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June 26, 2014 7:55 AM   Subscribe

The Absolutist: [The New Yorker] Jeffrey Toobin profiles the current state of Ted Cruz.
posted by Fizz (32 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mr Cruz: No. 1, I’m going to encourage each and every man and woman here to pray. If ever there was an issue on which we should come to our knees to God about, it is preserving marriage of one man and one woman. And this is an issue on which we need as many praying warriors as possible to turn back the tide.

This doesn't make any sense. Their reason for banning gay marriage is that God is supposed to be strongly against it, right? If they have to make an effort to get him involved, they shouldn't have a problem with gay marriage to begin with.
posted by Herr Zebrurka at 8:23 AM on June 26 [15 favorites]


True, Herr Z, it makes no sense - but then again nothing about praying for results makes any sense.

God: "I'll kill this child unless I receive 597 prayers on her behalf! Hurry, the clock is ticking!"

Frankly, that's not the most insane thing he's said, by far. (But it is completely counter-rationality.)
posted by IAmBroom at 8:25 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


"... fifty-five years ago, when my father came from Cuba, he was eighteen, he was penniless, and he couldn’t speak English,” Cruz said on the Senate floor. “But he was lucky to be able to apply for a student visa, to get to America. He was lucky to be accepted to the University of Texas, to flee the Batista regime, where he had been imprisoned and tortured as a kid.” Later, Cruz said, “Thank the good Lord that when my dad was a teen-age immigrant in Texas fifty-five years ago, how grateful I am that some well-meaning liberal did not come and put his arm around him and say, ‘Let me take care of you. Let me give you a government check. Let me make you dependent on the government. Don’t bother washing dishes. Don’t bother working.’ ”

And thank god that apparently no conservatives noticed that he was Hispanic.
posted by Naberius at 8:42 AM on June 26 [7 favorites]


Now I see why the right considers him a deep thinker - his worldview stretches back further than St. Reagan. All the way to Nixon. What a putz.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:42 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


He denies the existence of man-made climate change, opposes comprehensive immigration reform, rejects marriage equality, and, of course, demands the repeal of “every blessed word of Obamacare.” (Cruz gets his own health-care coverage from Goldman Sachs, where his wife is a vice-president.)

That sums up Ted Cruz. Fuck me, he's got his,
posted by vibrotronica at 8:49 AM on June 26 [18 favorites]


Rafael is a glib man with eloquence, a vocabulary and an agenda, which he serves vociferously and unceasingly. He is very intelligent, and knows exactly what he's doing when he misrepresents and cherry-picks facts to serve that agenda, and most interviewers are not quick enough to catch him on all his dodges and feints. It's really quite a remarkable show, and his opponents need to step up their game, because his side is winning, regardless of the horse-race babble regarding individual Republican primaries. Even when the "establishment" Republican wins, it's because they've dodged to the right far enough and they will be held accountable in the next primary.

All this makes him a dangerous man, because his agenda rests on an ideology that doesn't fit the real world in any normal sense of the word. If implemented it would create a mean-spirited, exclusionary society with clear winners (the wealthy) and losers (everyone else). I hope those whose mission it is to fight the creep of this ideology into our government pull together and figure out to what territory they want to take the fight soon, or they won't have a chance.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:51 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


So here's a guy who was born in Alberta, Canada, and is the son of a Cuban immigrant..... and he wants to lock the doors to every other immigrant ever born. Make sense to me!

Also:
"Marriage is under assault" --- yep, apparently all those awful people who are insisting on their right to get married are anti-marriage.
posted by easily confused at 8:52 AM on June 26


And thank god that apparently no conservatives noticed that he was Hispanic.

...and Canadian.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:53 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


Who is the left's answer to a very, very Constitutionally literate politician? Who can I read who makes the well-reasoned arguments that are the counter to Cruz's? I don't have the Constitutional chops to argue with someone who agrees with Cruz's positions. And as a Texan and a political science major (years ago), this really burns me up :)
posted by tayknight at 9:06 AM on June 26


Something about his eyes always makes me think he looks like a real-life Doonesbury character.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:10 AM on June 26 [7 favorites]


Rafael is a glib man with eloquence, a vocabulary and an agenda, which he serves vociferously and unceasingly. He is very intelligent, and knows exactly what he's doing when he misrepresents and cherry-picks facts to serve that agenda, and most interviewers are not quick enough to catch him on all his dodges and feints.


Yeah, the debate background isn't what you'd call surprising. Really clever people who get good at debate are dangerous. It's basically sophistry training--I got out of it in college for basically that reason. It did hone my mind a bit--not as much as working on something real and really difficult, but non-trivially. But it made me, intellectually speaking, kind of an asshole. And it took me a long time to get over that.

To me, Cruz seems to have the debate attitude in spades. He simply can't believe a lot of the things he says...but he doesn't let the truth get in the way of persuading people. The article says that he really believes that stuff... Which is also possible. The really dangerous demagogues seem to me to be some weird superposition of (i) lying manipulators and (ii) crazies who believe their own bullshit.

There's not really an inconsistency there. Start with insufficient regard for the truth and you get a tendency to pick the conclusions you want and run with them. Then all your rational energies are directed at convincing others--and yourselff--that you're right. without the self-regulator that questions your own inclinations, your reason becomes the slave of your passions and prejudices.

Smart, passionate dogmatists are dangerous people. And when you add political ambition...not good...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 9:11 AM on June 26 [7 favorites]


Backpfeifengesicht.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:15 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


From TFA:
So, at this point, Cruz’s concerted attempt to establish himself as the most extreme conservative in the race for the Republican nomination has not evoked much fear in Democrats. “We all hope he runs,” one Democratic senator told me. “He’s their Mondale.”

Politics is nasty business, but ... ouch.
posted by eclectist at 9:22 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


> but then again nothing about praying for results makes any sense.

I'm not a religious man, but the impression I get is that Almighty God is simultaneously omnipotent and completely powerless.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:45 AM on June 26 [7 favorites]


So, at this point, Cruz’s concerted attempt to establish himself as the most extreme conservative in the race for the Republican nomination has not evoked much fear in Democrats. “We all hope he runs,” one Democratic senator told me. “He’s their Mondale.”


which shows just how lazy and short-sighted Dem pols are. Mondale was a loser but a middle of the road kind of guy. The Reagan revolution was first and foremost an ideological revolution. The Reaganites permanently changed the political agenda in the US and people like Cruz are working to continue that ideological struggle. Even if he loses, he wins. St. Reagan was too extreme once...
posted by ennui.bz at 9:48 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


I thought it was interesting that Toobin pointed out that Cruz essentially ignores that every time a Republican candidate has attempted to run on polarizing politics since Goldwater in 1964, they have gotten creamed. While Nixon may have run against Civil Rights, in other areas he was a moderate.

In Canada, in the recent Ontario election, the "Progressive Conservative" party brought in Republican strategists to run their election, and they ran a polarizing campaign, hoping to motivate their base. But polarizing tactics backfired in a big way, since it seems that it motivated "left leaning" voters to make it out to the polls.

It would be a fun, crazy election if Cruz won the nomination. But it's still so early on that I think Cruz is going to peak early and fade from site. But 4-6 years from now he will be back.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:54 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Even if he loses, he wins. St. Reagan was too extreme once...

Yeah, I thought Toobin's take on Reagan was a little weird, considering Reagan's record as California governor...
posted by KokuRyu at 9:55 AM on June 26


Smart, passionate dogmatists are dangerous people. And when you add political ambition...not good...

I think I see your point; but on the other hand, where would we be without the smart, passionate dogmatists of the labor movement, or the civil rights movement?

Smart, passionate dogmatism in defense of entrenched and amoral privilege is what's dangerous, to my mind. That same kind of advocacy, on a large and organized scale, on behalf of real social justice is what's been missing from the empty space in America where the Left should be for the last three decades or so.
posted by clockzero at 10:04 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


Is Cruz dogmatic? More like Bob Roberts, if you ask me.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:46 AM on June 26


Is Cruz dogmatic? More like Bob Roberts, if you ask me.

I was just thinking about that quick close-up of the foot tapping at the end of that film the other day. 2 seconds sums up the "whatever it takes to win" mentality of what strikes me as a pretty conscienceless group of power-mongers. Cruz might actually believe the core principles of his positions, but his "baffle 'em with bullshit" style belies his intentions.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:12 AM on June 26


Almighty God is simultaneously omnipotent and completely powerless.

And fickle. Very fickle.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:21 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Almighty God is simultaneously omnipotent and completely powerless.

God has an amazing PR team, though. If things turn-out the way you prayed for, he gets praise for answering prayers. If things don't go your way, he gets praised in terms of "he has a plan". Everything is a win-win for that guy.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:32 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


Almighty God is simultaneously omnipotent and completely powerless.

God has an amazing PR team, though. If things turn-out the way you prayed for, he gets praise for answering prayers. If things don't go your way, he gets praised in terms of "he has a plan". Everything is a win-win for that guy.


I know, right? Christ, what an asshole.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:38 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


I don't understand politicians who insist the government is incompetent, untrustworthy and too powerful - except when it comes to executions, where the awesome power of the state is used with careful consideration and always appropriately.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:50 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


easily confused: "So here's a guy who was born in Alberta, Canada, and is the son of a Cuban immigrant..... and he wants to lock the doors to every other immigrant ever born. Make sense to me!"

That's sort of the trend... Look at, say, the WASPs who hated the Irish (you know, Gangs of New York and all that - anti-Papists vs the Catholics)... Then you have the Italians in NY, or you have a large Eastern European immigration to the midwest/rust-belt, bring with them all sorts of dangerous Communist/Anarchist ideas... And the Irish picked on them, and now they pick on Mexicans, and all the blue-collar working class hate all the newb immigrants trying to get a leg up, just like their forebears did, because... fuck you I got mine, or something.

Goddamned fucking hypocrites.
posted by symbioid at 12:17 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu:I thought it was interesting that Toobin pointed out that Cruz essentially ignores that every time a Republican candidate has attempted to run on polarizing politics since Goldwater in 1964, they have gotten creamed. While Nixon may have run against Civil Rights, in other areas he was a moderate.

Essentially, this. There were plenty of GOP hard-right candidates in both '08 and '12, and not only did they not get any real traction in the primaries, but to the extent that the eventual nominees took hard-right positions in order to get that part of the base to nominate them, it hurt them in the general--the one ray of light in Romney's campaign occurred in the first debate, when he basically ignored his previous statements and went moderate, which threw a distracted Obama off his game.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:30 PM on June 26 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it's amazing that more of the Republican tacticians don't seem to recognize this. Very conservative positions may win primaries, but they don't seem to appeal quite enough in general elections. In other words, the hardcore conservatives excel at winning the battles and losing the wars.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:51 PM on June 26


symbioid: ...because... fuck you I got mine, or something.

Goddamned fucking hypocrites.


And there you have the entire GOP platform for the last several years, at least.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:05 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


His message, in substance, is that on the issues a Cruz Presidency would be roughly identical to a Sarah Palin Presidency.

It might make for some epic threads on metafilter.
posted by bukvich at 3:26 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Still working my way through, but I'm amazed at how much self-delusion is in just the first paragraph. Nixon & Reagan won two terms because they were hard-line conservatives? Bush Sr. lost reelection because he raised taxes and ran as a moderate? Reagan raised taxes at least 11 times in eight years, and that has not prevented his canonization. Nixon signed an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act raising the minimum wage by 40%.

Here's Nixon from 1965: "The problem with far-right conservatives like [William F.] Buckley ... is that they really don't give a damn about people and the voters sense that. ... There is only one thing as bad as a far-left liberal and that's a damn right-wing conservative."

I don't know if Cruz is really that stupid and ignorant of history, or if he is saying these things to create a narrative that will get him the job he wants.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:20 AM on June 27 [2 favorites]


Cruz isn't stupid. We do ourselves a disservice if we go around believing that. And to some, history is a tool that should be bent and re-shaped to work for them.

It's good to call-out lies. But it's kind of a waste to spend too much time proving that they are lies, and it's delusional to think that successfully proving them to be lies will have any great effect. They've got a great big bag of them, and will gladly toss you another one to spend your time working on while they go on about their business.

By which I mean, yes, he is saying these things to create a narrative that will get him the power he wants.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:52 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


I thought it was interesting that Toobin pointed out that Cruz essentially ignores that every time a Republican candidate has attempted to run on polarizing politics since Goldwater in 1964, they have gotten creamed. While Nixon may have run against Civil Rights, in other areas he was a moderate.

George W Bush's first campaign positioned him as a fairly moderate "compassionate" Conservative in the "campaign about nothing" where his platform was seen as hard to distinguish from Al Gore's. He promised to be a "uniter not a divider". But then his second campaign was entirely based on deeply polarizing attacks on his opponents as unAmerican sympathizers with bin Laden. And he won both (sort of) and then governed both his terms as divisively as he could. Of course his two campaigns, bracketing 9/11 as they did, may be a special case.
posted by scalefree at 7:46 PM on June 27


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