Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cruz And Trump-- Not Really That Much Of A Stretch


Saturday afternoon Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith interviewed Ted Cruz in front of a lively audience in Austin, Texas' capital city, famously described as a big blue dot in a sea of red. When Cruz ran for the Senate he lost Austin-- badly. Travis County gave his opponent, Paul Sadler 224,070 votes (59%) and gave Cruz 133,354 (35%)-- around the same outcome that Obama and Romney had the same day. Austin voters believe in science and knowledge and don't believe in the hogwash that conservative ideologues like Ted Cruz peddle. To stifle it's voice and minimize it's electoral impact, Austin in divided up between 4 congressional districts. One of the congressmen-- far right Republican Lamar Smith, a Trump fanatic, was on the ballot that same day. He won his district, TX-21 61-35% but the Travis County part of the district was a nightmare for him. He lost in his part of Travis County 48,104 (61%) to 25,607 (32%) to Candace Duval, who spent $56,932 to Smith's $1,705,681. Point being: Austin might not be the best audience for Senator Cruz. So I applaud him for going to the University of Texas' Hogg Memorial Auditorium to be grilled-- and he was grilled-- about why he endorsed Trump. Evan Smith did a really good job.

Cruz admitted his decision to endorse Trump was "agonizing." Why agonizing? Check out the video at the bottom of the page. But why did he do it? One-- he gave his word that he would endorse the winner of the GOP primary process, and, two-- he asked the campaign to guarantee him that they would pick Supreme Court nominees from an expanded list (21) of far right judicial extremists-- and they did. If you believe in Ted Cruz and his hope about being a principled, freedom-loving conservative, the story ends there.

If on the other hand, you see Cruz as a crass and craven politician, who was staring at the end of his career after he tried the principled freedom-loving shtik in Cleveland, only to see it collapse catastrophically as Texas Republicans began openly debating who would be a better candidate to take him down in 2018, Rick Perry or Michael McCaul. Parenthetically, McCaul, who married into the Clear Channel fortune and is now one of the richest men in Congress, also has a chunk of Austin in his congressional district and of the 7 counties in the district only Travis County voted against him-- 51,121 (55%) for Tawana Cadien, an African-American nurse, to 37,302 (40%) for him. Cadien had spent $51,855 against McCaul's $1,075,667. On his Facebook post endorsing the same Trump he asserted "is a pathological liar" who "doesn't know the difference between truth and lies," one of his excuses for the endorsement was the time-honored conservative shibboleth-- he prayed on it. Yeah... God wants Ted Cruz to endorse the pathological liar.

Anyway, if you don't see Cruz as the prayerful idealist, you might see that he decided to take the gamble that he'll be accepted back into the Republican mainstream fold now that he's kissed and made up with The Donald. Starting with Austerity-obsessed Paul Ryan, the party establishment has normalized Trump and successfully moved to paint him-- often against his will-- into a Republican-in-good-standing. The GOP grassroots now overwhelming sees him as such. Cruz keeps saying something to the effect of that no matter what one thinks of Trump, Hillary is the greater of two evils. More and more Republicans have been doing so in the last month. Cruz just came late to the party. Oh-- and that party is presided over by Cruz's biggest life-time donor, right-wing sociopath and hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer-- who also happens to be Trump's biggest donor and who was loudly pissed off that Cruz wasn't on board.

Glenn Beck says he now wishes he had backed Rubio instead of Cruz. His idol cracked! "For the very first time I heard Ted Cruz calculate. And when that happened, the whole thing fell apart for me. And it’s my fault. It’s my fault for believing men can actually be George Washington. It’s my fault. I should have said, 'You know who can win? You know who can beat Hillary Clinton? Marco Rubio.'"

And the most recent poll of Texas voters shows, predictably enough, the state firmly in Trump's hands-- 42% to 36% among likely voters. Perhaps more concerning to Cruz, though, were the unfavorable numbers immediately before his prayers told him to endorse Trump. "Extremely unfavorable" among likely Texas voters:
Cruz- 33%
Senator John Cornyn- 11%
Governor Greg Abbott- 16%
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick- 18%
Attorney General Ken Paxton- 13%
Obama- 40%

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