Rand Paul May Save Republicans. Ted Cruz May Kill Them.
If Paul is working to stretch the party’s narrow boundaries — on race, youth, the environment, national security — Texas Senator Ted Cruz is driving Republicans ever deeper into their ideological cul-de-sac. Cruz has had a glittering career: Harvard Law Review, Supreme Court clerk, Texas Solicitor General. His resume is filled with “first” and “youngest,” and the general thrust is pretty clearly “best.”
Cruz’s high IQ, however, is betrayed by his politics, which are comparable to those of the dimmest goobers on Capitol Hill. IRS in the news? Cruz glibly calls for abolishing it. Nominee for defense secretary? Cruz slanders him so crudely that he earns a rebuke from Senator John McCain and a comparison to Joe McCarthy — from mild-mannered David Brooks, of all people.
Rather than using his Cuban roots to help the party navigate the shoals of immigration reform, as Florida Senator Marco Rubio is doing, Cruz has taken the easy, destructive route, spewing demagogy and backing poison-pill amendments. When House majority leader Eric Cantor tried to get Republicans on record supporting something, anything to suggest the party’s health-care agenda is more than a homicidal rage against Obamacare, Cruz’s aides worked to torpedo it. The bill’s failure in the House was a political fiasco.
Somewhere between Paul’s calculated stretch and Cruz’s cynical contraction, is a third freshman, Rubio. He has been drifting between those two shores, never quite reaching the far ends of either. If Rubio survives the ordeal of immigration reform, Paul’s efforts to broaden the party would eventually aid a Rubio presidential campaign in 2016. Cruz’s ugly tactics, on the other hand, show a sure road to destruction. Freshman-wise, it’s not much of a contest.