What's the Matter with Ted Cruz?

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Am I missing something about Ted Cruz? The Texas senator seems to me to be the one true conservative left in the presidential race, and the most true conservative who was ever in it. Graduated cum laude from Princeton, magna cum laude from Harvard. “Off the charts brilliant,” said his liberal professor Alan Dershowitz. The first Hispanic solicitor general of Texas. Authored more than 80 Supreme Court briefs and made more than 40 oral SCOTUS arguments. Won important victories on gun rights, the Pledge of Allegiance, the right to display the Ten Commandments. Sponsored close to a hundred bills during his time in the Senate.


I mean, all right, the guy is no oil painting and even I, who love the Lord heart, soul and strength, wish he would cool the public piety a little. But really, points off for style and all that, but on substance, is there anything not to like about the guy?

I’ve listened to all the attacks on Cruz and they worry me. But whenever I do objective, honest research, it seems like there’s nothing there.

They say he has no friends in the Senate. Well, guess what? He wasn’t elected to have friends. He was elected by people who were sick of the Senate and he was loyal to those people instead of to the collegial cowardice that has brought the Republican Party to the brink of well-deserved extinction.

They say he engineered a “disastrous” government shutdown in 2013 in a useless attempt to stop funding for Obamacare. But in the midterm election that followed hard on that “disaster,” Republicans won an historic victory — very possibly because voters were encouraged by the sight of a Republican with a full set of testicles instead of an entire roomful passing one among them like the Grey Sisters with their eye.

All this stuff about poor little Ben Carson in Iowa — nonsense. An honest mistake at best; hardball politics at worst. And now they’re claiming Cruz slept around. Sounds like total garbage to me, and if it’s not, shame on him, but with a field that includes Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, if we vote on the basis of sexual probity, we’ll wind up with Bernie Sanders in the White House!


So really, am I missing something? I want to know. Because I keep hearing people linking Cruz’s name with Trump’s — who is a reptile. I expect this sort of nonsense from leftists and other sneering blithermeisters like Bill Maher and David Brooks. I expect it from Trump himself with his casual bullying references to “Lyin’ Ted.”

But what about Ross Douthat, the only columnist at the New York Times worthy of respect? He recently wrote this piece called “Who Is Ted Cruz?” It begins with a big windup:

On the surface, Cruz is a straightforward figure: The ideological zealot, the politician-as-activist, the unbending embodiment of True Conservatism. He’s the scourge of Obamacare, the bane of the G.O.P. establishment, the evangelical moralist with a flat-tax plan and a Reagan quote for every occasion. If Trump has dynamited Republican orthodoxy and tapped out nasty tweets from the rubble, Cruz has kept pace by promising to rebuild that same orthodoxy stronger than before.

That sounds like the start of a real revelatory expose, like he’s truly going to take the man apart. But go on, hit the link and read it. The rest is all insult and sour opinion. I respect Douthat, I do, but there’s nothing substantial there. So… what am I missing?

Believe me, I see the electoral difficulties. I don’t know if Cruz can win against the Democrat. But in an election season of one surprise after another, with more surprises surely waiting just offstage, is there anyone who would dare to say he can’t win, that it isn’t possible? If Trump finally makes his supporters sick of themselves? If Hillary gets nailed by the FBI? If Cruz learns to sell his message with a touch of warmth and keeps his Jesus in his pocket more?


Maybe that’s too many miracles to ask, but I’ll say this. I think if it should shake out like that, if Cruz, by some God-directed turn of events, should win the nomination and then the general — I don’t think he would make a good president. I think he would make a great president.

For more of my commentary, listen to my podcast Monday through Thursday.



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