Joe Gandelman, 4/9/2015 [Archive]

Ted's Cruise to the Far Right

Independent's Eye by Joe Gandelman

SAN ANTONIO -- Texas stereotype shattered. Texas stereotype confirmed.

Shattered One: Here in San Antonio, a lively, brawling mayor's race is underway, featuring 14 candidates and a breathtaking number of candidate forums. Most observers believe there'll be a run-off after the May 9 election.The front runner is former Democratic state Senator Leticia Van de Putte. If she wins, she'll be the first Latina mayor of a major American city. Not the stereotype of Texas.

Shattered Two: En route to Texas from Arkansas I stopped at a convenience store. The shift manager's badge had his name: Osama. Not the stereotype of Texas.

Confirmed: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz continues wooing the GOP's farthest right elements after becomingthe first person to officially throw his red meat into the ring for the 2016 Republican nomination. The stereotype of Texas. The image of the man reviled by many in his own party for engineering last year's GOP government shutdown feeds into non-Texans' inaccurate image of this richly diverse state as a far right conservative monolith.

Call him Cruz the Crusader.

Cruz is continuing his fast-track career of branding himself as Mr. All In for the GOP's evangelicals, far-rightists and -- not insignificantly --conservative talk show hosts whoadvocate in-your-face, no compromise battle against ideological and partisan" enemies." He's throwing out trite conservative lines and red meat in Costco quantities.

"Unlike Barack Obama, I was not a community organizer before I was elected to the Senate."Which appeals only to GOPers who love Rush, Sean and Glenn. "A real president. would stand up and say on the world stage: Under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran will either stop or we will stop them."

Cruz is up and coming in a field of GOPers vying for the 2016 Republican nomination that increasingly looks like local talk show personalities auditioning to be Rush Limbaugh guest hosts.Cruz and another pain-in-the-posterior to the GOP establishment, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul,want to seriously shake up and redefine the party, and free it from the "Party Powers That Be," who are morphing into "The Powers That Were."

Not good news for Jeb, since the subtext of the Paul and Cruz campaigns is "Burn Down the Bushes." Cruz has made it clear his goal is to defeat "the mushy middle" as he works to woo his envisioned coalition, and evangelicals in particular.

The New Yorker's satirist Andy Borowitz couldn't resist: "The Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz's constant references to Jesus Christ in his speeches and campaign ads are sparking a strong interest in atheism among millions of Americans, atheist leaders report."

But it's no laughing matter. Several online journalists have discovered a VERY large number of lies in Cruz's assertions. Salon's Sophia McClennen warns liberals that Cruz is dangerous, a manifestation of a politics where facts mean little and political mantras prevail: "Cruz represents a turn in GOP politics where political beliefs operate more like religious fervor than reasoned inference."

Cruz is rising in polls and is likely to rise more: he appeals to 21st century conservatives who feel a response that doesn't instantly reflect partisan or ideological group-think and suggests nuance or an effort for balance is "mushy," or, worse, "going moderate." On the left,the idea that thoughtful consideration is pesky is typified by liberal talker Ed Schultz's "Rapid Response" team on his TV show.(Weighing and balancing takes so darn LONG.)

There's the old phrase, "Don't mess with Texas." Cruz might consider not messing with "Mushy Moderates" and supposedly Ignoramus Independents because they might not prove so mushy or seemingly ignorant in the general election -- or if he gets into office.If the GOP gives Cruz the keys, it may find the same thing.

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Copyright 2015 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panelsand is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. He also writes for The Week's online edition. CNN's John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at jgandelman@themoderatevoice.com and can be booked to speak at www.mavenproductions.com. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joegandelman

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinion are solely those of the author.

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