Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Long Game of Candidate Cruz and the Untameable Senator

@UWedge: "If you know you're going to lose then fighting is just theatre."

Have you noticed? A huge gap has opened up in the Republican nomination race. No, not Trump and the rest of the field in national polls. The gap between candidate and Senator Ted Cruz.

In the Republican field Cruz has been last and least in offering up any criticism of Donald Trump. As has been widely noted he’s playing a long game which recognizes that he is the second choice for Trump supporters. So the strategy is obvious, be patient, let the others take on Trump and bring him down, and then be there for his supporters on the rebound.

What I haven’t seen is anyone pointing to the dilemma implicit in this strategy. Cruz the presidential candidate opens up a different, and highly unflattering, perspective on Cruz the Senator. Put simply, Cruz the candidate can’t be squared with Cruz the Senator and the reason for candidate Cruz is Senator Cruz.

Cruz is popular with conservatives because he gave them in the Senate what they longed for. Not victories—he really doesn’t have any—but risk taking. As Senator he embodies what the base wants. The cause! The cause! and damn the consequences! That is his motto. He is the nothing ventured, nothing gained rebuke to Mitch McConnell who has a habit of infuriating conservatives with his McClellan like, maybe after the next election when we’re stronger, approach to politics.

The ever prudent, bide your time Cruz is now asking us to question just what Senator Cruz was up to. It doesn’t look like the exuberance of the conviction politician so much as advertisements for Ted Cruz. It raises the question who was less sincere, Marlon Brando playing Johnny Strabler in The Wild One, or Ted Cruz playing Ted Cruz. I had doubts about Cruz as president before, I have bigger doubts now.

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