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Ted Cruz, Traitor to his Class
He tramples on the Left’s assumption that conservatives are stupid.


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Rich Lowry

Henry Adams said that politics is the systematic organization of hatreds. For the Left in the past year, it has seemed at times to be the systematic organization of hatred of Ted Cruz.

The freshman senator is not the first Texan to be so honored. In fact, the state isn’t holding up its end if, at any given moment, it isn’t throwing onto the national scene at least one Republican reviled by the other side.

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The party’s highest-profile Texans, George W. Bush and Rick Perry, tended to match inarticulateness with cowboy swagger and lend themselves to mockery as intellectual lightweights. Bush went to Yale and Harvard Business School, yet no one naturally thinks of him as an Ivy Leaguer. The two Lone Star State governors played into the Left’s stereotypes so nicely that if they didn’t exist, the New York Times editorial board would have had to invent them.

Cruz is different — a Princeton and Harvard man who not only matriculated at those fine institutions but excelled at them. Champion debater at Princeton. Magna cum laude graduate at Harvard. Supreme Court clerkship, on the way to Texas solicitor general and dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cruz is from the intellectual elite, but not of it, a tea-party conservative whose politics are considered gauche at best at the storied universities where he studied. He is, to borrow the words of the 2008 H.W. Brands biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a traitor to his class.

Democrats and liberal pundits would surely dislike Cruz no matter where he went to school, but his pedigree adds an element of shocked disbelief to the disdain. “Princeton and Harvard should be disgraced,” former Pennsylvania governor 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. Princeton and Harvard aren’t quite the École Nationale d’Administration, the French school that trains that country’s political class, but they are close.

In a Washington Post column a year ago, Dana Milbank noted Cruz’s schooling and concluded that his tea-party politics must be a put-on, that he is, underneath it all, an “intellectually curious, liberal-arts conservative.” Note the insulting assumption that an interest in books and ideas immunizes someone from a certain kind of conservative politics.

One of the Left’s deepest prejudices is that its opponents are stupid, and Cruz tramples on it. 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. At another hearing, as Cruz says that the highest commitment of senators should be to the Constitution, another senator can be heard muttering that he doesn’t like being lectured. Chairman Pat Leahy (probably the mutterer) eventually cuts him off and informs him he hasn’t been in the Senate very long.

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.

None of this is to endorse all of Cruz’s tactical judgments or to deny that he can irk his own side at times. His push to defund Obamacare this fall is a grass-roots-pleasing slogan in search of a realistic path to legislative fruition.

It is no secret that Cruz has presidential aspirations. Even if he ascends no higher, though, he will be a force in the Senate. He could spend decades making liberals recoil at what the Ivy League hath wrought.

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He is also the author of the recently released book Lincoln Unbound. He can be reached via e-mail: [email protected]. © 2013 King Features Syndicate


Crazy About Ted Cruz
People just can’t stop talking about Ted Cruz — especially if they have nothing nice to say. As buzz grows about a possible 2016 presidential bid for the freshman Texas senator, media attempts to paint him in a negative light are flying fast and furiously.
Cruz’s tea-party credentials certainly don’t endear him to liberal pundits. And his Ivy League education — which did not produce the more common left-of-center worldview in Cruz — also seems to rankle many commentators.
Some of the criticism aimed at Cruz is borderline unhinged. Tina Brown compares him to the Taliban. To Steve Rattner, he is “just Sarah Palin with a brain.” And as far as Bill Richardson is concerned, Cruz isn’t even a real Hispanic.
MSNBC host Chris Matthews has probably been most fixated on Cruz, describing him as a “political terrorist” with a “black Irish look” and echoes of Joe McCarthy and Nazi sympathizer Father Charles Coughlin.
Bill Maher warns of Cruz: “He’s got New Gingrich’s ambition and ego mixed with the steely-eyed focus of a serial killer.”
The issue of Cruz’s eligibility to run for president has also surfaced. Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother, and Cruz — along with most constitutional experts — says that this qualifies him as a natural-born American citizen. Quipped Politico’s Roger Simon: “If Ted Cruz is really a Canadian, we are building a fence on the wrong border.”
NON-SCANDALPALOOZA: The partisan rush to find a scandal or otherwise discredit Cruz has already prompted mocking on social media. The Twitter hashtag #TedCruzScandals mocks the whole enterprise with some suggested “controversies” for the media to explore.
@HarrietBaldwin: “Media says he’s a White Hispanic”
@notyourkimmy: “He’s too ‘rah rah American’”
@HarrietBaldwin: “He has binders full of Constitutions from the @Heritage Foundation.”
@PruPaine: “Wears a paisley tie, in full view of women”
@fitzfam2000: “Was once rumored to wear Crocs!”
@gopfirecracker: “Will only speak in 50 of the 57 states. Hatemonger.”
@JeffHGreen: “He mocked Harry Reid on the senate floor (and you don’t mock the devil.)”
@toddtalk: “He went to Harvard and Princeton and didn’t become a Liberal.”
@TPGee: “Operating under the disturbing delusion that #Benghazi was not caused by a video on youtube”
@woot6: “Knows where he was the night of #Benghazi”
@talkradio200: “He didn’t push Hosni Mubarak out of Egypt to pave the way for the Muslim Brotherhood”
@aleykhat: “Steadfastly refuses to bow to any monarch.”
@woot6: “Forms coherent sentences sans TOTUS”
@CounterMoonbat: “He has a secret stockpile of incandescent light bulbs.”
@amcynic: “Doesn’t know the words to ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’”
@emcee100: “Several of his college classmates actually remember seeing him show up for class.”
@ag_texas: “He hasn‘t sealed his college transcripts. Oh the nerve of that man!”
@4thrightfool: “He once called a saltine a cracker”
@dotto22: “He‘s never called people who disagree with him racist.”
@dustbury: “Once DVRed a doubleheader without the express written consent of Major League Baseball.”
@GPollowitz: “He prefers the Canadian spelling, ‘whisky’”
@YoungCons: “He once drank milk...straight from the carton!”
@nicolejpearce: “He puts maple syrup on his Blue Bell.”
@TPGee: “Ted Cruz once made a face at his 1st grade teacher.”
@talkradio200: “He’s Penelope’s long lost brother”
IMAGE CONTROL: Cruz has taken his share of lumps from the Internet’s Photoshop commentariat, mostly riffing on his (media-fed) reputation as a modern-day McCarthy. But the senator has his defenders there as well. Here’s a sample.
Updated: Aug. 23, 2013

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