…and therefore has set out to destroy him.
Cruz is their worst nightmare: a brainy and fearless conservative with impeccable intellectual Ivy League credentials and minority ethnicity to boot. But they feel fully up to the task of turning him into a villain and a loser in the eyes of the public, and perhaps they will succeed.
Sarah Palin frightened the left as well. But her accent, mannerisms, populist hobbies, idiosyncratic and somewhat convoluted syntax, evangelical Christianity, and lack of academic stardom provided much ready-made grist for their mills. Cruz is a contrast: a champion debater as a student, a Princeton graduate and Harvard-educated lawyer (Obama’s alma mater, of course) whose law student career Alan Dershowitz has said was “off-the-charts brilliant.”
And Cruz is not only a Republican but a conservative’s conservative who understands the philosophical underpinnings of the movement, and did so quite early in his life:
Cruz’s senior thesis on the separation of powers, titled “Clipping the Wings of Angels,” draws its inspiration from a passage attributed to President James Madison: “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
As if more were needed, Cruz was a primary editor of the Harvard Law Review and a founding editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review.
Unlike a great many Republicans (but much like Sarah Palin), Cruz is unafraid to take unpopular positions and be aggressive in opposing Democrats’ liberal platform. This has caused someone like former auto-bailout head Steven Rattner to tweet, “Ted Cruz is just Sarah Palin with a brain.”
The “just” is obligatory (as is the Palin-bashing), but it’s hard not to conclude that the prospect is somewhat daunting to the left. They are seeking Cruz’s soft underbelly (their birther spurt being the most recent example) and will not rest until they find it and neuter him politically. Here’s what especially riles them:
Democrats and liberal pundits would surely dislike Cruz no matter where he went to school, but his pedigree adds an extra element of shocked disbelief to the disdain. “Princeton and Harvard should be disgraced,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell exclaimed on MSNBC, as if graduating a constitutionalist conservative who rises to national prominence is a violation of the schools’ mission statements.
It almost is…
One of the left’s deepest prejudices is that its opponents are stupid, and Cruz tramples on it. Chris Hayes of MSNBC actually says he fears Cruz’s brilliance. So should congressional witnesses. At hearings, Cruz has the prosecutorial instincts of a … Harvard-trained lawyer. Watching Attorney General Eric Holder try to fend off Cruz’s questioning on the administration’s drone policy a few months ago was like seeing a mouse cornered by a very large cat.
Cruz hasn’t played by the Senate rules that freshmen should initially be seen and not heard. In fact, he joined the upper chamber with all the subtlety of a SWAT team knocking down a drug suspect’s front door.
For people who care about such things — almost all of them are senators — this is an unforgivable offense…
Cruz lacks all defensiveness about his positions, another source of annoyance to his opponents, who are used to donning the mantle of both intellectual and moral superiority.
Although Cruz’s style and presentation are very different from that of William F. Buckley, he confounds liberals in much the same way; even those liberals who say conservatives are stupid could not deny Buckley’s braininess. But Buckley was not a politician (although he once ran for NYC mayor, he didn’t expect to win), and Cruz is most definitely a politician with aspirations to higher office.
I wish him luck; he’ll need it.