If Ted Cruz announces he is running for president on Monday, you won’t read much about it here.
Even if he is serious and not, as The Daily Beast believes, only interested in drawing attention to himself, the first-term senator from Texas is not going to win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, much less the 2016 election. He is a political lightweight who has managed to alienate just about everyone except the most reactionary of Republican activists with his bluster and sabotage.
Cruz’ McCarthy-esque denunciations of his political opponents don’t suggest he’ll be able to persuade many Democrats to switch parties after two Republican presidential election defeats in a row.
But Cruz doesn’t stop there. If anything, he is more critical of fellow Republicans who imagine they can get away with trying to govern. When Republicans negotiate with President Barack Obama and his party on the debt ceiling, the budget, immigration reform or gun legislation, Cruz calls them spineless and “squishes” for even thinking of compromising.
Such remarks led conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin to call Cruz immature.
It is both self-serving (presuming principles are of no matter to opponents) and lazy in that it is always easy to say “no,” ridicule compromise and remain pristine rather than trying to improve legislation or introduce an alternative.
What exactly, she wonders, has Cruz accomplished during his grand two years in the Senate? If, as Rubin puts it, “yelling at people and voting ‘no’ don’t qualify,” the answer is nothing.
The lack of sophistication extends to Cruz’ thoughts on foreign policy. The American Conservative‘s Daniel Larison points out that Cruz is usually “in lockstep with hardliners when it comes to (wrongly) assessing threats and reliably endorsing the use of force” without displaying the faintest interest in any of the political conditions of the countries he wants to bomb.
The fact that Cruz thinks bombing anyone back to the “stone age” is the right way to combat terrorism shows that he prizes sounding tough and belligerent over giving any thought to the consequences and efficacy of the military action he supports.
Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin nevertheless cautions against writing Cruz off, saying he is “much smarter” in private than “the caricature painted by East Coast media elites” suggests.
If that is the case, it seems rather Cruz had made a caricature of himself.
The Texan is also a “serious organizer with old and new media skills and a strong work ethic,” according to Halperin, who believes that he could come out on top in Iowa, the first caucus state.
Maybe. But Iowan Republicans haven’t been very good at electing presidents lately.
In 2012, Rick Santorum won the Republican caucus in the state. Four years earlier, Mike Huckabee prevailed. Neither was ever a viable general election contender. John McCain came in fourth in 2008; Mitt Romney placed second last time. They went on to win the nomination.
Cruz may command the adoration of ideological zealots who play an outsized role in Republican primaries, but even Halperin knows he lacks all the necessary qualities to become the nominee. Cruz has no concrete agenda, no establishment support, no crossover appeal, seemingly no sense of humor, no concrete signs that he can turn base support into rising poll standing and no general election credibility — whatsoever.
Add to that a tendency to lie or make things up (according to Politifact, barely a fifth of the things Cruz says are actually true or mostly true) and it’s clear we shouldn’t pretend Ted Cruz is anything more than a sideshow.