Is it possible that Ted Cruz actually believes in conservative principles?

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Anytime the conversation of a conservative, espousing conservative values, comes up, as it has following Senator Ted Cruz’s (Republican, Texas) twenty-one hour speech, liberal writers, and talking heads, attempt to come up with the real reason behind that person’s actions and words.  If the conservative is a commentator, the liberals say that it’s all about the money, it’s entertainment, or he’s simply looking for some sort of Svengali-like power over the rubes in his audience.  If it’s a politician, as in the case of Cruz, they say that he has some kind of egotistical aspirations, because no one with even half a brain, could actually believe in this stuff.David Letterman once attempted to get to the bottom of it, and after failing he said: “I just can’t believe that these seemingly intelligent individuals can actually believe what they say they believe.  Is it money?  Power?”  It has to be some kind of shtick, he basically said, some kind of carnival act, or ruse that they’re playing on the rubes in flyover country to get some money out of them. “I’ve tried to understand it,” Letterman said throwing his hands in the air, “and I just don’t get it.”

Letterman isn’t alone, especially when the person in question, Ted Cruz, has a Princeton education, and a Harvard Law education.  Liberals in the media, and elsewhere, are all asking the question, “Does Ted Cruz actually believe the same things as the rubes in Alabama, Utah, and Nebraska, believe?

I’m sure that many of the more seasoned Senators have tried to set this freshman Senator from Texas straight.  I’m sure they’ve tried to stifle their laughter when they’ve said, “What you do is say this Rush Limbaugh (stuff) on the campaign trail, and when you’re being interviewed on Sean Hannity, but now that you’re in office, you don’t have to pretend anymore.  If you do, what will you say when you’re trying to get the rube vote in your next election?”

I’m sure that these seasoned Senators have tried to teach Cruz the real way things are done in Washington, and they’ve tried to tell him that if you’re nice to Harry Reid (Democrat, Nevada) and Chuck Schumer (Democrat, New York), and you don’t whimper, they’ll throw you some legislative, table scraps every once in a while.  I’m sure they’ve also tried to tell Cruz that he can also “Rubio” himself to the national stage by gaining favor with Chuck Schumer to the point that the number two in the Senate smiles at you on camera, but, I’m sure they’ve warned Cruz, based on personal experience, that you do not want to look Schumer, Harry Reid, or Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) in the eyes.  They don’t like that.  They think that you’re trying to be their equal when you do that.  I’m sure they’ve provided Cruz the map to success in the Senate, and I’m sure that map includes saying some Rush Limbaugh (stuff) on the campaign trail, and in Sean Hannity interviews, but not in their hallowed halls of the Senate.  Cruz, much to their now public consternation, refuses to listen to them.

Is he so obsessed with himself that he’s willing to placate the rubes with this Constitutional conservative drivel to make a name for himself?  Has he studied the conservative platform so well that he is able to provide a caricature of it on the Senate floor?  When this Ivy League, educated man espouses such drivel, is doing it because he is afraid of Rush Limbaugh, or is he trying to outdo the Rand Paul’s (Republican Kentucky) filibuster?  The current question in Washington, as Leigh Ann Caldwell, from CNN, puts it, is: “What’s Ted Cruz’s Deal?” {1}

Cruz is,” writes The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, “an opportunist driven more by ambition than ideology.”

CNN political analyst Gloria Borger said Cruz’s Republican detractors think Cruz is putting his political career above all else.

New York Republican representative, Peter King, called Cruz “A fraud.”

Even Republicans are confused by Cruz’s decisions to go “all conservative” on them. Senator Ron Johnson (Republican of Wisconsin), called Cruz’s actions unrealistic, and Senator Bob Corker (Republican, Tennessee) has said that Cruz’s actions, in attempting to defund Obamacare, are not constructive, and Senator John McCain has claimed that he hates Cruz’s guts.

I find it amusing that those in Washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do,” Cruz told CNN in February.  “At the end of the day, I was elected to represent 26 million Texans and to speak the truth.  You know, I think a lot of Americans are tired of politicians in Washington in both parties who play games.”

The question is was Cruz’s twenty-one hour speech an issue-specific attempt to defund Obamacare, and thus shut down the government, or was Cruz initiating a long game that brought the conservative perspective back into the conversation, and thus provoke a re-examination of Obamacare?

If, however, Cruz’s intentions were to bluff Reid, Obama, and the Democrats in Washington, to see what he could gain for Republicans in their negotiations, his fellow Republicans were quick to thwart his effort by rushing to whatever mike the media would offer them to show everyone what their cards were, before the negotiations even began.

Gloria Borger, in her CNN column, states that the speech was all about Ted Cruz’s getting people to look at, and talk about, Ted Cruz.  She calls the following portion of his speech “oh-so-predictable” and a “sound bite extraordinaire”.  She quotes Cruz: “This is a fight to restore freedom to the people.”  She then furthers her castigation by saying that Cruz is “clearly not inhibited by any lack of self-importance.”  The Cruz quote continues:“This is a fight to get the Washington establishment, the empire, to listen to the people.” {2} The theme of the snarky comments, and adjectives, that Borger makes throughout this piece is that Cruz needs to learn his place, and that he’s an egoist that doesn’t play well with friends.

The question that Rush Limbaugh has asked in regards to the the media’s reaction to Cruz’s speech, that could be directly attributed to Borger’s snarky comments, is:

If he’s so ineffective, and so destructive to the Republican party, why wouldn’t they encourage it?”

The old line, in Washington, is if a politician is committing political suicide, give them room, and allow them enough room to accomplish it without interference.  If Borger, and her acolytes in the media, don’t know that specific line, then, surely, they know the mindset.  So, why don’t Borger, and her acolytes in the media, simply step back and allow Cruz to burn the land, so that liberal policies will grow from it?  Is it because they fear, or they know, that Cruz is not only effective, but giving rise to what Matt Kibbe calls a decentralized community?

Every Senator thinks that they’re the center of the universe, and now it is literally the case that a very decentralized community has a lot more say,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks. “We now have a seat at the table,” Mr. Kibbe added, taking stock of Cruz’s detractors in the Senate. “Voters,” he said, “can choose their leaders based on who’s performing, and that very competitive, bottom-up atmosphere is really what they’re complaining about.  They’re like the dinosaurs seeing the first icebergs floating by.”

The crux of Kibbe’s comments is that all of the dinosaurs (tenured Republican Senators) have had a collusive method of doing nothing for so long that no one Senator could be called out for doing nothing.  When one of these Senators from the bottom (i.e. a freshman Senator), steps up and performs, Republican voters can better base their decision on who to vote for, based on performance. And that, Kibbe says, is the gist of what they’re complaining about.

I think what Senator Cruz understands is that he has more to gain from adhering to his principles, staying in touch with the grass roots here and around the country than he does being friends with other senators,” Brendan Steinhauser, a leading Texas tea party activist who worked to get Cruz elected, said.

As Nick Gillespie writes for the Daily Beast:

Commentators who think these guys—including Rand Paul, and presumably, Mike Lee (Republican, Utah)—are in politics only for themselves are missing the energy that’s driving them.  Maybe, just maybe, they really do believe in shrinking the size, scope, and spending of the federal government.  And maybe they realize that their vehicle of choice, the Republican Party, really does need to reach out to new swaths of the electorate while holding on to conservatives.”{3}

The consternation that the media is exhibiting towards Ted Cruz may also have something to do with the respect that Republicans have generally shown elections for the past generation.  When a Democrat wins a presidential election, most Republicans, like Senator McCain, have gone out of their way to say that elections mean things, and that the only way for Republicans to ever hope to have any say in Washington, is to win elections.  This has led many Republican voters to believe that McCain’s minority mindset has caused him to be more comfortable when begging for scraps from the dinner table.  This is the way things are done in Washington, McCain usually responds, and you have to respect the will of the people, and their election choices.  Yet, when Republicans win elections, Democrats usually find some way to nullify that election, and immediately move to remove any idea that that Republican president might have about the people giving him a mandate.  And McCain, usually joins them, fearing that anyone might accuse him of being heavy handed with the minority.

The freshman Senator, Ted Cruz, has not shown the same genteel respect for elections, the president that won that election, or the “way things are done in Washington”.  Cruz has carved out his niche as a freshman Senator and spoken out against the will of the president in the manner former Senator Tom Daschle (Democrat, South Dakota), Schumer, Reid, and Durbin have with so many Republican presidents.  Cruz is not following the standard method of operation for Republicans in Washington, and this has members of the Senate, on both sides of the aisle apoplectic.

Another aspect that has Republicans up in arms, and openly reviling Ted Cruz, is his open display of conservatism.  They don’t understand why a sitting Senator, nearly six years away from any worries about re-election, and three years away from a presidential election– if that’s his ambition–would display conservative values.  It makes no sense to them that he should be engaging in the “rube rhetoric” that is “oh-so-predictable” with “sound bite extraordinaire” words.  These Constitutional, conservative, Rush Limbaugh-style, Jedi mind tricks should be reserved for the campaign trail, and if you use them up now, what empty rhetoric will you use to con the rubes on the campaign trail?  Who is this guy?  What is his deal?  Doesn’t he know that the job description doesn’t involve actually promoting limited government principles?  Doesn’t he know that that’s no way to act if he hopes to get along with the powers that be in Washington, or invited to any of their parties in Washington?  Doesn’t he know that if he wants to be considered a rock star by his constituency that he has to give them goodies?  Doesn’t he know that growing the federal government actually increases his power over them?  Doesn’t he know that he’s ruining the party for everyone else?





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