The case reveals something interesting about Cruz’s character. Ted Cruz is now running strongly among evangelical voters, especially in Iowa. But in his career and public presentation Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace. Cruz’s behavior in the Haley case is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy.
Traditionally, candidates who have attracted strong evangelical support have in part emphasized the need to lend a helping hand to the economically stressed and the least fortunate among us. Such candidates include George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.
But Cruz’s speeches are marked by what you might call pagan brutalism. There is not a hint of compassion, gentleness and mercy. Instead, his speeches are marked by a long list of enemies, and vows to crush, shred, destroy, bomb them. When he is speaking in a church the contrast between the setting and the emotional tone he sets is jarring.
Cruz lays down an atmosphere of apocalyptic fear. America is heading off “the cliff to oblivion.” After one Democratic debate he said, “We’re seeing our freedoms taken away every day, and last night was an audition for who would wear the jackboot most vigorously.”
David Brooks long ago learned how to please his editorial masters at the Times. He knows he is there to give the paper an appearance of objectivity, and to make sure that it is just an appearance. The company line must be toed and Brooks makes sure his tootsies never wander far from it. These days, the company line on the left and in the squishy Republican moderate middle is all about tearing down the surging Ted Cruz.
Brooks doesn’t really object to Ted Cruz’s rhetoric because it doesn’t strike the right tone for a Christian. Coastal media bubble types are more offended by the mere fact that anyone is Christian at all. Brooks is upset that Cruz’s rhetoric is resonating. He even offers a soft defense of the Obama years to discredit the notion that people should be concerned:
The fact is this apocalyptic diagnosis is ridiculous. The Obama administration has done things people like me strongly disagree with. But America is in better economic shape than any other major nation on earth. Crime is down. Abortion rates are down. Fourteen million new jobs have been created in five years.
Obama has championed a liberal agenda, but he hasn’t made the country unrecognizable. In 2008, federal spending accounted for about 20.3 percent of gross domestic product. In 2015, it accounted for about 20.9 percent.
It’s true, for politicians, lobbyists, and media people living in Washington, things haven’t changed enough to make them skittish.
Here in America, however, we’re not all satisfied with where the country is after seven years of Hope and Change, and we’re even more concerned with the direction in which it is heading.
The latter is what makes Cruz more popular every day. American conservatives aren’t comforted by the fact that Barack Obama took a tanking economy and turned it into a sputtering one, or by smoke and mirrors jobs numbers.
We’re worried that Obamacare is already crippling middle class families and it is only going to get worse. We’re worried about what Iran will do with the deal it’s already treating with contempt. Add illegal immigration, ISIS, an almost unchecked EPA, and the IRS acting as political hit men and yeah, we’re all out of rose colored glasses over here, David.
Keeping that in mind, it’s understandable that we don’t have any problem with this:
But Cruz manufactures an atmosphere of menace in which there is no room for compassion, for moderation, for anything but dismantling and counterattack. And that is what he offers. Cruz’s programmatic agenda, to the extent that it exists in his speeches, is to destroy things: destroy the I.R.S., crush the “jackals” of the E.P.A., end funding for Planned Parenthood, reverse Obama’s executive orders, make the desert glow in Syria, destroy the Iran nuclear accord.
Some of these positions I agree with, but the lack of any positive emphasis, any hint of reform conservatism, any aid for the working class, or even any humane gesture toward cooperation is striking.
That last paragraph is the kind of Brooksian proclamation that his fans latch onto and repeat in an effort to come across as erudite free thinkers who know what’s best for the conservative Republican hoi polloi.
It is also more devoid of substance than cotton candy without food coloring.
If Ted Cruz is a bad Christian because he won’t put “any positive emphasis” on the baby butchering of Planned Parenthood then I’ve really, really missed something in my understanding of my faith.
Reform conservatism is something that can’t even be discussed in a climate that defaults to the presupposition that the government is benevolent.
To whom exactly is this “humane gesture toward cooperation” supposed to be made? Iran? ISIS? The Senate minority leader who has used most of his floor time and air time the last several years demonizing Republicans?
America is in a precarious position. Ted Cruz and many of the Republican candidates are speaking to the people who understand that for different reasons. Let the Democrats remain the party of feel-good emotional pandering. The Republicans need to nominate an adult and sometimes adults have to say things that make the fragile kiddies cry. Cruz is serious about cleaning up the messes David Brooks and the rest of the media bubble people don’t seem to see.