The improbability of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the most visible and vocal advocate of the far right, becoming a national figure and presidential candidate sounds like something out of a Stanley Kubrick film.
But this profile of him by Rich Yeselsen makes you want to think twice before dismissing him.
Cruz is arguably the most compelling conservative political activist/intellectual since William F. Buckley in his heyday at the National Review and on the public affairs show “Firing Line.” Cruz’s intellectual pedigree is both deeply meritocratic and deeply ideological. He was a star student at every level. His father, Rafael, the Cuban émigré who grew to despise the Fidelistas he once fought with, urged Cruz to steep himself in the canon of Western conservative thought. Cruz went onto Princeton, and his mentor was perhaps the leading conservative intellectual in academia, Robert George. He then attended Harvard Law School where, like Barack Obama, he served on the law review. Like Buckley and Obama, Cruz has a silver tongue, as anybody who has listened to him on the floor of the Senate can attest. The fact that he was a champion debater at Princeton, and later, as Texas solicitor general and in private practice, a very skilled appellate lawyer who has argued eight cases before the Supreme Court, merely ratifies a legitimately earned expertise.
So Cruz has a great delivery system — he’s got the perfect rhetorical combination of having a coherent worldview that he can transpose for voters into demotic, accessible language. One can see that even when he’s casually accusing Chuck Hagel of giving aid and comfort to the North Koreans — part of the reason he outrages his colleagues is that he already commands the Senate floor and the media.
Unlike the other tough Texan, Rick Perry, and the other Sun Belt Cuban-American, Marco Rubio, Cruz is carefully obstructionist about comprehensive immigration reform, supporting a “path to legalization,” as opposed to citizenship — an inadequate, sure-to-be-rejected “skim milk” analogue to what civil unions are compared to same-sex marriage. For tea party types, immigration ties together fear of the ethnic other and anxiety about crime and economic parasitism. Cruz intuitively understands this. By contrast, Perry’s presidential chances faltered when, during the 2012 debates, he supported a DREAM Act lite for children of illegal immigrants in Texas. Rubio apparently bought the argument of party elites that comprehensive immigration reform was an essential political concession to demographic destiny. But now, looking for the lost white vote is the grand goal for Republican thinkers that Latino outreach was six months ago, and Rubio can’t feel so good about his position.
So it’s best to think of Cruz as the perfect expression of what Perry and Rubio were mere beta versions: the exemplification, brilliantly articulated, of the fringe pathologies trapped in the body of a major party that is today’s GOP. Cruz is the real deal. He is deeply grounded in his worldview, and skilled in his presentation of it. He’s the man that rightwing activists must wish had started his national political career just a few years earlier: Is there any doubt that Ted Cruz would have been a more daunting challenger for Mitt Romney than the charlatans and bozos Romney defeated for the 2012 nomination?
It doesn’t take much imagination to envision a titanic faceoff in 2016 between Cruz and the round mound of Trenton town, Chris Christie, his only peer in sheer political talent and chutzpah among the other GOP presidential contenders. If so, following the withdrawal of the failed contenders, Cruz could lead a unified crusade of the Republican’s revanchist base against the latest in a long line of Northeastern poseurs, squishes, and RINOs.
We all laughed when Ronald Reagan ran for president.
HT to digby.