Friday, February 22, 2013

The Hackdom of Ted Cruz

The New Yorker had a great piece by Jane Mayer about how Ted Cruz, the freshmen GOP Senator from Texas, has declined from once the hope of the conservative movement to a pathetic hack who infuriates members of his own caucus and acts like Joe McCarthy.  Mayer points out that some of Cruz's rhetoric makes Rush Limbaugh look reasonable by saying thing like, “[President Obama] would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.” because:
There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists!  There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.
Mayer called up Reagan's former solicitor general Charles Fried whose now a faculty member at Harvard who quickly points out that its just not true, the are several Republicans on the faculty and no "Communists overthrowing the United States government."  That's text book McCarthyism right there.

This raises the why someone who is supposedly a smart person would resort to these kinds of tactics.  Jonathan Bernstein at A Plain Blog About Politics speculates it's all about the incentives in the modern GOP.  That is, this type of over the top rhetoric will get you on Fox News and other conservative outlets which will raise your profile which is crucial for all sorts of elaborate money making schemes.  I completely agree but I do think another factor might be in play.  Saying inflammatory things on TV is really easy compared to say, crafting legislation that will work well and will get out of committee and get through the 60 vote Senate and get through the House and can have any difference between the bills ironed out in conference committee and not get vetoed by the President.  That process, called the legislative process, is a lot harder than yelling, because yelling and calling people names is easy.  So is Ted trying to pump up his profile and/or get a seat on the Koch brothers gravy train?  Probably.  But it's also possible that this man is just a lazy lout who would rather rest of the laurels of calling the President a communist than try and be a good Senator.

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