01 February 2017
Ted Cruz's first senate term in a nutshell
The National Review's Tim Alberta switched to Politico, and one of his opening pieces put Ted Cruz's first term in a nutshell
It was a sleepy Wednesday morning last June when Ted Cruz tipped his hand.
John McCain had sponsored an amendment to expand the FBI’s online surveillance capabilities, and it was a no-brainer for the many devout constitutionalists on Cruz’s Senate staff. Rand Paul and Mike Lee—two reliable Republican allies in the fight for civil liberties—were adamantly opposed, and it was presumed throughout the upper chamber that Cruz would be too. When the vote came, however, the Texas senator stunned his colleagues by siding with McCain and the GOP leadership. The amendment failed to advance, but Cruz’s vote sent tremors through his Senate office. The previous month he’d quit the 2016 race and returned to Congress, yet he was still in campaign mode, anatomizing daily decisions on calls with his political team. This particular vote—which was influenced, several sources recall, by data suggesting Cruz’s flirtation with libertarianism made him vulnerable on national security during the GOP primary
1. It's all about President Ted Cruz.
As soon as he was sworn into office in 2013, Ted Cruz was running for president. His first trip to Iowa was just a few months later, in the summer of 2013. Every vote, every strategic decision is guided by how this will put Ted Cruz in the Oval Office.
2. What do the polls say?
Every thing is calculated. Much like Bill Clinton, they try to calculate everything out with poll data. That's what drove the love affair with Donald Trump followed by the breakup followed by the makeup followed by the breakup, followed by the predictable endorsement. Even if they're using scientifically questionable psychobabble (Cruz 2016 stopped using Cambridge Analytica entirely after South Carolina)
3. "Stand for principle."
There's a psychological concept called "The Shadow." The idea is that the thing you like least about yourself (possibly unconsciously) is the thing you criticize in other people. You see where I'm going with this?
Ted Cruz repeated "Stand for principle" over and over again in his 2012 race. As a senator, Ted Cruz has never taken a single stand for principle if it would cost him politically.
In 2012, he talked about his zealotry in the fight for religious freedom. But during the presidential campaign, he was so afraid of Trump's tweets, that multiple times he voted against this:
It is the sense of the Senate that the United States must not bar individuals from entering into the United States based on their religion, as such action would be contrary to the fundamental principles on which this Nation was founded.
If that's what a fighter for religious freedom does, I think religious freedom would be better off with less fighters.
[Let's gloss over the fact that while ISIS was cleansing entire regions of Christians, Cruz never mentioned it -- in fact, he went out of his way to antagonize Middle East Christians as a political stunt -- because the campaign had decided that the religious freedom message was Democrat Kim Davis. Gotta stay on message.]
Crop insurance, when he realized his anti-subsidy vote was going to kill him in Iowa, so he went back to the Senate Clerk and flipped his vote. I guess it's ok if government picks winners and losers after all.
Or there's the free trade bill, where he was leading the fight in favor (his pro-trade stance led at least one of his senior staffers to quit), until his poll numbers stalled because Bannon's Breitbart and the talk radio show hosts were criticizing him. So Cruz went quiet for a few weeks, and then emerged with the exact same arguments that he'd debunked a few weeks earlier in his WSJ op-ed with Paul Ryan.
The list could go on and on - the VAT tax, the shifting sands of Ted Cruz's immigration positions over the years, etc etc.
Ted Cruz is world class at hitting the emotional buttons of activists. But during his six years in the Senate, the only principle Ted Cruz stands for is Ted Cruz.