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The Throwback Candidate

Opinion: Ted Cruz is the audacious, trash-talking, populist-style conservative the anti-government crowd has been praying for.



Given what we’ve endured with the cultish adoration of conservative darlings such as Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Grover Norquist, Andrew Breitbart, Michele Bachmann, Jim DeMint, Christine “I’m not a witch” O’Donnell, Wayne LaPierre and so forth, Sen. Ted Cruz — “presidential hopeful” — had become Mr. Inevitable by the spring.

Some observers might look at opinion polls and ask, “Who cares?” But Cruz’s potential isn’t being measured by those polls. That’s because as other candidates emerge, he isn’t going to permit anybody to outflank him on the right. More important, he’s much better at speaking spontaneously than any of his likely Republican opponents. His 4-percent approval rating is going to climb. Cruz is the audacious, trash-talking, populist-style conservative the anti-government crowd has been praying for.

Clearly, Cruz heard the call. Just as clearly, the junior senator from Texas had his eyes on competing for the prize since arriving in Washington two years and two months ago.

Cruz made news on March 23 at Liberty University by becoming the first Republican to throw his hat into the ring. At times, he sounded like a televangelist addressing a congregation. He comes by it naturally. His father, Rafael Cruz, is the director of a charismatic ministry in Carrollton, Texas. It’s called the Purifying Fire International and Rafael likes to use his pulpit to say his son has been “anointed.”

We can thank another preacher, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, for establishing Liberty University in Lynchburg in 1971. It’s now said to be the largest Christian university in the solar system. In the 1980s, Falwell led the Moral Majority — a national conservative organization that foreshadowed the tea party.

In short, Cruz intends to gather all of the tea party’s blustery momentum in his sails. With his announcement on Falwell turf in Virginia, he’s started by inviting the most active Christian conservatives to his camp. Next, his backers need to sell their anointed one to the other tea party factions because it’s the only realistic chance they’ll have to stave off yet another Republican nominee from what Cruz likes to call the “mushy middle.”

Across the aisle, no doubt some Democrats will see Cruz as the easiest Republican for their nominee to beat. Easier than Jeb Bush, Scott Walker or Rand Paul. Team Donkey might heehaw with glee at the notion of Cruz having negative coattails facing Hillary Clinton. After all, speaking of inevitability, without something unexpected going dreadfully wrong, it’s difficult to imagine Cruz beating Clinton.

So should Democrats cross over and help Cruz in primaries and in other ways?

No way! Liberals shouldn’t be duped into advancing the career of a reckless egotist who’s cheerful about stoking the embers of old hates. A Cruz candidacy won’t help ease any pain, or solve any problems. It isn’t even likely to sharpen legitimate Republican arguments for exercising fiscal restraint and protecting Americans from terrorists.

Yes, somebody has to be the most visible enemy of modernity, even if he or she can’t win a major party’s nomination. And Cruz seems more than ready for that role. Unfortunately, the bigger worry about Rafael Cruz’s ambitious son is that he’s also a determined enemy of justice and peace.

The bomb-throwing role that Cruz seems poised to play as a candidate promises to command quite an audience for the Republican debates coming up. While he forces the other hopefuls onstage to move further to the right, Cruz has the audacity that’s bound to goose the television ratings. More than anything else, including the nomination, what Cruz may most want is to become top dog of what amounts to the American Throwback Party.

Speaking of throwbacks, longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie put out an endorsement of Cruz shortly after the senator’s speech in Lynchburg concluded. Viguerie, the conservative direct-mail guru of the previous millennium, is chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, based in Manassas.

Via email, Viguerie touted Cruz’s ability to unite conservatives: “[Cruz could bring together] all three elements of the old Reagan coalition; national defense conservatives, economic conservatives and social conservatives with the new fourth leg of the 21st century’s winning conservative coalition — the constitutional conservatives of the Tea Party movement. Others, such as Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal and Rand Paul may have some appeal to elements of that coalition, but no one unites it the way Ted Cruz does.”

After mentioning Cruz’s “zest for the battle of ideas,” Viguerie concluded with this: The “tremor you felt at midday was the shiver in the D.C. establishment as millions of conservatives across America respond to Ted Cruz and said in unison, we’ve found our leader and ‘We demand our Liberty.’”

Speaking of audacity, Cruz led a movement that shut down the federal government in October 2013. It lasted 16 days and accomplished nothing. Afterward he smiled, winked and said he had nothing to do with it. Thus, Cruz will be happy to prevaricate with a “zest” that should set him apart from other hopefuls.

Last prediction: Upon failing to win the nomination, the Throwbacks’ bluster will runneth over. With Cruz leading the flock, he will threaten to walk out of the GOP convention in Cleveland. What ransom will the anointed one demand? Stay tuned. ... S

F.T. Rea is an artist and writer who lives in the Fan District.

Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.


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