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Running on Cruz Control

Texas’ Sen. Ted Cruz has officially entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and we’re glad of it. He’s a smart fellow and solid conservative who deserves his party’s consideration, and it will be fun watching the ensuing hysteria on the left.
The howling commenced immediately after Cruz launched his campaign Monday with a speech delivered at Liberty University and clearly aimed at the party’s conservative base. Just the choice of venue was enough to rile the left, as Liberty University is an unapologetically evangelical school founded by the late Moral Majority founder and left-wing boogyman Jerry Falwell, and is full of the kind of clean-cut and well-groomed and chaste young people who give the left the willies, and is even located in a town with the scary-sounding name of Lynchburg, Virginia, but all the talk about repealing Obamacare and restoring constitutional limits on government and balancing budgets was was like fingernails scraping across a blackboard to leftist ears, and when Cruz through in some talk about abortion and same-sex marriage and God it became all the more painful. “Tweets” immediately twittered across the internet from outraged listeners, most with the usual snarky but unspecific complaints about what a “moron” and “joke” and “wack job” Cruz is, the lattermost with a row of exclamation marks to emphasize its misspelled assertion of intellectual superiority, and yet they also seemed to fear that Cruz is also a diabolical genius. There’s already much talk about Cruz having been born in Canada, and we can’t tell if this is meant as a sarcastic payback for the questions that a small group of people raised about President Barack Obama’s place of birth or is a serious effort to have Cruz declared ineligible for the president, but in either case it demonstrates Cruz’s unhinging effect on liberals.
This only further endears Cruz to the conservative primary voters that he’s courting, though, and it made the praise for Cruz’s speech all the more effusive. Cruz is already well respected by conservatives for his willingness to take political risks for his beliefs, such as his leading role in the “government shutdown” of a while back in a noble but failed to effort to get Obamacare repealed, which is also why he is more despised by the left than the average Republican politician. To whatever extent Cruz becomes the favorite of his party’s conservative base he will be even more vehemently opposed by the liberal base of the opposition party, so his fortunes will ultimately be determined by all those folks in the middle. Much of the media will be happy to inform those largely uninformed voters that Cruz is a fire-breathing right-wing radical who will dismantle the government and force women into back alley abortions and conduct a foreign policy without proper respect for the touchier Islamic sensibilities, but Cruz can count on the support talk radio and other far-reaching conservative media, and it won’t be easy for the opposition to caricature him.
The “moron” stuff will quickly fade as the public comes to Cruz, who was graduated from Princeton and then Harvard Law School, where liberal Prof. Alan Dershowitz regarded him as his most brilliant student, so the diabolical genius angle will probably take over, but the birth certificate stuff will just give Cruz a chance to recount his heartwarming and humanizing family history as the son of a Cuban refugee. Nor is Cruz’s staunch conservatism so far out of the mainstream to be considered “wack job.” Repealing Obamacare and abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and the “Common Core” takeover of local education are not ideas that will strike a vast majority of Americans as radical, and the public might even be in the mood for a little more governmental dismantling. Cruz’s blunt talk about social issues will strike many as old-fashioned and self-righteous, but when the Democrats are increasingly perceived as the party of transgenderism and forcing bakers to make cakes for same-sex weddings and a general distaste for anything religious, it’s hard to say which party that vast middle now considers out of the mainstream. Nor does the public seem to share the exquisite sensitivity to the touchier Islamic sensibilities of the current administration or any likely Democratic successor, so unless Cruz makes some very bellicose blunder he should enjoy the same advantage on foreign policy as any Republican nominee.
The Republicans will have other candidates who deserve consideration, though, and even Cruz’s admirers might find others a preferable candidate. Some have executive experience to go along with their own acts of political bravery, and there’s a case to be made that’s preferable to one term in the Senate now mater how distinguished it might have been. Some have their own heartwarming and human family histories, too, and more likable personas to go along with them. A few have also been vilified with the same vehemence by the left, which always endears a candidate to the right, and it was often because of the things they succeeded in doing. Cruz strikes us as far superior to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum or any of the other candidates who might be making the same pitch for cultural conservatism, and the intellectual equal of any of his gubernatorial rivals, and the least establishment of any the congressional contenders, so we consider him a viable possibility to win it all. It’s going to be a long contest, though, and the field is strong, and Cruz might have weaknesses that have not yet revealed themselves, but we will be watching.
If nothing else, the hysteria on the left should prove amusing.

— Bud Norman

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The Presidential Races and the Growing Realizations

The big newspapers are already full of stories about the ’16 presidential race, and even at this all-too-early point it often makes for interesting reading. There are the inevitable second thoughts about the inevitability of Hillary Clinton’s nomination, some comic relief from Vice President Joe Biden, and even a budding realization that the Republican contest isn’t shaping up according to the conventional inside-the-Beltway wisdom.
Clinton has been deafeningly silent lately, so there’s not been much to report about her except for the polls showing her trailing undeclared candidate Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in both Iowa and New Hampshire, which does not serve the favored press narrative about inevitability. Warren is a darling of the left wing activists who play an outsized role in the Democratic nominating process, just as Iowa and New Hampshire do, but is little-known outside those circles, so the results are not encouraging for the better-known and far better-funded and better-organized Clinton. The conventional inside-the-Beltway wisdom that name recognition and money and organization will ultimately prevail often proves true, but when such formidable advantages can’t gain an early lead in the early elimination round states against such a fake Indian and even faker left-wing populist of a first-term Senator such as Warren it seems a harbinger of an exception to the rule. The scrutiny that would follow the announcement of a Warren candidacy might well do her in, since even the friendliest media will be obliged to explain the whole fake-Indian scam and her more extreme soak-the-rich rhetoric and her general left-wing kookiness, and the media more friendly to Clinton will be most eager to pile on, but those left-wing activists are clearly unenthused about Clinton and likely to find some other darling to rally around.
He almost certainly won’t be Vice President Joe Biden, as even the loyal scribes of the Associated Press can now see. Biden seems to have no money, no organization, and even after six years of being Vice President of the United States he has little name recognition. If not for being so unfamiliar to the public Biden would be an even more unlikely nominee, as his prolific gaffes would be the popular catchphrases of the day if he were Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin or any other Republican. Biden’s latest gift to the late night comedians was giving a shout-out during a speech to his “butt buddy,” a vulgarism usually understood as describing a homosexual partner, but he can be grateful that won’t be so widely discussed as a misspelling of “potato” or an entirely fictional remark about seeing Russia from his house. No one ever became president by having the press politely ignore him, though, and Biden is unlikely to prove an exception to that rule.
The big newspapers retain an inordinate interest in former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his inside-the-Beltway rivals, especially former protege and potential rival Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, but they’re slowly wising up to the probability that the Republican race winner will come from far outside the Beltway. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the darling of the right-wing activists who play an inordinate role in selection the Republican nominee, he’s leading the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, which play that same crucial role in the GOP’s nominating process, and he’s also the favorites of the Republicans who showed up at the party’s annual Kansas Day gathering, who are about are about as Republican as Republicans get, and he’s even got some money and a growing organization, and after three elections and six years of relentless attacks by the labor movement and the Democratic establishment and its media allies he’s even got some name recognition. His prominence in the race is such that The Washington Post felt obliged to run one of its quadrennial back-to-schooldays hit pieces.
The Post’s effort will have little effect on Walker’s chances, we suspect. There are none of the hazing stories that were attributed by the paper last time around to Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and even some quotes from loyal friends who recall that they wouldn’t even let the well-behaved Walker in on their more harmless college pranks, as well as tales of his countless kindnesses to a particularly accident-prone friend, but there is the shocking revelation that the remarkably successful two-term governor was frequently late and largely uninterested in his French classes and remains 36 credit hour short of a college degree. The paper portrays this as a great mystery, and chose to run the story at a time when Walker was overseas on a trade mission and conveniently unavailable to provide the solution, but still leaves open the possibility that he simply chose to begin what has turned out to be an exemplary career in public service rather than pay for another 36 hours of over-priced college education. This will seem a disqualifying failure to the sorts of people who are impressed by Elizabeth Warren’s former post on the Harvard University faculty, but we expect the rest of the country will not find it a matter of concern.
Ivy League credentials are not always sufficient for the presidency, as the last four administrations and numerous previous ones demonstrate, and autodidacts such as Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman have occasionally distinguished themselves in the office. The story might even further endear Walker to a country largely populated by people who do to have Ivy League diplomas, and inoculate him against the usual charges of elitism and privilege that are invariably made against the Republicans who hod tony degrees. The Post story also reveals that Walker is the son of a Baptist minister who chose to attend a Catholic university, inadvertently burnishing his ecumenical reputation with the Republican party’s religious wing, and will not convince anyone that Walker does not possess a serious intellect. We note elsewhere that Walker has proposed legislation that would permit people in the state’s higher education system to gain credits for life experience, and most people who have experienced both college and real life will agree that the benefits that Walker has brought the state after many years in public office should surely be equivalent to 36 hours of university lecturing.
This is far too early to make any predictions, of course, as the press should have figured out by now, but will venture to say that conventional inside-the-Beltway wisdom should not be trusted.

— Bud Norman