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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cruz is too earnest

Hmm. Ross Douthat of the New York Times is not enamored of Ted Cruz. Guess he has had enough of 45-year-old freshmen senators thinking they can be president.

A few gems from Douthat's column, "Who Is Ted Cruz?"
With Cruz, though, even the most fervent peroration always feels like a debater’s patter, an advocate’s brief — compelling enough on the merits, but more of a command performance than a window into deep conviction.
This doesn’t mean that Cruz’s conservatism isn’t sincere. But the fact that he seems so much like an actor hitting his marks fits with the story of how he became Mr. True Conservative Outsider in the first place. Basically, he spent years trying to make it in Washington on the insider’s track, and hit a wall because too many of the insiders didn't like him — because his ambition was too naked, his climber’s zeal too palpable. So he deliberately switched factions, turning the establishment’s personal disdain into a political asset, and taking his Ivy League talents to the Tea Party instead.
Remember my piece the other day, "Cruz: The Establishment's Anti-Establishment Candidate"?

I did not make that connection to his failing the audition. I pointed out his spending 15 of his 20 post-law school years in Washington, sure. Heck, wife is Goldman Sachs, right? But I did not understand that he failed to gain favor for the same reason 70 percent of Republicans have rejected him in this three-way race. He polls 30 percent. The Donald polls 43. The young man is too earnest.

Douthat sees Cruz as a weather vane conservative, going with what seems most popular among conservatives is just as deadly as weather-vaning other groups. Many conservatives followed Sarah Palin in calling for the bombing of Libya in 2011. Now everyone blames Clinton.

Then there is this from Douthat:
The same pattern has prevailed in the presidential campaign, in his complicated relationship to Trump — obsequious at first, cynically imitative on issues where Trump’s demagogy has worked, and finally self-righteous and dudgeon-filled now that the name-calling and scandal-mongering have been turned against his reputation and his family.
Throughout this rise, Cruz has often seemed less like Goldwater than like American conservatism’s own Kenneth Widmerpool, the most memorable character in the English novelist Anthony Powell’s series, “A Dance to the Music of Time.”
A dogged, charmless, unembarrassed striver, Widmerpool begins Powell’s novels as a figure of mockery for his upper-class schoolmates. But over the course of the books he ascends past them — to power, influence, a peerage — through a mix of ruthless effort, ideological flexibility, and calculated kissing-up.
Enduring all manner of humiliations, bouncing back from every setback, tacking right and left with the times, he embodies the triumph of raw ambition over aristocratic rules of order. “Widmerpool,” the narrator realizes at last, sounding like a baffled, Cruz-hating Republican senator today, “once so derided by all of us, had in some mysterious manner become a person of authority.”
I hate to annoy people with reality, but what has Cruz accomplished in his life? Did he help revive Manhattan? Did he help rescue Atlantic City? Did he increase the family fortune 100-fold?

I know why Trump is running. He thinks he can save the country. And I think I know why Cruz is running, because he needs the job.


  1. Years ago I learned a few things about public speaking. The less you are behind the lectern and walking about the stage, addressing one person in the audience and then another, the more they engage with you. It also demonstrates your knowledge because you aren't reading a list; being without a prop or a crutch gives you credibility.
    Your credibility is enhanced when someone asks you a question and you answer "I don't know" when you actually do not know.
    You are confident enough in what you are saying that you can admit to an area of ignorance (but always offer to find that answer).
    What style you use - a professor describing various protozoans, a lawyer pushing for a fine distinction between a precedential case and the current case on appeal, a Damon Runyon character trying to get Nicely-Nicely to bet on a horse - there are different ways to sell. And politics has always been a sell game.

    - Mikey NTH

  2. Part of my career I was a technical instructor. It amazed me how many of my fellow instructors were afraid to say, "I don't know" and tried to BS their way through the answer to a question. When you are teaching intelligent technical students they can smell the BS and they become like sharks who smell blood in the water. When my fellow instructors would talk about students who were real buttheads it was usually because they were caught trying to fake it and the students took them to task for it.

    1. And judges at the state court of appeals are pretty sharp, so if you do not know just say it.

      I actually had the state solicitor general tell me that I knew everything but that one question and admitted my ignorance. I wasn't stupid, I was not ill-prepared, it was that one question and I did not try to snow anyone, so my credibility was kept. In one case I had the opposing council say that I had been forthcoming with discovery requests, getting those in on time and a few early. (Unlike some US attorneys.)

      That sort of reputation of honest, correct, honorable behavior with opponents weighs a lot with the courts you deal with. And a reputation of promptness also weighs in with them and their clerks.

      Perhaps my experience is different, but there it is.

      - Mikey NTH

  3. I don't care for any of the candidates, so why not a general drafted in the convention such as Mattis or Keane. Eisenhower worked out pretty well.

    1. Eisenhower was a Theater commander who fought a campaign in which he commanded 91 divisions from a dozen countries.

      Haven't had anybody similar (the last was Grant, who was a lousy President) since.

      Not every general is up to the job. Look how many post-Civil war officers tried.

    2. Hayes did well as did a private in the unit he commanded.

  4. My sentiments, exactly. the guy is one big act.

    If the infidelity story is in any way, shape, or form true (and it's looking like it is), the irony will be the act will have brought him down.

    PS You see the foaming at the mouth nature of some of hisa acolytes and you wonder if there isn't more than a touch of that Clinton-Obama sociopathy.

  5. What is the appropriate level of ambition? It may depend on the individual. Cruz may be a perfectly good Senator for decades to come. May end up as governor of Texas, or a supreme court justice. He might have even made a decent president. But not this time. If he really loved his country he would drop out and tell folks to unite behind Trump. That would change everyone's perception of him.

  6. One other point.

    If Douthat really believes that, if the RNC can freeze out Trump, then they'll hand the nomination to Cruz, I want whatever it is he's smoking.

  7. "And this is law, I will maintain, until my dying day, sir/That whatsoe'er king may reign, I will be Vicar of Bray, sir."

  8. This was an interesting article about Cruz:

  9. Cruz is too earnest?

    Hey, Vern! We got an identity thief running for President!

  10. I have no confidence in the NYT.