As Ted Cruz continues to rise in the polls, his critics have become more strident, not to say frantic. Attempts to misrepresent Cruz’s record have failed, one after another, because his record is consistent and unambiguous. This has left his critics with two main complaints. Cruz, they say, is unelectable, and his fellow Republican senators don’t find him a likable fellow.
As to Cruz being unelectable, some of us are old enough to remember hearing something like that before. There was a time when all the voices of the Republican establishment were saying Ronald Reagan was unelectable. President Gerald Ford, Texas Senator John Tower, and nearly all of the Republican Congressional leaders said Reagan was not only unelectable but his presence on the Republican ticket would trigger a Democratic landslide that would sweep many Republicans out of Congress. Columnist George Will wrote that the people who wanted to nominate Reagan were “kamikaze conservatives who thought the 1964 Goldwater campaign was jolly fun.” As the elections of 1980 and 1984 were to show, the claims of Reagan’s unelectability were greatly exaggerated. That does not prove, all by itself, that Cruz will win this year’s election, but it does mean that we should not pay too much attention when we hear the same kind of people making the same charge about him that they did about Reagan.
As for the charge that Cruz is disliked by all his fellow Republican senators, it is partly false and entirely irrelevant. Senators Mike Lee and Jeff Sessions don’t seem to mind Ted Cruz, and it turns out they’ve been almost the only other ones who have consistently stood for the Constitution and conservative principles. The problem, it would seem, is not Cruz’s personality but rather his principles as a champion of the Constitution. He has stated he didn’t run for the U.S. Senate because he needed ninety-nine new friends. He went to Washington to defend the Constitution and represent the people of Texas, and we Texas voters like him just fine.
Curiously, that charge of unlikability is another one that gives some of us a sense of deja vu. In a 1972 private conversation (recorded on audio tapes released in 2003), Richard Nixon said, “Reagan is not one that wears well. . . . Reagan on a personal basis, is terrible. He just isn’t pleasant to be around. . . . He’s just an uncomfortable man to be around. Strange.” This is an amazing statement for Nixon to make about a man who is universally recognized as one of the most pleasant, affable, amiable individuals ever to occupy the Oval Office. Even some of Reagan’s other enemies admitted his amiable nature, even as they tried to pin other ill-founded criticisms on him. Nixon’s complaints about Reagan’s personality are even more amazing because they come from Nixon, who stands out as one of the more personality-challenged presidents in American history. Nixon historian Stanley Kutler has admitted that the thirty-seventh president was “anything but affable. He was surly, vindictive, suspicious.” In fact, Nixon was an establishment Republican who built his career on pretending to be a staunch conservative. He was nothing of the sort. We have a few like that running around nowadays too.
Now, the point of this post is not to prove Ted Cruz is electable or likable, although I suspect he is both. Rather the point is to show that we ought not to pay attention when the same kind of people raise the same kind of complaints about Cruz that they raised against Reagan and that we now know were laughably false about Reagan. This is the kind of thing the Washington Cartel always says when the good people of this country try to elect someone who will actually represent them rather than tamely casting their ballots for another establishment hack who will play nicely with the Washington Cartel. We ought to pay no attention to them and go right ahead and elect a conservative constitutionalist–like Ted Cruz.