by Reed Galen
Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Days Until Iowa Caucus: 315
Officially Declared Candidates: 3 (Sen. Ted Cruz (Rep), Dr. Ben Carson (Rep), Jim Webb (Dem))
Quote of the Week: “Love at first sight is possible, but it pays to take a second look.” Anonymous
Welcome to the American Singularity.
Why the Singularity?
· The presidential nominating process is one in which everything, large and small, is sucked into its gravitational maw, allowing nothing to escape its grasp as events pass through the campaign cycle’s event horizon.
· There is no more singular political experience on the planet than electing the President of the United States.
· The United States is still the most free, most prosperous and brightest beacon of hope to billions around the world.
Every action and reaction feeds into this black hole of press coverage, donor reactions, voter sentiment and activist opinions. Nothing goes unnoticed and nothing is forgotten. Legions of reporters, bloggers, opposition researchers, trackers, social media monitoring services, vacuum up every last syllable.
Every week we’ll take a look at the campaign as it unfolds, and how events reflect the campaigns, the issues of the day and the country at large. Have a tip, piece of advice or something to add? Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
This Week: Ted Cruz Jumps In The Pool
Today, US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) launched his presidential bid for the 2016 Republican nomination. Known as much for single-handedly convincing House Republicans to shut down the government in the fall of 2013 as anything else, Cruz touts himself as the ‘Courageous Conservative’ in the race. He plans to target both social conservative and libertarian wings on the GOP – quite the act of needle-threading as Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Gov. Rick Perry, Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Rick Santorum (to name a few) are chasing the same people.
More than his difficult electoral mathematics, Cruz is hard to like. His reputation among his Senate colleagues is terrible – John McCain referred to him as a ‘wacko-bird.’ Aside from their disagreements on policy or style, Cruz appears to relish the disdain of his fellow toga-wearers. The denizens of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body and their opinions won’t likely decide the 2016 presidential race, but Cruz’s arrogant reputation precedes him – voters don’t need to love you, but they would like to like you.
Apparently aware his mercurial persona isn’t conducive to swaying others to your point of view, Cruz went on a tour to visit donors and assure them he’s “not all that conservative.”
Like he was releasing a new Peter Frampton album, Cruz announced his presidential run via Twitter just after midnight eastern time this morning.
The swarm of reporters, operatives and pundits that live on Twitter immediately pounced on every last bit of Cruz’s news, from the similarity of his video to that of Jon Huntsman in 2011, to the fact that there wasn’t any immediate way to collect email addresses, to the fact that the tedcruz.org website was requesting donations, but hadn’t put basic secure-socket layer (SSL) protections in place against hacking.
Cruz will also have to contend with tedcruz.com – which a competitor landed on first, and dedicated the site to supporting President Obama and immigration reform.
One Hour Sermonizing
I’ve seen Cruz speak several times. He moves around the stage with the volume, vigor and confidence of a Baptist preacher. His reception depends completely on the audience – a group of technology experts looked as if they’d been blown back into their seats. The kids at Liberty University this morning, were polite and clapped a lot, but sermons are their bread and butter. Unlike a truly talented pastor, though, Cruz speaks in platitudes – freedom, conservatism, America.
Those personal anecdotes he did share felt like he was rushing through the details, making sure it was on the record for some later tactical use, without any explanation or exploration of how it led him to where he is today. It is a uniquely American story, and one worth telling, but
He also suffers from a classic political deficiency: the things from which he wants to protect us, are things with which he doesn’t personally contend. Obamacare, for example is one of Cruz’s favorite whipping posts (by the way happy 5th birthday, ACA, good luck in Kindergarten!) While there is plenty to dislike about the ACA (who else is on Team Cigna Silver?), Cruz didn’t have to sign up. His wife is a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, so he enjoys their Gold(man) plated health insurance.
UPDATE: Per @CNN, Sen. Cruz and his family will be indeed be signing up for Obamcare as Mrs. Cruz has taken an unpaid leave of absence from Goldman Sachs and her benefits do not carry forward. From the CNN post: "It's a deeply ironic development for the Texas conservative firebrand, who vaulted to fame during his few years in the Senate in large part by denouncing President Barack Obama's landmark health care law."
While Senator Cruz bashes Washington, DC and the Establishment, when offered the opportunity to live as millions of Americans do, under the constraints of government-mandated healthcare, he chose to look out for himself. If he truly wants to lead us, why would he not suffer with us?
Cruz wants to relate to the everyman, but he isn’t one. He wants to know he’s on your side, but only when it suits him personally. He wants to appeal to libertarians (small government) but goes to the bastion of social conservatism (government intervention in the most personal matters) to launch his campaign.
He tells you he wants to lead, but doesn’t have enough respect for the audience to do more than quote five or six of the Founding Fathers, blatantly lift Ronald Reagan’s City on a Hill reference, and hit the IRS and Obamacare hot buttons repeatedly. Any original thought was left on the cutting room floor – if it was ever on the page to begin with.
Ted Cruz is not dumb. He didn’t get through Princeton and Harvard being less than highly intelligent. He’s figured out, like so many successful politicians before him, how to stir up anger and resentment against the world as it is, providing only scant evidence as to how they would personally improve things. But anger burns hot and fast. Cruz has made a career of being Dr. No. How will he now rally voters to an optimistic cause? He’s never had one, and never been a visionary leader.
In 2012, Cruz took on the establishment in Texas and won a seat in the US Senate. But that was among a very small, very conservative electorate. While Cruz may have some advantages in an early state like Iowa, Republicans in blue states will have a disproportionate voice in who is ultimately the nominee next year. Communicating with them, in Florida, New York and California, is a task Cruz likely can’t accomplish – but hey, they’re just the “mushy middle” anyway, who needs them?
Author’s Note (2): This series is not in any way related to Harold Hyman’s American Singularity – The 1787 Northwest Ordinance, 1862 Homestead and Morrill Acts and the 1944 GI Bill.