Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

The Anti-Ted Cruz Bandwagon

Politicians per force have big egos. They need big ones to withstand the constant poking and jabbing of democracy and still keeping smiling for the camera.

Politicians, even ones who keep getting re-elected, aren’t always popular. Try as they might, they are forced from time to time to say stuff that offends somebody. Before long, they have offended just about everyone.

Ted CruzIn this context, Ted Cruz is an outlier. He has a galactic ego, matched only by the mammoth disregard his current colleagues and a former college roommate have for him.

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni has written a piece titled “Anyone But Ted Cruz,” in which he chronicles the Texas senator’s megalomania.

“He’s the antithesis of  team player,” writes Bruni. “His thirst for the spotlight is unquenchable. His arrogance is unalloyed. He actually takes pride in being abrasive, as if a person’s tally of detractors measures his fearlessness, not his obnoxiousness.”

Bruni asks if anyone would hire an applicant with traits like that. Then he notes Cruz is surging in polls among GOP presidential contenders.

A quick check of references might help. Bruni obliges:

Craig Mazin, Cruz’ freshman roommate at Princeton, told a reporter, “I would rather have anybody else be the President of the United States. Anyone. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book.”

Okay, that’s college. We’ve all had disagreeable roommates.

How about when Cruz worked on the George W. Bush campaign in 2000? Matthew Dowd, a political strategist who worked on the Bush team, said you could draw an inference for Cruz’s failure to land a plum political post after W won the presidency.

“If truth serum was given to the staff of the 2000 Bush campaign,” Dowd says, most would rather vote for Donald Trump than Cruz.

Surely Cruz’ congressional counterparts show him some love. Such as when asked at a fundraiser about Cruz, former House Speaker John Boehner flipped up a finger. Yes, that finger.

Improving poll numbers by Cruz have sparked a movement in the Senate GOP cloakroom to endorse Marco Rubio. From muttered comments, you get the feeling they would endorse anybody but Cruz if it came to that.

What can you expect when you call your own Senate Majority Leader a “liar?”

Cruz also may be a little thin in the accomplishments section of his resume. He has railed unfruitfully against Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and Chuck Hagel, but so far only managed to threaten a shutdown of the federal government for a few days. An interesting achievement for someone who wants to become the Supreme Leader of the federal government.

Bruni, who concludes Cruz would be an “insufferable, unendurable President” because of his “combative style and consuming solipsism,” overlooks the source of Cruz’ appeal – his ability to suck up. This is not a skill to sneeze at.

First, Cruz sucked up to the Tea Party, channeling its rage into a Senate seat and, later, serial front-page headlines.

Ted-Cruz-with-shotgunNow, Cruz is sucking up to Christian evangelicals, a cohort which he believes is a large enough part of the GOP primary constituency, especially in the Deep South, to earn him the presidential nomination. A good example of a suck-up sound bite is referring to the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter as a “transgender, leftist activist,” rather than a deranged man incited to violence by overheated anti-abortion rhetoric and a misleading video.

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 27: Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to the media after the Senate voted to pass the continuing resolution. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The triumphal Cruz suck-up may be to the man ahead of him in the polls – Donald Trump. The Harvard Law School graduate carefully avoids any direct criticism of The Donald, perhaps in hopes of scooping up his bag of supporters when Trump’s insults wear thin and his candidacy flames out.

It seems Cruz is trying to corner the market on conservative crazies, the people who are angry, fed up and willing to support almost anyone – possibly even Cruz.

As Bruni notes, no one ever said Cruz is stupid. Just scary. And, apparently to those who know him, loathsome.


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