Well, that didn’t take long to catch fire.
November 24th, Yahoo Politics published a piece by Andrew Romano titled “Ted Cruz Has Always Had a Master Plan. Now it Could Win Him the White House,” in which Romano paints Cruz as an opportunistic, calculating, power-hungry schemer.
I wrote about the piece, arguing that the leftist media was going to mimic and expand on this method of attack as Cruz continued to rise in the polls. Like Mafia underlings taking a non-verbal command from a don, the trend has continued at The New York Times, which just published a piece by op-Ed columnist Frank Bruni titled “Anyone but Ted Cruz.”
In the piece, Bruni lays it on thick right from the beginning:
“You’re evaluating candidates for an open job in your company, and you come across one who makes a big impression. He’s clearly brilliant — maybe smarter than any of the others. He’s a whirlwind of energy. And man oh man can he give a presentation. On any subject, he’s informed, inflamed, precise.
But then you talk with people who’ve worked with him at various stages of his career. They dislike him. No, scratch that. They loathe him. They grant him all of the virtues that you’ve observed, but tell you that he’s the antithesis of a team player. His thirst for the spotlight is unquenchable. His arrogance is unalloyed. He actually takes pride in being abrasive, as if a person’s tally of detractors measures his fearlessness, not his obnoxiousness.”
Bruni goes on to brutalize Cruz, claiming that “insiders” are filled with horror at the “nasty piece of work” that is the Senator from Texas. Bruni mentions John Boehner’s hatred of Cruz, and that numerous Senators are lining up behind Marco Rubio because the thought of a Cruz presidency is allegedly bone-chilling to them. Bruni heavily pushes the anti-endorsement argument.
The funny thing is, Bruni doesn’t seem to understand the state we’re in politically; a state in which being liked by people like John Boehner and ambiguous Washington “insiders” is a bad thing.
Bruni laments Cruz’s alleged hypocrisy for calling out the CNBC moderators on their “mean-spirited questions,” while at the same time criticizing his fellow Senators:
“The audacity of those complaints was awe-inspiring: Cruz rose to national prominence with gratuitous, overwrought tirades against fellow party members and with a complete lack of deference to elders in the Senate…”
I imagine after writing that paragraph, Bruni sat back in his chair, stared out the window, and congratulated his own brilliance. I caught Cruz in a double standard! But Bruni failed to listen. More than that, he seems to have an inability to discern the difference between “tirades” and truth telling.
George Orwell famously wrote that in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act–and that’s precisely what Cruz continues to do. As he explains in the following video, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republicans one thing, then did another.
All Cruz did in his speech on the Senate floor was expose that contrast. I encourage you to watch Cruz’s speech here.
Bruni is aghast that Cruz has “no deference” to the senior members of the Party. But if Cruz is right, if Senator McConnell did in fact lie, then deference means sitting back and allowing corruption to continue unabated. As Cruz himself said in his floor speech:
“There is a profound disappointment among the American people because we keep winning elections, and we keep getting leaders who don’t do anything they promised.”
This is fact. This is on record. All you need to do is google the campaign promises of elected officials, then observe how their behavior changed once their Senate or House seat was secure.
Ted Cruz called Senator McConnell out on his behavior. He’s called out numerous politicians on their behavior. Perhaps it does break decorum. God forbid decorum be broken to tell the truth. If that’s a bad quality, then so be it.
There’s a stark difference between castigating moderators for asking gotcha questions which would pit candidates against each other in a superficial way, and calling out liars for telling lies. But Bruni equates the two, then acts as if he’s discovered a new species hitherto unseen.
Bruni’s second point of attack is just as misguided. He attempts to characterize Cruz’s most famous moments as simple attention-seeking:
“His three signature moments in the Senate have been a florid smearing of Chuck Hagel with no achievable purpose other than attention for Ted Cruz, a flamboyant rebellion against Obamacare with no achievable purpose other than attention for Ted Cruz, and a fiery protest of federal funding for Planned Parenthood with no achievable purpose other than attention for Ted Cruz. Notice any pattern?”
After writing that, Bruni probably sat back once again, brimming with pride. But once again, Bruni can’t see beyond his own nose. Cruz’s big moments were not purposeless.
Let’s take them one at a time:
Senator Cruz had ample reason to oppose Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense, including Hagel’s apparent antipathy toward Israel, as well as his unwillingness to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization–among other things. Cruz was not alone in this.
Moreover, his questioning of Hagel was not a smear. During the hearing, Cruz played a clip from a radio interview on Al Jazeera in which Hagel not only didn’t dispute a caller’s claim that Israel had committed war crimes, but seemed to agree with him. I wouldn’t call that a smear, nor would I say Cruz did it for no other reason than to glorify himself.
Here’s the questioning:
And here’s Cruz speaking with Fox News’ Hannity about Hagel’s deficiencies:
Cruz had a plan to defund Obamacare, which he explains at great length in his book. His filibuster was part of that plan. Despite its failure, Cruz promised Texans he would do everything he could to take down Obamacare, and he followed through on that promise. Additionally, it brought attention, and therefore more scrutiny, to the ACA.
Bruni claims Cruz’s filibuster had “no achievable purpose.” That’s simply incorrect. It was an achievable plan had Republicans not been spineless. Additionally, even if something is not achievable, there is value in acting on principle in the face of defeat.
Lastly, Cruz on defunding Planned Parenthood. Cruz believed that there were serious, potentially criminal practices going on at Planned Parenthood, and as such, he advocated defunding the abortion provider. Again, it’s difficult to see how this can be viewed as simple fame-conjuring. It’s not provable.
However, Bruni doesn’t need to prove anything. He only needs to make negative implications that will fester in the minds of readers.
Lastly, Bruni quotes Craig Mazin, Cruz’s roommate at Princeton Freshman year, who said:
“I would rather have anybody else be the president of the United States. Anyone. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book.”
Ah, so one person seriously dislikes Cruz. I can play that game.
Cruz’s Princeton debate partner David Panton said this of Cruz:
“Unlike what others may say, I consider Ted to be very kind. He is a very, very gentle-hearted person. He took me under his wing and was a mentor to me. He was very kind to me. I am a much smarter and much better person today because of Ted Cruz.”
So Bruni, we’re even on that one, right?
This is the strategy going out. Paint Ted Cruz as a narcissistic, nearly sociopathic man, driven solely by his desire for power. This strategy has legs because while anyone with a brain can see that pieces like Frank Bruni’s are stunningly vapid, low-information voters can be easily convinced that Cruz’s bombastic denunciations are driven by power-hunger, and not love of country.
Watch out for this. This is an insidious strategy because it’s not based on anything concrete; it’s based on unprovable implications. The left knows that negative implications have a tendency to metastasize in the minds of voters, and that’s their hope with these airy allegations.
When you hear someone repeating these talking points, correct them in a calm, knowledgeable way. If enough of us are on guard, laying out the truth, this strategy will be less effective.