The USA Today editorial board likened GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)'s “dogmatic, confrontational and hyperpartisan” rhetoric and tactics to those of Donald Trump, writing “only in comparison with Trump does Cruz look like an attractive alternative.” The board further wrote that “if Trump represents a train wreck for the GOP, a Cruz candidacy carries the potential for a multicar pileup.”
Cruz has recently seen increased support in GOP primary state and national polls, while “adeptly tapping into GOP primary voters who want an anti-establishment candidate and smaller government.” Cruz, who “has cleverly positioned himself to capitalize should Trump's shameless candidacy falter,” has mirrored Trump's harsh rhetoric, calling for a Christian litmus test for Syrian refugees and equating President Obama's defense of Islam to defense of terrorism.
On December 14, the USA Today editorial board excoriated Cruz for embodying “the compromise-is-a-dirty-word attitude that has left Washington gridlocked.” The board wrote that “Donald Trump is a problem for the GOP, but Cruz might not be the solution” because he would “start his presidency with animosity from many of the lawmakers, from both parties, whose help he'd need to get things done on Capitol Hill.” The board also spotlighted that Cruz's approach to foreign policy “ignores a number of practical realities” and his 2013 government shutdown stunt was “a doomed-from-the-start effort” :
Donald Trump is a problem for the GOP, but Cruz might not be the solution.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is the latest Republican presidential candidate to generate that priceless commodity in politics: buzz. Three recent polls show him leading in Iowa and most show him running second nationally to Donald Trump. Cruz has raised nearly $65 million, the second most in the GOP race. He is adeptly tapping into GOP primary voters who want an anti-establishment candidate and smaller government. And he has cleverly positioned himself to capitalize should Trump's shameless candidacy falter.
Even so, as the Republican hopefuls gather for their party's fifth and final debate of 2015 on Tuesday night, only in comparison with Trump does Cruz look like an attractive alternative. If Trump represents a train wreck for the GOP, a Cruz candidacy carries the potential for a multicar pileup.
Cruz, a skilled debater and Ivy League-educated lawyer, lacks some of the basic attributes needed to win a national election and govern effectively. Like Barack Obama in 2008, he is a first-term senator who has never run anything bigger than his own office. Dogmatic, confrontational and hyperpartisan, Cruz embodies the compromise-is-a-dirty-word attitude that has left Washington gridlocked on so many of the important problems facing the nation.
He was a key architect of the 2013 government shutdown, a doomed-from-the-start effort to force the repeal of Obamacare. That episode earned Cruz plaudits from the Tea Party movement -- and the enmity of many of his Republican colleagues, who saw a shutdown as a bad idea and his behavior as abrasive. This fall, Cruz pushed for another shutdown, this one to demand the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
On numerous occasions, he has advocated allowing the U.S. Treasury to default if the Democrats don't accede to his positions. If nothing else, he would start his presidency with animosity from many of the lawmakers, from both parties, whose help he'd need to get things done on Capitol Hill.
Cruz is also wont to promote facile and unrealistic ideas on foreign policy. He would, for example, carpet bomb the Islamic State terrorist group “into oblivion.” To that end, he recently told an Iowa audience: “I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out.”
This approach ignores a number of practical realities. In cities where ISIL has entrenched itself with the population, civilian casualties would be horrendous. The number of refugees fleeing to the West would greatly increase. And aerial bombardment's success, in the absence of a coordinated ground campaign, has been mixed at best.
Cruz's political argument is that Republicans can win a general election only by nominating a real conservative like himself who could turn out evangelicals and other staunch conservatives in record numbers, unlike the more moderate GOP nominees who have lost recent presidential elections.
In reality, though, his hard-line positions on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage would just as likely energize voters on the left while giving centrists an excuse to vote Democratic or stay home, particularly in battleground states where swing voters prefer uniters to dividers.
By virtue of his rising poll numbers, Cruz will be standing at Tuesday's debate next to Trump, who has dominated the headlines with his odious call for barring all non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States. Cruz says he disagrees with Trump's approach but still calls the billionaire “terrific.”
Cruz obviously does not want to antagonize Trump's supporters, some of whom might be shopping around for someone else. There comes a time, however, when even ambitious politicians should be expected to say and do what is right, not what's merely expedient.