Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is "Crazy Ted" Cruz "the new McCarthy"? Um, would that be Joe McCarthy, or Charlie?


More and more people seem to be asking, as The New Yorker did recently, "Is Senator Ted Cruz Our New McCarthy?" It's not clear to me, though, whether they're thinking of Joe McCarthy or Charlie. (That's Charlie McCarthy in the photo above, at left. At right is his frequent companion, Edgar Bergen -- you know, Candice's dad.)

"Cruz's spokesman called it 'curious' that The New Yorker would cover Cruz's speech 'three years' after he gave it."
-- from Jane Mayer's newyorker.com post "Ted Cruz
Responds -- and Still Sees Red at Harvard Law

by Ken

As a matter of fact, there's nothing at all mysterious about the current public attention being paid to the speech in which now-Sen. Ted Cruz declared that when he attended Harvard Law School in the early '90s, the faculty included 12 Communists who "believed in the overthrow of the U.S. Government." As Jane Mayer herself explained:
Cruz's hostile questioning of Obama's nominee for Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, and insinuations about Hagel's loyalties had provided a fresh context for looking more closely at the nature of the accusations he has leveled at political opponents. Observers like Senator Barbara Boxer wondered if they were seeing a revival of McCarthyism. Cruz's speech -- and, now, his acknowledgement of it -- will only add to the discussion. His spokeswoman didn't address that question.
Howie covered the current flap about "Crazy Ted" Cruz's batshit-crazy blithering pretty thoroughly last night ("Ted Cruz, Like Most Texas Republicans, Understands The Danger Of Thinking"), and I certainly don't want to minimize the essential point: that the guy isn't just batshit crazy but is maliciously and demagogically so, and is a pathological liar to boot. And now he has, via his spokestwit, Catherine Frazier, doubled down on both the crazy and the demagoguery, standing by the "substantive point" of his original accusation, that when he attended Harvard Law School in the early '90s the faculty included a dozen Communists who "believed in the overthrow of the U.S. Government" -- as against one lone faculty Republican. As Jane Mayer reported, even Charles Fried, who was one of four Republicans on the faculty during Crazy Ted's time at Harvard Law, considers his charge ridiculous. (A considerably better case can be made that Crazy Ted got the voters of Texas to send him to Washington in order to join the congressional Republican labor of overthrowing the government, at least in its constitutional form.)

Maybe we can't hold it against Crazy Ted's staff stooge Catherine Frazier that she lied so flagrantly for her boss. After all, isn't that a key element of her job description, lying for the boss? The problem is that the boss is a thug and a liar and possibly a fugitive mental patient, and the voters of Texas are apparently okay with that. As Howie reported the other day, while the Crazyman in fact lost the state's big cities, he racked up mind-boggling numbers in rural parts of the state, where it appears that "thuggish" and "crazy" and "stupid" and "dishonest," far from being disqualifications for high public office, are practically prerequisites.


But there's something else about spokestwit Catherine's response that has stuck with me, and I've highlighted it in that sentence of Jane Mayer's I've put atop this post: "Cruz's spokesman called it 'curious' that The New Yorker would cover Cruz's speech 'three years' after he gave it."

Let's forget that it's not really three years since the speech in question, but more likely two and a half. It won't be three years till July, since the speech in question was a Fourth of July weekend "stem-winder" (as Jane Mayer described it) delivered as part of a gathering of the wingnuts in Austin sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, the propaganda tentacle of the Koch Brothers' "Kochtopus." No, what I find so curious is that spokestwit Catherine Frazier finds it so curious that these people who are being so mean to her boss should be resurrecting a speech he gave all the way back in 2010 -- you know, back when the dinosaurs were retiring to South Florida and the Pony Express was revolutionizing communications on the North American continent. Imagine, all the way back in 2010!

The obvious point to make, yet again, is that nothing drives right-wingers battier than being called to account for things they've said and done, and the farther right the winger, the battier he/she is apt to get. Why, this is . . . this is . . . borking, the most nefarious form of persecution that can be visited upon a divinely ordained right-wing crackpot. Now these are, increasingly, people who may succeed in getting through their entire political lives without ever once telling the truth about anything in public, but they go nuts when you try to get on the record the stuff they've said and done, even though it's all 100 percent true.

But for me there's something more here, going back to that "three years" business. For me there's an unmistakable suggestion that right-wingers believe there's some sort of term limit on accountability for batshit craziness. Apparently you can say stuff that's absolute, flagrant nonsense, and after a while it can't be held against you, it's just some ol' stuff you said. I don't know how long a while it may be -- possibly as long as three years (or two years and seven-plus months, anyway), possibly less. It may be much, much less, judging from the last two Republican presidential campaigns, when first Young Johnny McCranky and then Willard Romney insisted pretty indignantly that they couldn't be held accountable for stuff they said as recently as . . . as, well, right before you blinked your eyes just now. If the right-wing loon-pol didn't say it on his most recent breath, it doesn't count, and even then you had better check back with his "people."


So, is Crazy Ted the new McCarthy?

I've give this a lot of thought, and I've come to the conclusion that as regards smear-happy red-baiter Sen. Joe McCarthy, sure, why not? But as regards Charlie McCarthy, no, I don't think so. Charlie was considerably more dignified and civil, not to mention way smarter. I would say that a better fit for Crazy Ted would be Mortimer Snerd -- though it's still not an exact fit, since Mortimer was basically well-meaning.

As with Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd was hardly ever seen except in the company of Edgar Bergen. Do you suppose there was some kind of funny business going on with Edgar and his wooden-headed little buddies?

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At 11:04 AM, Anonymous robert dagg murphy said...

How many communists can Ted put on the head of a pin?

At 4:00 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

We'll just have to wait and see, Robert. Wait and see.


At 9:47 PM, Blogger Dennis Jernberg said...

@robert: As many as he can invent. The same way Stalin invented enemies of the revolution. Is it any wonder today's GOP is so full of ex-Communists?


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