The way we behave when we fall reveals our grace. The way we behave when we see another take our place at the top reveals our character.
As the Iowa primary inches closer, and the pressure to deliver builds, the facade of each candidate is being peeled back. We’ve moved into the phase of the primary season when the attacks get sharper, and unfortunately, more dishonest.
The “us against them” solidarity we saw at the beginning of the season has given way to a bitter fight for survival as money gets tight, and voters coalesce behind their candidate of choice.
With Ted Cruz now the leader in Iowa, all guns are pointed his way. We saw Rick Santorum claim Cruz wasn’t a conservative because of his Tenth Amendment stance on gay marriage; we saw Mike Huckabee tell an outright lie when a Super PAC ad grossly mischaracterized a conversation between Cruz and a donor. Now, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul have jumped on the bandwagon.
Rand Paul, currently polling at 2.8%, recently laid into Cruz for the way in which he has dealt with Republican leadership, telling NBC’s Chuck Todd:
“I’ve given 10-hour speeches, 13-hour speeches without calling anybody names, but talking about the history of our country, the importance of the Bill of Rights, the importance of the Fourth Amendment and privacy, but I tend not to have the same strategy of attacking people personally. It hasn’t done well for him in Washington. It may be rousing people, but ultimately I don’t think that kind of personality would allow him to be the nominee.”
It’s odd that Rand Paul is targeting Cruz in this way. If Ted Cruz’s allegations against Mitch McConnell occurred as told–if McConnell told fellow Republicans one thing, then did another–all Cruz did was tell the truth. It certainly is rousing; the American people don’t want someone who gives deference to a liar. The time for procedural niceties is over. Look what it’s gotten us. We have a ruling class more corrupt than the mafia, and we continue to get candidates who are either a party to the corruption, or who simply look the other way.
Boo hoo, Cruz wasn’t cordial.
As George Orwell wrote, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” We need a revolutionary candidate, and that means someone who doesn’t give deference to liars, who speaks out when he sees corruption, and isn’t afraid to take the heat for doing so.
Paul’s attempted smear of Cruz is actually an indictment of his own weakness.
If Paul’s attack was a feather, Fiorina’s was a baseball bat. Speaking with Dana Bash Sunday, Fiorina, polling at 2.5%, said:
“Ted Cruz is just like any other politician. He says one thing in Manhattan, he says another thing in Iowa…He says whatever he needs to say to get elected, and then he’s going to do as he pleases.”
This is the same lie being told by Mike Huckabee. The two candidates are referencing a taped conversation between Ted Cruz and a donor at a Manhattan fundraiser. In the tape, Cruz says that fighting gay marriage isn’t a “top three” priority. The implication is that Cruz is duplicitous.
I hate to rehash what I’ve previously written, but this is important, so I’ll take a moment to define the situation more clearly. A Super PAC supporting Huckabee put out an ad featuring the recording. Here it is:
But when you read the full transcript, everything changes:
DONOR: “Can I ask you a question? So, I’m a big supporter. And the only issue I really disagree with you about is gay marriage. And I’m curious: Given all the problems that the country’s facing–like ISIS, the growth of government–how big a priority is fighting gay marriage going to be to a Cruz administration?”
CRUZ: “My view on gay marriage is that I’m a constitutionalist and marriage is a question for the states. And so I think if someone wants to change the marriage laws of their state, the way to do so is convince your fellow citizens–and change them democratically, rather than five unelected judges…Being a constitutionalist is integral to my approach to every other issue. So that I’m very devoted to.”
DONOR: “So would you say it’s like a top-three priority for you–fighting gay marriage?”
CRUZ: “No. I would say defending the Constitution is a top priority. And that cuts across the whole spectrum–whether it’s defending [the] First Amendment, defending religious liberty, stopping courts from making public policy issues that are left to the people…I also think the 10th Amendment of the Constitution cuts across a whole lot of issues and can bring people together. People of New York may well resolve the marriage question differently than the people of Florida or Texas or Ohio…That’s why we have 50 states–to allow a diversity of views. And so that is a core commitment.”
The transcript is almost word-for-word what Cruz has said on national television multiple times. It’s a nothing-burger; it’s a nontroversy. But Fiorina has glommed onto it because she seems to think it has legs. It’s pretty sad, actually.
So now we’ve seen attacks on Cruz from Rubio, Paul, Huckabee, Santorum, and Fiorina. Some have been outright dishonest, some have been poorly formulated, some have been entirely circumstantial, but all have sought to do two things: Paint Ted Cruz as untrustworthy, and so difficult as to be ineffective. This is the manner in which the media has been attacking Cruz, and now his fellow Republicans, in a panic, have taken the idea and run with it.
The final debate before Iowa is critical, and all the guns will be pointed at Cruz. But Cruz will have his own guns–he also happens to be a sharpshooter. Let the firefight begin.