Monday, March 28, 2016

Douthat on Cruz

I think Ross Douthat nails Ted Cruz in this essay. After noting that actually there are many true believers in politics, he writes:
With Cruz, though, even the most fervent peroration always feels like a debater’s patter, an advocate’s brief — compelling enough on the merits, but more of a command performance than a window into deep conviction.

This doesn’t mean that Cruz’s conservatism isn’t sincere. But the fact that he seems so much like an actor hitting his marks fits with the story of how he became Mr. True Conservative Outsider in the first place. Basically, he spent years trying to make it in Washington on the insider’s track, and hit a wall because too many of the insiders didn’t like him — because his ambition was too naked, his climber’s zeal too palpable. So he deliberately switched factions, turning the establishment’s personal disdain into a political asset, and taking his Ivy League talents to the Tea Party instead. . . .

Unloved, unattractive, a Simpsons-quoting nerd still chasing the teenage dream of world domination, the Texas senator has outworked, out-organized and outlasted the candidates who were supposed to beat him, from the blueblood to the jock.

His cynicism can be repellent, his message discipline exhausting, and his Reagan-vintage policy proposals induce a mild despair. But in the drama of this insane campaign, he has actually earned his position, and if his doggedness wins the Republican nomination on the second ballot it will be one of the most fascinating triumphs in recent political history.

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