Ted Cruz, Previous Experience, and Predictors of Success

Heisman Trophy Football

Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s announcement that he intended to seek the nomination of the Republican party to run for President let of a rather staggering scene on the left and right. On the left, Cruz was declared to be unelectable because of his views on everything from the national budget and ritualized buggery homosexual marriage to his decision to announce at Liberty University and the fact that he’s an observant Christian.

On the right the criticism was just as strident with the primary critiques being torn between “electability” (as stunning as it may sound, Rand effing Paul hinted that Cruz was not electable which makes me think either Paul isn’t running or that he’s been sampling some of Kentucky’s finest hemp) and questions about his experience. As no one is “electable” until they are elected, I’ll leave that aside. The issue that needs to be addressed in [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]’s experience. Though Cruz is only 44 years old he has had a wide range of experience:

Private practice with the law firm now known as Cooper & Kirk and later with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP.

The George Bush campaign including drafting the winning argument in Bush v. Gore.

Associate Deputy Attorney General, US Department of Justice.

Domestic Policy Advisor, Bush White House.

Director of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission.

Longest serving Solicitor General for Texas.

US Senator.

Whether you think this experience is relevant or not is a value judgment. To say that someone with this sustained experience at the highest levels of state and federal government doesn’t have experience is rather buffoonish.

Much is made of the virtue of executive experience. I would counsel that executive experience is only important if it is coupled with an executive temperament. While Ronald Reagan had such a temperament, others may not. Jimmy Carter, for instance, was a fairly successful two-term governor of Georgia. But he was a micro-manager who had to approve use of the White House tennis courts and was in direct communication with the operational commander on the ground in Iran during the ill-fated Operation EAGLE CLAW. Being an successful executive may entail knowing how to delegate and what to focus on, but it doesn’t necessarily follow. Peter Drucker’s seminal work, The Peter Principle, is devoted to people who were successful until they weren’t. In the words of Frederick the Great, “I once had an ass who followed me on a dozen campaigns, at the end he was still an ass.”

The job of president is so unique that there is no logical progression of positions that provide experience so relevant that you say, “Gee, if you haven’t done [fill in the blank], you can’t be president.” If past performance in a similar position were really indicative of future performance, then the NFL Hall of Fame would be wall-to-wall Heisman Trophy winners. It isn’t. That’s because being a great college football player has as much relevance to being a great pro football as [fill in the blank] does to being a successful president. Dwight Eisenhower, for instance, had never held elective office and running an army is so markedly different from being President that it can be argued it was totally irrelevant, but his temperament let him muddle through two terms.  Abraham Lincoln had served one term in Congress.

I don’t know what kind of president Ted Cruz would make. Right now he is not my top choice (my favorite FWIW is Scott Walker, because anyone who has beaten the left as frequently as he has is a fighter), but I like him. I like his positions. I am confident he is a fast learner. I am confident that he’s sure enough of himself that he’d choose smart, tough men and women to run the cabinet agencies (As hire As, as they say). I am also confident that, if elected, he’d be a successful president. I would be ecstatic to cast my vote for him.

In the final analysis there is no experience sufficient previous experience to qualify one for president. The Constitution realizes that:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

That single sentence determines the qualifications for President of the United States. As the primary season progresses you will see more and more stuff from the Jeb Bush camp denigrating the lack of experience of other candidates. Cruz and others should rise and fall based on their positions and how well they run their campaigns and not be subjected to some bullsh** pseudo-analysis of their “executive experience.”



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