Joseph Cotto, 3/8/2016 [Archive]

Self-Interest is Ted Cruz's Only Interest

By Joseph Cotto

Nearly four years ago, the Republican primary runoff for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat was taking place. Texas had a clear choice between two candidates; then-incumbent Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz.

As might go without saying, this race should have concluded long before. Unfortunately, as no candidate managed to secure 50 percent of the vote in the original primary, the contest raged on.

Dewhurst is a man who paved his own way through life. The son of a World War II veteran who was slain by a drunk driver, he initially found success in Houston's financial sector. However, after a market crash during the 1980s, his fortunes turned. Nevertheless, Dewhurst pressed forward and not only regained his stature as a business leader, but was eventually elected Texas's general land commissioner. In 2002, he ran for lieutenant governor and the rest is history.

Ted Cruz, meanwhile, can give a good speech. After the Tea Party craze commenced, he carved a niche among exuberant populists who hardly seem to care about practical governance as much as ideology. He had never been elected to public office, and beyond that, failed to show he is capable of being a sufficient legislator.

With such a non-history, he could say anything that he liked minus a voting record to hold him to his words.

This is not to imply that those who have never held public office should despair of throwing their hats into the ring. Businesspersons, academics, journalists, and the like undeniably should if they believe that they can do a good job. However, the idea of a career lawyer — and one heavily backed by out-of-state donors and special interests — running for the U.S. Senate on little more than rhetoric is, quite simply, absurd.

Dewhurst worked very hard in Austin. He deserved the opportunity to serve his state in Washington, D.C. Hopefully, Texas's Republican primary electorate would afford him nothing less.

These hopes were dashed. Cruz defeated Dewhurst in a landslide. Once again, the rest is history.

It probably seems odd that a man such as myself, who opposes illegal alien amnesty, business-to-business tariff-free international trade, and higher immigration rates generally, would back Dewhurst. After all, he was the Chamber of Commerce's candidate, not to mention the golden boy of Republican politicos on Capitol Hill.

At the same time, Dewhurst was straightforward about his agenda. Unlike Ted, he was primed for compromise and refrained from fostering public appeal tantamount to how a music idol relates with groupies.

When Cruz spoke, he said many of the right things about preventing amnesty, but appeared little different from Dewhurst on trade or legal immigration. Ted's appeal was being an ideological constitutionalist; one who uses hardcore Christianity to enhance his message for certain audiences.

Instinct, often far from the best of guides, led me to believe that Cruz is a man who cares for his own power first and foremost. Rightist politics, constitutional orthodoxy, and Christian theology are merely pawns in his game.

Ted's actions in office have provided my instinct with factual validation. On the Senate floor, he supported legal status for illegal aliens, only to deny it while running for president. He railed against crony capitalism, yet failed to mention a seven-figure signature loan from Goldman Sachs.

He preached limited government, but fraudulently used government data to expose Iowans' caucusing records to neighbors — attempting to shame them into showing up. Cruz championed strict adherence to the Constitution, but balked at this when his lack of natural-born citizenship was raised. He purported to bolster his hardworking countrypeople, but advanced a visa scheme which would undercut American labor.

Cruz is bad news. It does not matter if one hails from the left, right, or center.

Ted says something with fierce conviction, then takes an entirely different action when it benefits his interests. Many politicians have done this for centuries on end. However, with his fanatical devotees, super-sized ego, emotional manipulation skills, and Ivy League lawyer's talent for playing with words, Cruz is uniquely dangerous.

Imagine what he would do in the Oval Office.

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Copyright 2016 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

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