WASHINGTON – In the eyes of the political and media elite, presidential candidate Ted Cruz is far too extreme ideologically to win the nomination; doesn’t have enough support from party bigwigs; is hated by almost everyone and no one trusts him; uses distortive, misleading rhetoric; is venal and self-obsessed; says crazy things; is not actually very smart; and is everything that is wrong with modern politics.
In the eyes of the political and media elite, Ronald Reagan was too extreme and too simple to win the presidential nomination; a potential disaster for the GOP in the general election; an amiable dunce who was shockingly dumb and cruel; an evil man with no care and no concern for working-class Americans and future generations; cold and mean with ice water for blood; and an egotistical bore who had no friends, only cronies.
See any resemblance?
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, hasn’t been popular with either establishment Washington or the establishment media ever since his election to the Senate in 2012, but reaction to his announcement last week that he is running for president appears to have put the criticism into overdrive.
No Republican, arguably, has received such intense condemnation since Reagan.
And many of the criticisms seem remarkably similar.
Former Reagan presidential aide Jeffrey Lord told WND, “What’s being said about Ted Cruz today was said endlessly by establishment Republicans about Ronald Reagan.”
“They were wrong then; they are wrong now,” added the associate political director in the Reagan White House.
One of the biggest criticisms has been that Cruz has so little support among those GOP elite.
According to the New York Times, Cruz is “a long shot, at best” to win the Republican nomination because:
“Political scientists argue that the single most important determinant of the outcome of the nomination is support from party elites: those operatives who can staff a winning campaign; the donors who fund it; the elected officials and interest group leaders who bestow the credibility necessary to persuade voters and affect media coverage.”
Cruz has argued the most important factor is actually votes, not support from the party elite.
WND reported in February that Cruz described how establishment Washington hated Reagan as a candidate and how he went over the heads of GOP elite and took his case straight to the people, from where his real power came.
Cruz even sees his outsider status as an asset, telling CNN over the weekend, “I’ll point out there’s almost an inverse relationship between being liked and appreciated in Washington, D.C., and reviled back home, and being reviled in Washington and appreciated back home.”
The four categories in which Cruz is receiving criticism similar to that which was directed at Reagan involve questions about their:
- D.C. popularity
- Foreign Policy : “The most hated man in the Senate … Ted Cruz has been, for all practical purposes, the human equivalent of one of those flower-squirters that clowns wear on their lapels.”
- New York Times: “Mr. Cruz has done nothing to endear himself to the elites. He won the party’s nomination for the Senate by defeating David Dewhurst, an establishment favorite and the sitting lieutenant governor of Texas.”
- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.: “It’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.”
- FiveThirtyEight: “Let’s be serious about Ted Cruz from the start: He’s too extreme and too disliked to win.”
- New York Times: “(Former president) Ford has frequently criticized Mr. Reagan for extreme and too-simple views.”
- Henry Kissinger: “When you meet Reagan, you wonder: How did it ever occur to anyone that he should be governor, much less president?”
- Christopher Hitchens: “A cruel and stupid lizard.”
- Lesley Stahl: “I predict historians are going to be totally baffled by how the American people fell in love with this man.”
- Kevin Phillips: “It was foolish to think that Reagan could solve the nation’s economic problems with policies based on ‘maxims out of McGuffey’s Reader and Calvin Coolidge.’”
- New York Times: “[T]he stench of failure hangs over Ronald Reagan’s White House.”
- Kathleen Parker: “He’s obviously not going to win the presidency, OK? That’s not going to happen, we know that. He is an actor who acts alone. He gives maverick a bad name.”
- New York Times: “The most interesting question about Mr. Cruz’s candidacy is whether he has a very small chance to win or no chance at all.”
- Salon: “Ted Cruz doesn’t have a prayer … stands no chance at actually winning an election.”
- FiveThirtyEight: “Cruz doesn’t have enough support from party bigwigs.”
- Salon: “He’s not going to win, largely because almost everyone hates him and no one trusts him.”
- FiveThirtyEight: “Cruz almost certainly has no shot of winning the nomination, according to every indicator that predicts success in presidential primaries. … Cruz is likely far too extreme ideologically to win the nomination.”
- Michael Brendan Dougherty : “There is nothing about Cruz that appeals to people beyond his political sect … This isn’t a campaign: It’s a political fantasy and infomercial.”
- Former President Gerald Ford: “[W]e don’t want, can’t afford to have a replay of 1964 … A very conservative Republican can’t win in a national election.”
- Former Sen. Chuck Percy, R-Ill.: “A Reagan nomination and the crushing defeat likely to follow could signal the beginning of the end of our party as an effective force in American life.”
- Former Rep. Pete McCloskey, R-Calif.: “A Reagan win would be a disaster for the GOP.”
- Former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller: “No major American party can long endure by directing its appeal to a narrow minority. It will not serve the nation to have our major parties polarized at ideological extremes.”
- Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif.: “That man betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of the existing scientific data. It’s shocking and I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office.”
- Salon: “The ‘Ted Cruz is smart’ trap: Why this garbage is false – and dangerous. The Texas senator convinces all of his enemies to praise his intellect. Here’s why they’re wrong – and should stop … Cruz has become notorious for using distortive, misleading rhetoric that no sober-minded individual could apply … He has alienated all of his colleagues, and wants to revive the gay marriage fight at a time when it couldn’t be more unwise … One whose mind is clamped shut cannot be intelligent, and yet Ted Cruz does not in his life ever seem to have taken on board a single challenge to his worldview … consistent overgenerous assessment of Cruz’s brains … The man is arrogant, but he doesn’t actually seem very smart.”
- Clark Clifford: “An amiable dunce.”
- The Chicago Tribune: (His) “air-headed rhetoric on the issues of foreign policy and arms control have reached the limits of tolerance and have become an embarrassment to the U.S. and a danger to world peace.”
- David Broder: “[T]he desert between Ronald Reagan’s ears.”
- Jimmy Breslin: “Senile” and “shockingly dumb.”
- Former House Speaker Tip O’ Neill, D-Mass.: Reagan’s mind was “an absolute and total disgrace,” and it was “sinful that this man is president of the United States.”
- John Osborne: “Ronald Reagan is an ignoramus.”
- Rep. John Rhodes, R-Ariz.: “As soon as Reagan gets away from his clichés and his campaign slogans, he’s in trouble.”
- Christopher Hitchens: “He was as dumb as a stump.”
- Nomiki Konst, The Accountability Project: “Ted Cruz is a flashback to the medieval times. This is a man who is empowering rapists, essentially … He is so hypocritical in some many different ways, I think he is just trying to appeal to the base.”
- Talking Points Memo: “Arrogant a–hole, super smart … An incredibly bright guy who’s an arrogant jerk who basically everybody ends up hating.”
- The Week: “[H]e’s so venal and self-obsessed that he’ll use genocide victims as punching bags for a domestic audience.”
- Salon:”[A] showboat … Googling ‘Ted Cruz lies’ pulls back an astonishing 7,890,000 results, and on Twitter, the two phrases are basically synonymous … (If not a liar) it would mean that Cruz is shockingly delusional … Cruz is actually very much a part of the financial corruption in the Beltway that Americans find so repugnant … Cruz’s penchant for bloated duplicity … a politician as dishonest and entrenched in establishment ways as any other … he is just as much a huckster as the rest of them … Cruz embodies everything that is wrong with modern politics.”
- Foreign Policy: “He’s ideological, even compulsive, with regard to the Constitution … Cruz’s preoccupation with principles began early … he might come across as too wonkish and too aggressive to connect with voters … ‘Belligerent egghead’ has rarely been a winning brand in presidential politics.”
- Salon: “[A] highly intelligent person who says crazy things because he knows what the tea party and other hardline conservatives like to hear … a cynical opportunist who will use anything – terrorists, diseases, hackers – to make political points that rile up the conservative faithful.”
- Chris Matthews: “He’s so much like Joe McCarthy in the way he makes his indictments, the way he sweats and makes these arguments … this plan by the new Joe McCarthy which is always to blame the government as lawless … demagoguery is not a good career choice.”
- Former House Speaker Tip O’ Neill, D-Mass: “[T]he evil is on the White House at the present time. And that evil is a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations of America, and who likes to ride a horse. He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood.”
- The Nation: “He is the most dangerous person ever to come this close to the presidency” and “a menace to the human race.”
- Eleanor Clift: “Greed in this this country is associated with Ronald Reagan.”
- Sarah McClendon: “It will take a hundred years to get the government back into place after Ronald Reagan. He hurt people: the disabled, women, nursing mothers, the homeless.”
- John Huston: A “bore” with a “low order of intelligence” and “egotistical.”
- Christopher Hitchens: “He had no friends, only cronies.”
Despite all that, Cruz already may be on his way to getting the last laugh, as did Reagan.
On March 23, the first day of his candidacy, Cruz raised $1 million. He then doubled his fundraising goal in his first week.
If that money is coming from the grassroots, his campaign may be catching fire, as did Reagan’s in 1980. If it is coming from the elites, they may be coming around to his side, as they did after Reagan showed his vote-getting power.
The fiery Texan also may not be as unpopular with his colleagues as the media would suggest.
Cruz has steadfastly adhered to Reagan’s “11th Commandment” and not spoken ill of fellow Republicans, even those who have attacked him.
And it just might be paying off.
Just before the Texan announced his candidacy, CNN quoted McCain as saying of Cruz: “He is a valued member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He and I are friendly, and I think he is a very viable candidate.”
McCain also suggested Cruz could beat Hillary Clinton and win the presidency in 2016.
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth