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Ted Cruz

By Weston Hicks | 2 years ago

Some of us have stayed out of the senate race, not sure there is anything to get overheated about.

Cruz seems to be in good shape, though there is no reason to venture a definitive guess as to who will win. Tonight we’ll know.

Cruz has certainly run a conservative campaign. In fact, Cruz has run the most conservative campaign anyone has ever seen. The fact that he’s gotten away with such a conservative campaign is one of the things that is so unusual about this race, but we’ll come to that later.

I’ve been dogged, however, by several things about Cruz, following in no particular order:

Cruz has no record.

As Solicitor General, he has the ability to disclaim anything he might have done that would be politically inconvenient with four small words, “My boss made me.”

The other side of that coin is, he can’t get full credit for the politically helpful things he’s done. In a climate like this, and having worked for a genuine social conservative in Gregg Abbott, that includes everything he did.

At the end of the day his boss made him do all of those great things.

Cruz got his start in the Bush White House.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, Cruz hasn’t exactly run as a Bush Republican. Cruz hasn’t gotten near-unanimous tea party support as a Bush Republican. But he did get his start working in George W. Bush’s White House. Why has this been so absent from the Cruz v. Dewhurst senatorial campaign?

This is one of the hardest choices to figure of the Dewhurst campaign. They wouldn’t have had to run as enemies of the Bushes to paint a picture of who gave Cruz his wings. Giving campaign life to such a fact would have created a loud clash with the character Cruz has created to win a Senate seat.

Saddled with the baggage of an actual record, they have tried to out-conservative a blank-slate candidate, when they could have made him into a moderate by his connections.

Is there someone out there who thinks the Bush White House job isn’t probably the single most informative fact in fast rise of Ted Cruz? Is a start like that something you just get to walk away from, and right into the Texas AG’s office?

Cruz fits the model.

Right now the Establishment Republicans are trading heavily in relatively unknown firebrand conservative campaigners with Hispanic surnames, banking on the fact conservatives will be a lot slower to point out when they behave as moderates.

And they’re right. To the extent that we’ve accepted political correctness we’ve invited weapons like this. Political correctness is soft racism, a pact to lower expectations for certain people. Those of us who think everyone is truly equal still believe everyone is equally subject to criticism for incompetence or double dealing. This is what conservatives get for trying to give their conservatism a liberal personality.

Cruz’s wife’s history is Wall Street and Bush.

Who’s seen the tax returns? Is this what grassroots firebrand conservatives look like? She’s made millions in investment banking in the last few years. Heidi Cruz is also a veteran of the Bush Administartion and a former investment banker for JP Morgan.

Again, without criticizing her, this is more Romney than DeMint, but Cruz has run as DeMint, not Romney.

Cruz’s finance report is littered with Bush Republicans from all over the country.

John Ashcroft’s consulting firm gave Cruz one of his biggest contributions. Goldman Sachs gave another big one.

Unprotected people who run as far to the right as Cruz has have to dodge a steady barrage of “crazy” darts, relentlessly thrown from media, moderates, and liberals.

And this hasn’t happened to Cruz. My father always told me if something feels too good to be true it probably is.

“Wow, Cruz is as conservative as I am! Wow, Cruz must be good, because he’s run as an arch-conservative and hasn’t been criticized all that much for it! Wow, I’m used to guys who say things like Cruz does being called all sorts of names! Wow, Cruz went to Harvard and left with his traditional values intact! Wow, Cruz started out working for George W. Bush, but instead of being moderate he is as far to the right as you can get! Wow, it’s the best of all worlds!”

In truth, someone is likely getting played, and it’s either one of the most powerful political machines in the history of the world, or the Texas conservative movement.

The endorsement cascade is self-perpetuating.

One guy relies on the last guy’s endorsement, who relied on the guy before him, who relied on the other guy, and pretty soon there are  just too many trustworthy names on the list for this guy not to be the real McCoy. Right?

Why did we see a Houston news channel, the same people who ran puff pieces for Bill White two years ago, running a puff piece for Ted Cruz last night?

For that matter, remember how stand-bys like Paul Burka acted about Ken Paxton when he was running for speaker? Paxton is a true conviction conservative, but his campaign was less hardcore conservative than Cruz’s senate run has been. Nevertheless, people like Burka tried to crucify Paxton.

I got an immigration mailer per day for a while from Ted Cruz, yet this morning Burka wrote some kind words about Cruz, calling George P. Bush the big winner in this race since he bought Cruz early and heavy.

The Bush crew doesn’t like Dewhurst or Perry.

I was explaining this to a lawyer friend using a law firm analogy. Fulbright and Jawarski is a powerhouse firm, an institution. If you get a job there out of law school, you have instant credibility. The Bush crew is like Fulbright and Jawarski. A real machine.

Then there is Joe Jamail. Joe Jamail graduated in the lower half of his law school class. Right out of law school hung out his own shingle. Now he’s got $1.5 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. Jamail has made himself into a one man institution.

Dewhurst, and Perry for that matter, are a little like political Jamails, at least, after a fashion. It’s not that they aren’t beholden to the institution they’ve built. It’s just that they built it. They didn’t use anyone else’s (Dewhurst largely self-funds). Sure, they cooperated with lots of people along the way, but they managed to stay out of anyone else’s stable.

And this makes them targets #1 and 2 in Texas for the Bush Republican crowd. Dewhurst and Perry have joined forces to try and fortify.

Knowing this should put people on heightened alert for people from the Bush orbit running at these guys, like Senator Hutchison in the last gubernatorial campaign. You have to wonder if they would really have given away a Senate seat if they didn’t believe they could hold it.

And then, the day before the election Cruz told reporters he’d be working with Democrats too, and with a full throat that he’s going to work ever so closely with John Cornyn.

Cornyn isn’t a bad guy, but neither is he a DeMint guy. Things said at the last minute of elections are said to get them on the record so that later they can honestly be claimed to have been said “during the campaign”. Things said or not said at this stage are helpful information. These particular quotes aren’t the most consistent with Cruz’s campaign character.

For Cruz to challenge Dewhurst he had to run this far to the right, because if he ran as a moderate he’d just be an inexperienced guy running out of turn.

Only a quasi-crisis like our economy coupled with rank impurity in the frontrunner could have justified a Cruz run, and only a hardcore conservative can credibly make the impurity accusation. So, Cruz was always going to be a hardcore conservative, or else not run this time.

I recently told my lawyer friend that I hoped I was wrong about Cruz, but that my gut feeling was that he’d turn out to be a moderate. A major mitigating factor is that he had to run so far to the right that he’ll have an argument with his political bosses for taking his time in his stroll towards the middle.

And while I desperately hope I’m wrong, my other guess is that he won’t wait. I think Ted Cruz will give the conservative movement whiplash after he’s in office.

Two outcomes are possible. This is wrong and Ted Cruz will be another Jim DeMint. I hope and pray this is the case.

The other is that this am right. If so, Ted Cruz will have no mandate for a re-election, and will open the door for a genuine conservative to run as what Ted Cruz was supposed to be.