Let me say up front that I don’t agree with everything [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] does and I don’t think that Cruz is beyond criticism. Everyone is capable of making mistakes and that applies a fortiori to politicians. I haven’t even formed a firm position yet on whether his parliamentary maneuver this weekend was advisable or whether it was (as leadership now claims) to blame for the confirmation of many of Obama’s judicial appointments. I don’t want him to run in 2016 and if he does he will behind almost literally all the governors on my personal ballot.
That having been said, the execrable public smear campaign being mounted by leadership and their blogging lackeys against him is hilarious in its completely unjustified condescension. Examples of this may be found here and here if you are interested. These attacks are notable not for what they are saying but because of the obvious attempt to not only criticize Cruz on substantive grounds but to remove him and his viewpoint from the discussion by treating him as an object of contempt and ridicule. In exactly the same way that liberals initially attacked Sarah Palin, he is simultaneously attacked as being a) an ignorant buffoon who does not know what he is doing and b) an evil mastermind who is guilty of calculated manipulation of the unwashed masses. These are textbook Alinsky tactics and it’s depressing to see conservatives use them so blindly.
I encourage healthy debate about Cruz’s tactics and criticism where it is warranted. But whatever you want to say about Cruz, it should not be up for debate that he is a serious person who is extremely well qualified and has accomplished more than literally any of the people who are criticizing him from their lofty perches as bloggers. Becoming Solicitor General of a state as large as Texas is more than any of them will accomplish, much less getting elected statewide against a well funded establishment candidate. By both education and work experience, Cruz understands more about the legislative process than, well, almost anyone. And if you’re wondering whether this means you, well: if you blog for a living, the answer is “yes.”
Look obviously, I think blogging is a worthwhile endeavor or I would not have done it so religiously for the last decade, and I am not trying to belittle anyone who does it. That having been said, a healthy dose of humility would be in order so that tweets like this don’t have to happen, to the embarrassment of all concerned:
What Lee-Cruz did was a huge strategic blunder–possibly the result of base-pandering, not knowing senate procedure — or both.
— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) December 13, 2014
I read a lot about baseball on the Internet but I don’t presume to say that Clayton Kershaw doesn’t know how to throw fastballs. And just because a given person who writes on the Internet for a living is working from set of talking points from leadership does not make them more of an expert on Senate procedure than Cruz and it’s self-beclowning to suggest otherwise. You, me, all of us who comment on politics for a living, we are all the peanut gallery compared to him.
Again I emphasize that it’s perfectly fair to criticize anything he does. But that is not what’s happening here. What’s happening here is an attempt by people who aren’t fit to tie Cruz’s shoes, acting either from leadership talking points or leadership like groupthink, to illegitimize him by creating a socially acceptable narrative that he is an idiot or a charlatan. I strongly oppose the use of these tactics for the facially obvious reason that no serious person could actually think it is true on the merits.
And while we are at it, while I am uncertain as to Cruz’s maneuver this weekend and whether it ultimately had any bearing on the confirmation of the nominees or not, I will note that literally all the people who are now criticizing Cruz on the Internet ALSO proclaimed just as loudly and with just as much certainty back in 2013 that Cruz’s actions in forcing the government shutdown would cost the Republicans the 2014 elections. So right now the credibility scorecard reads “Ted Cruz 1, Hyperventilating Ted Cruz Critics 0.”
One wonders if there is any amount of goalpost moving that these people would eschew. When Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell came along, they were attacked as idiots and unqualified buffoons who were not intellectually serious. When Ted Cruz comes along with a Harvard Law Degree and years of experience as a Solicitor General, then suddenly being manifestly smart and well qualified also doesn’t matter: Ted Cruz still gets painted with the same brush.
Criticize Cruz strongly if you want. But think before you pick up the Alinsky playbook to use against him. The media doesn’t need your help painting literally all Republicans are dumb, especially in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Calling him an idiot reveals that someone is an idiot, and it isn’t Ted Cruz.