Politics & Policy

The Choice the GOP Needs, If Not the Choice the GOP Likes

In today’s Morning Jolt, I point out that as much as any right-thinking conservative would and should prefer Ted Cruz to Donald Trump, there’s this nagging fear that Cruz won’t be able to beat Trump one-on-one.

I pointed out how few of Cruz’s Senate colleagues endorsed him, and how even like-minded presidential candidates have chosen to endorse other candidates or declined to endorse the Texas senator: Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul. Mike Lee is the first, and so far, only senator to endorse Cruz.

Some Cruz fans wrote in, “the fact that these people don’t like him makes me like him more!” Okay, but not every Republican in the Senate is jealous of Cruz or resents him for being so darn principled. It’s easier to get stuff done if people like you, and for some reason, Cruz stirs genuine antipathy in people who are ideologically inclined to agree with him.

Being able to put other people at ease, to genuinely listen, to demonstrate empathy and win them over are traditional traits of leadership. Cruz is indisputably smart. So why can’t he see his own weaknesses and address them? Why can’t he adjust his way of operating, or try to mend fences with people who should be his natural allies? The fact that there are these increasingly loud calls telling Republicans they need to unite behind Cruz demonstrates how much gravitational resistance there is to uniting behind him.

Trump’s fans insist that because their man has little interest in or grasp of policy details, that criterion doesn’t matter. Cruz fans insist that because their man is about a quart low in charisma and likeability, that criteria doesn’t matter. They’re both wrong. Having said all that, the cloying, know-it-all iconoclast who loves the Constitution is a no-brainer choice compared the thin-skinned, uninformed, big-government authoritarian demagogue.