconsin victory speech, which was clearly geared to the general election. Here's how the interview starts:
One of the things we’ve noticed going back to your speeches of the past few months is that you used to have this line where conservatives are coming together, and now it seems to be a lot of Republicans coming together. It seems you’d be the unlikely person for that to happen around. How do you see that happening?

Well, that was always our approach from the beginning. If you look to the speech where we announced the campaign at Liberty University, it focused on bringing Americans together behind shared values.

Behind a shared desire for jobs and economic opportunity and rising wages. Behind a passion for the Constitution and Bill of Rights and protecting the fundamental liberties of every American.

And behind the desire to keep America safe and secure, to stand with our friends and allies and to stand up against our enemies. And those are values that naturally unite us.

They cut across ideological lines, they cut across racial and ethnic lines, gender lines, socioeconomic lines and even party lines. From the beginning our objective was to reunite the old Reagan coalition to bring together Republicans and Independents and Libertarians, and Reagan Democrats. And I think we’re seeing that happening more and more.
It's all like that. It's Cruz uttering empty platitudes like this:
I’ve said many times, the biggest divide we have politically is not between Republicans and Democrats. It is between career politicians in Washington in both parties, and the American people.
And this:
What I’ve tried to do every day in the Senate, and what I intend to do as President is fight for the working men and women of this country. And not for the special interests in Washington.
And this:
I try to think of every policy from the perspective of my dad.

When he was a teenage immigrant in 1957, when he fled Cuba after being imprisoned and tortured. And he was washing dishes at 50¢ an hour. How would a particular policy have impacted my dad?

And so I’ve often observed, if my dad were still washing dishes today, the odds are quite high he would have lost his job or never been hired, because of the incredible burdens of taxes and regulations on small businesses.
Miller never points out that the top marginal tax rate in 1957 was 91%, more than twice what it is now. But Miller never challenges Cruz at all. There are no questions about Cruz's proposal to carpet-bomb ISIS strongholds even if large numbers of civilians are killed. There are no questions about Cruz's support for waterboarding. There are no questions about Cruz's support for a ban on abortion without an exception for rape or incest. There are no questions about Cruz's assertion that legalization of same-sex marriage represents a cultuiral "crisis." There are no questions about Cruz's tax plan, which would blow an $8.6 trillion hole in the federal budget and give taxpayers making more than $3.7 million a year an average tax break of $2 million.

There isn't even a question about the government shutdown Cruz engineered. Nope, all the questions are like this:
The last two and a half years in Washington you’ve been getting the question, maybe more times than you can count, “Why does everyone hate you?” Now I guess the question is, “Why does everyone like you?”
And this:
You called many of the people in Washington the cartel, locusts. You’re not building bridges to them, you’re going after their voters -- would that be the better way of describing it?
"Learning to Love Ted Cruz," Michael Scherer's cover story, is a bit more skeptical -- but it's all about how Cruz is recalibrating his focus now that he's gone from purist Senate pariah to possible presidential nominee. Scherer, for instance, doesn't say a word about carpet-bombing or torture -- instead, he describes Cruz's professed wish to find out if “sand can glow in the dark” in the Middle East as one of the "bold positions" whose "packaging has been muted" as Cruz pivots to the general election.

If Cruz really does slip into all-platitude mode for the general election, while nodding and winking to his feral base, can he beat Hillary Clinton? He's already within 3 points of Clinton. Sure he can. Watch out for this guy.


AllieG said...

If the Republicans stuffed the corpse of William McKinley and nominated him, you'd be saying "watch out for this guy." Cruz can't pivot towards the middle until he reconciles the Trump crowd, which won't want to hear that. He's not going to abandon wingnut red meat. It's all he's ever eaten.

Victor said...

Allie, while I agree with you, the MSM will try to help heal any rifts in the GOP.
They want and need a close horse race.

And to stick it to Hillary, too many in our MSM will be more than happy to don knee pads and fellate and kiss the ass of her opponent, whoever he may be.

ChrisNBama said...

Anyone the GOP nominates (excepting Trump), can beat Hillary. She's a weak candidate.

Rand Careaga said...

Anyone the GOP nominates (excepting Trump), can beat Hillary.

Sanders would, I think, prove conspicuously weaker. But sure, anyone the GOP nominates—I do not exclude Trump—can conceivably beat Clinton given a (far) right alignment of the stars. Still, I think it unlikely. First, it's difficult from here how Trump graciously yields up the prize in Cleveland if, as still seems likely, he arrives there with conspicuously the largest share of delegates. "Them's the rules" seems unlikely to mollify him if a bunch of Trump delegates prove to be Cruz ringers who desert the short-fingered vulgarian beginning with the second ballot. Nor are The Donald's supporters among the Teeming Millions likely to be accommodating in this event. Cruz will emerge from the convention far more damaged than Ford did in 1976. Sure, some of the Trumpenproletariat will eventually fall in line, particularly if the thwarted tycoon retires to sulk in silence rather than braying his sense of betrayal from the battlements from July until November (bets, anyone?), but I anticipate that they will do so with diminished partisan ardor. Add to this the loathsome personal qualities of the junior senator from Texas—the inimitable Cruz Backpfeifengesicht, that special quality that causes even many of his own party to despise the mere sight of him—and I think that Tailgunner Ted will have a tough row to hoe. Remember that it's a little easier for a sycophantic reporter to make Cruz seem reasonable in print, but the campaign will be waged largely on television, a medium on which the man's personal charm, if he has any, does not appear readily to translate, although his innate nastiness comes through unfiltered.

If, as I'm coming to believe, a consensus has emerged among the party panjandrums that Trump must not be the nominee if he enters the Quicken Loans Arena even half a dozen votes short of the magic number, then I think among their bleak choices the smartest might be to anoint Paul “Eddie Munster” Ryan as the party’s savior and white(!) knight to take the field against Morgan le Fay this fall. Accept the rage of the Trumpistas as a "sunk cost," prepare to lose to the Hillabeast, but contain the collateral damage downticket so that the GOP can live to make the country ungovernable for the next four years.

jsrtheta said...

Erm, no. Just no. A 3 point spread in a meaningless poll is probative of nothing. Five minutes of Hillary simply speaking in a debate, demonstrating the batshit craziness of this loathsome toad, and it's over. And that's only if the RNC doesn't do the honorable thing before then, the thing even they know is necessary, and that is to take this guy's head off. Seriously. For all their hatred of her, their personal antipathy toward Cruz is even keener.

So, no. There's already enough to worry about without inventing things. Like Bernie v. Cruz. That's what keeps me up at night.

Ten Bears said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Feud Turgidson said...

So what? Just to GET to HRC, he's gotta go thru me. Okay, you say: no one's watching an online avatar with a silly name take on Cruz. FINE! If I can be surrogate for HRC, someone else cam be surrogate for me. I'd nominate Rachel Maddow because she'd wipe the floor with that whacko, or Colbert, cuz then Cruz would be reduced like a picked over 2-day chicken in a stew pot. But you say, their in the 'neutrality biz"? I don't GAF - I want him beaten to pulp. But alright, alright - I'll play by the rules. I pick Tituss Burgess, for an hour, on mortality, humanity, equality, LGBT rights, ethnicity, and immigration. If Cruz is even still BREATHING by the end, I'll be shocked.

I give zero f**ks for Cruz so-called 'debate' skills. I and up to 70 million others will be up there on the dias on HILLARY's side, so FU you creepy Cubano Canadian Jesus-fondling crazy person!

The New York Crank said...

Fortunately, not too many people read Time any more. The mag always had a Republican bias, going back to its Henry Luce beginnings, but at least it offered relative depth compared to today, even as backwards reeled its sentences. (If you're not old enough to remember Henry Luce, just take my word for it that Time deliberately employed some weirdly entertaining sentence constructions.)

Even taking Time's right wing bias into account, Scherer is clearly an idiot, lacking either the preparation, the smarts or perhaps the integrity to follow up on some of Cruz's ridiculous statements. As the publication shrivels, they can no longer afford to employ competent journalists, I suppose. Too bad.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

Rand Careaga said...

The saying in the fifties was "If you've got nothing to do with your hands, you smoke a cigarette. Got nothing to do with your mind, you read Time magazine."

That said, even today, Time is the fucking New York Review of Books compared to Newsweek after Tina Brown got hold of it. I used to subscribe. Beginning with the cover story "Diana at Fifty" and through the end of my subscription term every issue went unread from the mailbox to the recycle bin.