Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ted Cruz, Railsplitter

The biggest applause line for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speech on March 23, 2015 at Liberty University was his actual announcement that he would run for President of the United States. The second biggest applause line was this:
Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel.
Yep, those conservative Christian students at Liberty University stand with Israel.

And the speech also hit the other standard conservative applause lines: to "stand up and defeat radical Islamic terrorism," to repeal "every word of Obamacare," to repeal "every word of Common Core." And the flat tax, and abolish the IRS.

But the speech was really about introducing Ted Cruz as an American everyman, with both parents from humble origins, with a mother the first in her Irish Catholic family to go to college and become a computer programmer in the 1950s, with an alcoholic father that nearly abandoned his family but for Jesus, with Ted going to college and working two jobs when his father's business cratered into bankruptcy during the 1980s oil price crash. And then there's his wife Heidi starting a business "in grade school" baking bread for folks working in the apple orchards. Can you say "not Bush" and "not Clinton?"

The conservative response to Ted Cruz's speech have seemed a little jaded, and the liberals, of course, want to define him already as the Second Coming of Joe McCarthy. But my take was that this was a carefully constructed strategic speech, your basic born-in-a-log-cabin, man-of-the-people, hope-and-change speech. Of course it was.

Cruz openly appealed to conservative Christians.
Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.
And of course he appealed to the rest of the conservative coalition with applause lines on liberty, the Second Amendment, abortion, and a message of hope for middle-class strivers with small businesses growing and prospering and "young people coming out of school with four, five, six job offers."

Obviously the speech was pitched at the conservative base, but Cruz left a wide opening to move to the center.

And one other thing. The left likes to paint Ted Cruz as a mad bomber. Hey, the GOP establishment likes to do the same. But Cruz is cool, medium cool. The problem with advertising him as a mad bomber is that, when voters get to see him on TV, they will experience a disconnect. They will wonder what's so bad about such a mild-mannered candidate.

There was nothing wild or extreme in Ted Cruz's announcement speech. Just standard conservative boilerplate that puts him in the mainstream of conservative politics. The only people likely to be annoyed would be liberals.

One other thing: Ted's elder daughter Caroline. She high-fived some of the audience as the Cruz family moved around the stage after the speech. Can anyone spell P-O-L-I-T-I-C-I-A-N?

Ted Cruz did say a lot of things that liberals think nobody should be allowed to say in America.  But apart from gentry liberals, who would have a problem with that?

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