By now, many readers of this site have probably seen and read the stories about [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]’s flirtation with immigration reform back in 2013. If not, in a nutshell it comes down to this: When the Gang of Eight was putting together their immigration reform bill, Sen. Cruz offered an amendment that would have taken out the path to citizenship from the bill but still would have allowed illegals to stay in the country legally. Numerous sites and newspeople have covered it, including The Blaze here, and Hot Air here. Both stories include an interview Fox’s Bret Baier did with Sen. Cruz on last night’s Special Report.
Hot Air’s Allapundit speculates that Sen. Cruz introduced the amendment as a double-pronged pandering strategy. By claiming that the amendment was a “poison pill” designed to bring the bill down, Sen. Cruz panders to immigration reform opponents in the base of the party. By being murky on whether the amendment was a sincere effort to improve an immigration reform bill, he panders to the general electorate should he become the nominee.
As to his poison pill argument, our own Erick Erickson doesn’t buy that, as he noted yesterday in his piece on both Sens. Rubio and Cruz’s fundamental flaws. Other conservative writers also take issue with Sen. Cruz’s explanations about what he really intended with his amendment and what he said at the time. Watch the Fox interview (in the links above) and judge for yourself. Sen. Cruz, usually extremely articulate, stammers quite a bit as he tries to get his tongue around just the right combinations of words. That kind of rhetorical struggle can indicate he’s trying to give himself an out should he need to revisit this issue later in the campaign.
Whatever his intentions with his amendment in 2013, Sen. Cruz is still viewed by most conservative writers I’ve followed as a much stronger voice than [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] on immigration. Nonetheless, Sen. Cruz’s tap dance about whether he does or doesn’t support a pathway to illegals illustrates why folks like me have a problem with him. It’s not the issue itself — I’m undecided on what should happen with illegal immigration and how to solve the problem of so many illegals who are already here. It’s Sen. Cruz’s criticism of a fellow Republican on an issue where he himself is not pure as snow.
Yes, I know all politicians hedge about controversial issues. I know that conservative pols in particular veer to the right in the primary and back to the middle in the general election. But Sen. Cruz’s appeal seems to be based on his pure conservative principles. His stance on the immigration bill amendment seems not very principled at all.
Just as with Sen. Cruz’s refusal to go after Donald Trump (while having no trouble attacking his other Republican opponents), I find this aspect of his personality distasteful.
Libby Sternberg is an Edgar-nominated novelist.