The New York Times’ latest attack on Ted Cruz backfires, highlighting his virtues

Ted_Cruz_14Early last week, the New York Times published Frank Bruni’s overwrought essay, Anyone But Ted Cruz. The piece is clearly meant to assassinate Ted Cruz’s character by explaining why conservative voters should hate and fear him as much as Progressives do.

As a preliminary matter, of course, any conservative who accepts advice from the New York Times about preferred Republican candidates is a fool. The Times does not have Republicans’ best interests at heart, and the past fifteen years make it highly questionable whether it has America’s best interests at heart either. Listening to the Times’ advice about Republican candidates is kind of like taking dating advice from Ted Bundy.

But back to Bruni. . . .   After opening with some quick character assassination from the Left, Bruni works hard to explain that it’s not only the obvious suspects – i.e., Leftists – who dislike Cruz, but Republicans as well. His opinion piece is basically a “Dear Conservative voter” letter, claiming that, if these savvy Republican political figures hate Cruz, you, the voter, should too.

Bruni’s problem is that his explanations for Cruz’s unpopularity with Washington D.C.’s “in-crowd” Republicans manage to establish that Cruz has dedicated his entire adult life to advancing American constitutionalism and exceptionalism, notions that mainstream Republicans abandoned long ago. Thus, for anyone who rejects the Leftist and establishment assumptions underlying Bruni’s hit piece, it’s obvious that, during these troubled times at home and abroad, Ted Cruz is not ballot box poison.  Instead, he is the best man to return America to her core values of personal liberty, economic freedom, and national security policies that benefit America and her friends.

There are, of course, some virtues Cruz possesses that no one can deny. Like the defense attorney who tries to immunize his client against the most damning facts by ingenuously acknowledging them when trial begins, Bruni opens his latest piece by accepting that Cruz is likely the ‘smartest man in the room’:

He’s clearly brilliant — maybe smarter than any of the others. He’s a whirlwind of energy. And man oh man can he give a presentation. On any subject, he’s informed, inflamed, precise.

Bruni’s statement comports with the opinion of many people who actually know Ted Cruz, including famed liberal Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. So what is Bruni’s problem with Ted Cruz?

But then you talk with people who’ve worked with [Cruz] at various stages of his career. They dislike him.

No, scratch that.

They loathe him.

Let’s leave aside for a moment whether personal popularity — or skin color or type of sexual organs — should be a reason to vote for a person for President, since the job description for President is based on precisely none of those characteristics. Let’s also ignore for now that the practical experience we’ve gained from our recent experiment in voting for a President based on skin color shows how dangerous identity voting is. Instead, let’s examine at face value Bruni’s claim that Cruz’s lack of popularity should be disqualifying, complete with its insinuation that the lack of popularity arises from some sort of deep, dark character flaw.

Bruni certainly makes the case that Cruz is a polarizing figure in a political world in which Progressives take no prisoners and old-line Republicans valiantly try not to upset the Washington establishment apple cart. The real question for thoughtful voters is whether Cruz is “loathed,” not because he’s loathsome, but because he unnerves the people who need to be unnerved. That question requires delving more deeply into why Congress people, on both the Left and the Right, dislike Cruz.

To explain his own side’s hatred for Cruz, Bruni briefly looks to a Daily Beast article that reveals that, during Cruz’s first year at uber-liberal Princeton College, his roommate did not particularly like him:

His freshman roommate, Craig Mazin, told Patricia Murphy of The Daily Beast: “I would rather have anybody else be the president of the United States. Anyone. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book.

Given that so many hate Cruz for being an unrepentant Constitutional conservative idealist, it is ironic that Bruni’s choice of Mazin’s quotable quote, wittingly or not, plays on arch-conservative William F. Buckley’s famous quip, “I would sooner be governed by the first four hundred names in the Boston telephone directory than by the four hundred members of the faculty of Harvard.” Neither Bruni nor the Daily Beast author seem to pick up on that irony.

Bruni quickly abandons The Daily Beast article to get to the meat of his piece, which is to explain why Republicans also hate Cruz. Before we do the same, it’s worthwhile to delve deeper into the Daily Beast article, both because it explains why Mazin hated his roommate and because (obviously unwittingly from The Daily Beast’s world view) it gives valuable – and highly flattering – insight into the young Cruz.

First, at least as far as The Daily Beast article is concerned, we learn that seemingly the only substantive reason for Mazin’s disliking Cruz was that the 17-year-old Cruz was reading a rather startling book:

“I remember very specifically that he had a book in Spanish and the title was Was Karl Marx a Satanist? And I thought, who is this person?” Mazin says of Ted Cruz. “Even in 1988, he was politically extreme in a way that was surprising to me.”

Wow! A 17-year-old kid – more accurately, a 17-year-old bilingual kid – was reading a wacky book. For Progressives and mainline Republicans, that’s certainly a reason to hate him twenty-seven years later.

As an aside, Karl Marx probably wasn’t a Satanist, but he was most certainly a hate-filled anti-Semite whose writing unleashed a worldwide killing spree that, over 150 years, has murdered hundreds of millions of people everywhere from Russia to China to Germany to North Korea to all points in between. The irony is that few people today would label as extremists those who read Karl Marx or, worse, who think he’s brilliant. Instead, these people are just referred to as “Bernie Sanders supporters.”

The Daily Beast article reveals something more interesting than a silly book, which is that, when young Cruz erred, he then repented and reformed, at great cost to himself:

Cruz also angered a number of upperclassmen his freshman year when he joined in a regular poker game and quickly ran up $1,800 in debt to other students from his losses. Cruz’s spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, said Cruz acknowledges playing in the poker games, which he now considers “foolish.”

He went to his aunt, who worked at a bank in Dallas, and borrowed $1,800 from her, which he paid in cash and promptly quit the game,” Frazier told The Daily Beast, explaining that Cruz worked two jobs and made monthly payments to his aunt for the next two years to repay the debt.

So to recap: a 17-year-old away from home for the first time foolishly gambled away money he did not have. Rather than walking away from what the British used to call “a debt of honor” or passing the debt on to his parents, he instead went to a reliable person for a loan, fully repaid his gambling debt, and then worked extremely hard to repay his loan. Moreover, there’s no indication that Cruz subsequently had a gambling problem. So not only did he face up to his failure, he learned from it. Call me old-fashioned, but that strikes me as laudable, not disgraceful, conduct.

Nor, despite Princeton’s overwhelmingly Progressive student body and faculty, was Cruz without friends:

While Cruz may have been disliked, and intensely so, by many of his classmates, he found a close and longtime friend in a gregarious, popular student from Jamaica named David Panton, who became Cruz’s tag-team partner on Princeton’s renowned debate squad, as well as his roommate for the remainder of their time at Princeton and when they both attended Harvard Law School.

Unlike what others may say, I consider Ted to be very kind. He is a very, very gentle-hearted person,” Panton told <em>The Daily Beast</em>. “He took me under his wing and was a mentor to me. He was very kind to me. I am a much smarter and much better person today because of Ted Cruz.”

Panton’s statement is a lovely encomium. Additionally, given our nation’s current obsession with identity politics, it seems worthwhile to point out something about the Jamaican-born Panton:  he’s black.  In other words, both Panton, who had a Hispanic friend in Cruz, and Cruz, who had a black friend in Panton, truly heeded Martin Luther King’s dictum, with each judging the other by the content of his character, rather than by the color of his skin.  That speaks well of both men, who at a young age already had a principled belief that character matters.

Cruz and Panton were a dynamic debating duo, and their experience shows that Cruz was indeed brilliant, that he was socially comfortable, that he worked extremely hard, and that he was willing to mentor others to help them along as well

Cruz and Panton debated together for four years at Princeton and came to dominate the collegiate parliamentary debate circuit, winning the North American championships in 1992 and being named the top two collegiate debaters in the country (Cruz was No. 1). The competitive debate world also gave Cruz a different social circle, with fellow debaters congregating in his room to hang out and play Super Mario Bros. Debate weekends included Friday night parties that Cruz often attended, where he was remembered to be “sort of a stud” with girls on the debate circuit. Princeton debaters also said he spent extra time mentoring them to improve their skills, even though they competed against each other.

Cruz’s long-term friendship with Panton allows Panton to offer a deeper insight about Cruz than we get from Mazin’s simplistic scorn regarding Cruz’s reading material. It turns out that, as his supporters have known all along, Cruz is a bone deep conservative, as opposed to the unprincipled weathervane many in the GOP are trying to suggest that he is:

Throughout those years, Cruz and Panton remained friends, and Panton still speaks highly of him, saying with praise that the one word that describes Cruz best is “consistent.”

He’s not someone who shifts in the wind,” Panton says. “The Ted Cruz that I knew at 17 years old is exactly the same as the Ted Cruz I know at 42 years old. He was very conservative then, and an outspoken conservative. He remains strongly conservative today.”

Even at a young age, Cruz understood what his conservativism was about. Unlike today’s screeching Progressive college students, Cruz wasn’t a conservative because it was trendy (which it wasn’t during his time at Princeton, just as it isn’t now), nor was he unthinkingly following his parents’ lead, as so many less politically aware young people do. Instead, he delved deep into his ideas:

That [conservative] consistency reveals itself in Cruz’s senior thesis, which he completed under the mentorship of Robert George, a professor of jurisprudence whom The New York Times called “the reigning brain of the Christian right.” [Talk about your dog whistles.]

Cruz’s thesis, “Clipping the Wings of Angels,” quoted James Madison in the Federalist Papers saying in part that, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Cruz focused on the history and theory behind the Ninth and 10th [sic] Amendments in a constitutional defense that reads like a speech he could give at any Tea Party event in the country.

The time-capsule quality of Cruz’s politics is lost on no one who knew him at Princeton, none of whom could point to a political position that he held 25 years ago that he does not seem to still hold today. For some, that amounts to a laudably consistent belief system. For others, it reveals a man of calcified thinking, dangerously impervious to facts, reality, and a changing world.

For Progressives, it is damning that Sen. Cruz has not “evolved” and, instead, has remained “dangerously impervious to facts, reality and a changing world.” That indictment is true, however, only if one is holding the wrong idea for too long.

Thankfully, some people do manage to outgrow bad ideas. After all, we all live in hope that today’s neurasthenic college students will outgrow their narcissistic, hate-filled Progressive identity politics and eventually step into the adult world.  But let’s ignore those boring infants at America’s institutions of higher education and, instead, concentrate on Cruz’s supposed inability to adapt to a “changing world.”

While Progressives love to wave around the word “change” as a banner of modernity, the fact is that some things never change, especially those universal, core values on which our nation was founded. The French nailed it when they said plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (“the more things change, the more they remain the same”). While our world may be “changing” in superficial terms, with different enemies and different allies, the challenges we face, although clothed in modern terms, are virtually identical to the issues that our ancestors have dealt with over and during the centuries.

What is at issue in politics today can be simplified to this: Are we to be the nation our Founders envisioned when they crafted our Constitution using Enlightenment ideals, or are we to adopt the Progressive world view and policies that come to us from the French Revolution and Karl Marx (ideas and policies, incidentally, that have never worked, no matter where or when they’ve been tried)?

The Enlightenment and the French Revolution present polar opposite views of humanity, economics, and government. The Enlightenment stood for individual rights and responsibility; equality of opportunity; traditional, Judeo-Christian morality and ethics; free market capitalism; and political power vested in the people through representative government.

By contrast, the French Revolution, which Karl Marx then reduced to a turgid polemic, stood for individuals subordinated to government; forced equality of outcome; welfare; government as the arbiter of morality; economic socialism, with government dictating what may be bought and what may be sold, leavened only by crony capitalism; and tyrannical authoritarian government, with elite, top-down rule.

The Enlightenment view is pragmatic about the human condition. It sees man as imperfect and tries to harness his better angels while minimizing his baser instincts. The French Revolution view is utopian. It is predicated on the belief that raw government power can perfect society.

These are not new issues that have only arisen because of a modern, “changing world.” Both ideas – the Enlightenment and the Revolutionary/Marxian world view – synthesize government structures  and social constructs going back as far as the Bible and the ancient classical world.

Enlightenment thinkers, after conducting a historical survey, concluded that the best societies were those that were most free, with open systems that naturally, and without coercion, channeled men’s best and worst qualities in ways that served both the individual and society at large. The French Revolution and Karl Marx, for all their talk of liberty and equality, took their lead from those societies in which a self-appointed elite, with force of arms, laid down the law for everyone else, presumably for the masses’ betterment.

Only a historical illiterate thinks any Progressive ideas are modern reflections of unique events in a “changing world.” We need only one example to prove how stale Progressive ideas are:  Look at the ancient idea that a sovereign can impose penalties or laws on individuals without a representative body’s approval. That idea is perfectly mirrored today in our regulatory bureaucracy that, taking its cue from the nation’s top executive, creates legislation that not only exceeds the legislation our elected representatives passed, but in many cases opposes Congress’s explicit refusal to pass such legislation. This issue of non-representative government, which is anchored in America thanks to our 18th century Revolution, was already at the core of England’s Glorious Revolution (1688), its Civil War (1642-1651), and the Magna Carta itself (1215).

In America today, we are in a zero sum competition between the Progressives’ view, derived from the French Revolution and Marx, and the Constitutional conservatives’ view, derived from the Enlightenment and our Constitution. There is no question that Progressives view the Constitution as an irritating impediment to their ideology, that they will eternally seek to amend it through judicial fiat or go around it through the regulatory bureaucracy, and that they will demonize anyone who opposes their policies, just as Bruni is trying to do with Cruz. That Progressive world view, more than anything, explains the Left’s utter antipathy to and hatred for Ted Cruz, who is very much a Constitutionalist and who loudly espouses ideals that come directly out of The Enlightenment.

Going back to the fact that Ted Cruz has never abandoned his fealty to our Constitutional form of governance, intelligent people understand that “self-evident truths” about each individual’s innate worth, about equality, and about freedom, are universal and timeless. They do not need to be revamped every time the political wind blows. Instead, as the political winds blow and times change, the only sane thing to do is precisely what Cruz has done: to delve deeper into those ideas and values, cultivate them, spread them, and generally use them to preserve individual liberty, the free market, and the rule of law, all of which are integral to a healthy, prosperous, and stable society.  The alternative — jettisoning those values in favor of elite-led authoritarianism – spells the end of American liberty, prosperity, and security.

Now that we’ve established not just that Progressives hate Ted Cruz (a given), but why they hate Ted Cruz (which requires some deep thinking about freedom), it’s time to turn to Bruni’s contention that mainstream Republicans hate Cruz too . . . implying that conservatives should follow their leaders. Bruni therefore spends the rest of his article spinning endless anecdotes that purportedly prove that Republicans hate Cruz with every bit as much passion as those on the Left, not because of his ideas but just because he’s . . . Ted Cruz:

It’s not easy to come across on-the-record quotes like that, and Mazin’s words suggest a disdain that transcends ideology. They bear heeding.


The political strategist Matthew Dowd, who worked for Bush back then, tweeted that “if truth serum was given to the staff of the 2000 Bush campaign,” an enormous percentage of them “would vote for Trump over Cruz.”

Another Bush 2000 alumnus said to me: “Why do people take such an instant dislike to Ted Cruz? It just saves time.”

His three signature moments in the Senate have been a florid smearing of Chuck Hagel with no achievable purpose other than attention for Ted Cruz, a flamboyant rebellion against Obamacare with no achievable purpose other than attention for Ted Cruz, and a fiery protest of federal funding for Planned Parenthood with no achievable purpose other than attention for Ted Cruz. Notice any pattern?

Asked about Cruz at a fund-raiser last spring, John Boehner responded by raising a lone finger — the middle one.

Bruni’s laundry of Ted Cruz horribles raises several issues: First, one has to applaud the collected snark in the article. Any conservative with a working sense of humor has to laugh at the “it just saves time” remark.

Second, we cannot afford to lose sight of the false theory underlying the claim that establishment figures are so put off by Cruz that they would rather vote for Trump. A vote for Trump certainly can’t be because Trump is less “abrasive” and more of a “team player” than Cruz. Trump’s is popular right now precisely because he seems willing to buck the system and is not bound by political correctness.

The reality is that Trump, unlike Cruz and unlike Trump’s own inflammatory rhetoric, is not a conservative. He is, instead, a somewhat xenophobic crony capitalist who in the past has probably sided more often with Progressive policies than with conservative policies, including policies such as single payer healthcare and eminent domain.

As Taylor Millard at Hot Air observed: “Trump isn’t a conservative and to paint him as one is ridiculous. There’s a ton of anger out there and all Trump is doing is tapping into it by pretending to be a populist.” For all Trump’s bombast, no one should expect him to upset the apple cart in office and to work to reestablish the Enlightenment principals written into our Constitution.

In other words, mainstream Republicans are comfortable with abrasive, bombastic, political figures.  That being the case, their real beef with Cruz can be found in the third issue Bruni’s article raises:

Third, when the establishment politicians in the Republican party, the ones whom Bruni quotes, savage Cruz, it’s obvious that they want someone who, unlike Cruz, won’t upset the status quo. This is the status quo that sees Republicans in the Obama era meekly follow the Democrats, distinguishing themselves only by the fact that they periodically ask querulously “But can we really afford to do this?”

Serious voters need to look beyond mainstream Republican showboating claims about how Republicans are doing everything they can to oppose Obama’s policies at home and abroad.  They’re not.

The reality is that in 2010, 2012 and particularly 2014, we’ve seen wave elections for Republicans at the Federal and State level. Looking at the three combined elections, Republicans now control more Federal and State government legislative and executive positions than at any time in the past century and, likely, than at any time since the era of Reconstruction, right after the Democrats lost the Civil War.

Those three wave elections came about for one reason – the voters responded to the path Obama and the Progressive Left were and are taking this country. These elections should therefore have resulted in a resurgent Republican Congress wielding the voters’ mandate to oppose Obama at every opportunity. And yet, what have those elections actually accomplished? The answer, at least from the perspective of conservative and Constitutional voters, is that these elections have accomplished nothing.

For the past five years, right up until this past week, Republicans have not made a single serious attempt to roll back Obamacare or any of Obama’s other deeply unpopular policies at home and abroad, whether we’re talking about immigration, economic policy, taxation, climate change mitigation, or foreign policy. Moreover, despite the voters’ conservative mandate, Republicans are supine when Obama pursues many of these same policies using manifestly unconstitutional means or engages in administrative acts of appalling corruption and ineptitude.

No matter what Obama does, Republicans, who have complete control over the power of the purse, have done nothing on these issues, other than a few symbolic, and utterly meaningless, gestures that were designed to fail.  As Ace says, at his popular site, Ace of Spades, the Republicans are engaged in nothing more than Kabuki theater.

For instance, Republicans have only recently conspired with the administration to treat the Iran Deal as something other than a treaty, thereby willfully denying the Senate a voice in and a vote over what may be the most consequential national security issue of our time. We’ve also watched as Republicans have tried desperately to renew the Export Import Bank, which is the very symbol of crony capitalism.

No wonder that many on the right see no difference between Progressives and Republicans in Congress. At their worst, Republican Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appear merely to mouth opposition while willingly going along with the Progressives; at their best, they appear incompetent and spineless.

Ted Cruz stands out from – and is therefore hated by – establishment Republicans precisely because he is neither complicit with Progressives, nor is he either incompetent or spineless. He is an unrepentant Constitutionalist, thus explaining why the Left would rather see “anyone but Ted Cruz” in the White House. He also has the courage of his convictions. He alone has stood up on the issues for which he was elected and sent to the Senate.

Bruni tries to undercut Cruz’s political courage with a flow of florid negative adjectives and trite expressions: “arrogance,” a “thirst for the spotlight,” “abrasive,” “obnoxiousness,” and “refusal to be a team player.” Before buying into Bruni’s spin, let’s take a look at the specific “signature moments” that Bruni identifies as indicative of everything wrong with Ted Cruz.

Cruz’s first alleged sin was what Bruni calls “a florid smearing of Chuck Hagel with no achievable purpose other than attention for Ted Cruz.” In fact, Ted Cruz justified his opposition to Chuck Hagel’s nomination to serve as Secretary Defense on principled grounds that he fully explained in a USA Today op-ed. The piece is polite, fact-based and, in retrospect, eerily prescient.

Cruz’s concern about Hagel’s support for Israel, a long-time U.S. ally and the only true democracy in the medieval, chaotic, and blood-thirsty Middle East, has proven correct. Both before and after his nomination, Hagel has cheerfully worked for years to isolate Israel and to leave her vulnerable to a full-scale Iranian nuclear attack.

Cruz’s concern about Hagel’s “willingness to accept rogue states as legitimate players on the international stage on par with our friends,” has proven to be correct as well. While Israel is in the dog house, the Obama administration, presumably with Hagel’s support, has entered into a non-treaty treaty that, read literally, obligates America to protect Iran’s nuclear infrastructure against any attacks, including presumably attacks from an anxious Israel that knows she’s in Iran’s nuclear crosshairs.

To see just how prescient Cruz was when he challenged Hagel, you really should read his entire op-ed. In addition to the two examples above, every point Cruz raised to oppose Hagel’s nomination has proven to be fully justified. That a go-along-to-get-along Congress eventually approved Hagel’s nomination hardly means that Cruz’s concerns were a smear, unjustified, or attention seeking.

Bruni also identifies as Cruz’s second and third signature sins his “flamboyant rebellion against Obamacare” and against “Planned Parenthood.”  Let’s put those in perspective by focusing in Obamacare.

Republicans control Congress.  They were elected in wave elections by voters anxious to roll back Obamacare.  Yet when it came time to vote on funding bills, these same Republicans opted to fund Obamacare.

Of all the people in the Senate, Cruz was the one who took a principled stand, and for that he was vilified on the Left and Right.  But to paint his opposition in those three “signature moments” as having no “achievable purpose” is ridiculous.  It is akin to pronouncing the defense of the 300 at Thermopylae as useless because the Spartans could not win the battle.

Cruz’s stigmatized “signature moments” have had three important and pronounced effects:  First, they showed Cruz’s fidelity to principle and his willingness to take the heat for that fidelity. (Harry “if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen” Truman would have understood and approved.)

Second, they put supine Republican Congresscritters on notice that their passivity and willingness to accept the Progressive plan were not acceptable to the people that voted them into office. And guess what? Congress has gotten that message. Boehner abandoned the speakership rather than face what amounts to a no-confidence vote. And in what can only be seen as vindication, just last week the Senate voted to repeal key Obamacare provisions and to defund Planned Parenthood. The voters have spoken, Cruz has led the way, and now his party is following him.

Third, and quite ironically, Cruz’s “signature moments” paved the way for Trump to pick up the gauntlet Cruz tossed at both parties. Trump is currently running, not on his own Democrat Progressive record, but on the canard that he, rather than Cruz, is the unrepentant conservative in the race willing to bring about real change.

At the end of his article, Bruni notes:

Many politicians rankle peers. Many have detractors. Cruz generates antipathy of an entirely different magnitude. It’s so pronounced and so pervasive that he’s been forced to acknowledge it, and he spins it as the price invariably paid by an outsider who challenges the status quo, clings to principle and never backs down.

And there, in what he believes is that final nail in Cruz’s coffin, Bruni exposes the main flaw in his brutal attempted character assassination: He has failed to prove that Cruz suffers from an actual character flaw, such as being immoral, an inveterate liar, weak-willed, stupid, or a person motivated purely by naked ambition and devoid of any fundamental principles. (Incidentally, if you’re looking for actual examples of those character flaws in 2016 presidential contenders, the leading Democrat candidates could do with a bit of scrutiny.) Instead, Bruni succeeds only in proving that Cruz’s real sin, at least to the Times, is that he is now, and always has been, an unshakable conservative.

One last comment on Bruni’s article. At one point he states that “More and more Republican insiders talk about a battle between Cruz and Marco Rubio for the nomination, or about a three-way, if you will, among Cruz, Rubio and Trump.”  (Emphasis added.)

That little clause, “if you will,” reveals that Bruni is not using the expression “three way” in its ordinary political or game-playing sense.  Instead, it is a dubious homosexual entendre revealing one of the more unsavory aspects of any debate with a Progressive, which is that, sooner or later, no matter the topic, they manage to drag it down with references to sex or fecal matter. Bruni’s low-rent sex joke has no place in a political opinion piece in a publication that hangs grimly on to its entirely undeserved reputation as the nation’s “paper of record.”

This throwaway is on par with Anderson Cooper’s sleazy reference to members of the Tea Party – a group of law-abiding citizens who objected to Obamacare and other excessive, often unconstitutional charges on the middle- and working-classes — as “tea baggers,” an allusion to a gay oral sex practice. That the Times published Bruni’s innuendo says every bit as much about the Left’s and Bruni’s character as Cruz’s poker story says about him.

In sum, Bruni’s opinion piece, while mean-spirited and intemperate, usefully exposes what voters need to understand about the coming election: The Progressives’ approach to a “changed” world is authoritarian, often anti-American, and certainly anti-middle and working class. To the extent that Progressives’ policies have rendered our country more vulnerable and our world more dangerous, the best possible candidate is Ted Cruz, who has spent his life devoted to the principle that our Constitution exists to limit our government, enhance our freedom, and protect us against enemies both foreign and domestic.

(Note: While I’d love to take all the credit for this post, that would be a lie. I worked on it closely with a friend who insists on remaining anonymous, but whose contribution is inextricably intertwined with my own writing. Thank you, friend.)

This piece has been edited since it was first published to (a) insert two paragraphs that WordPress capriciously deleted (more than once); and (b) to correct a few obvious (and, of course, embarrassing) typos.