Friday, January 18, 2013

Meet Ted Cruz



Name: Ted Cruz

Position: United States Senator, Texas

Age: 42

Party: Republican

Career arc:

a. Bachelor's degree at Princeton University.

b. Law degree from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the famed Harvard Law Review.

c. Law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

d. Ran for U.S. Senate in 2012, won.


PEDIGREE:

Browse over here, and prep to be impressed.

In college, he was one of the country's top debaters (won top speaker award at the 1992 U.S. National Debating Championship AND the North American Debating Championship).

Not surprisingly, that served as a nice segue to a career in law, where he immediately made an impression as a law clerk to William Rehnquist. 

Cruz has authored more than 80 briefs before the United States Supreme Court and presented 43 oral arguments, including nine before the United States Supreme Court.

In the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, Cruz assembled a coalition of thirty-one states in defense of the principle that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms.[17] Cruz also presented oral argument for the amici states in the companion case to Heller before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

One more aside -- Alan Dershowitz calls Cruz "off-the-charts brilliant."

And one more aside -- During his first year at law school, he starred in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible."


ELECTORAL CAREER and POSITIONS:

As with just about everything else in his life, Cruz's political career has been meteoric.

He went straight from practicing law to the United States Senate in 2012 when, after a bruising, GOP primary against the establishment-backed David Dewhurst, he rolled to a 16% win in the general election.

Cruz was a Tea Party-backed candidate (btw, whenever someone writes that a candidate is a "tea party darling", you can be pretty sure they don't like the candidate and think his or her appeal is limited to monster truck voters.), and he's already provoking presidential buzz.

He's conservative as all get-out, and picked up nearly every conservative group's endorsement in his primary battle, including nods from Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Sean Hannity, Rand Paul, James Dobson, Pat Toomey, Mark Levin, Tony Perkins, and Jim DeMint.

Since his election, he's already prepping an ObamaCare repeal bill that's entirely symbolic given the Democratic majority, he's rallied to gun rights in the wake of the post-Newton crackdown, and has promised a "no" vote on Chuck Hagel, among other high-profile moves.

After Obama's recent gun control proposals, Cruz claimed that Obama was "high on his own power" and accused the president of "exploiting the murder of children".

He's also been talking eloquently about "opportunity conservatism" -- a phrase designed to stress a populist vision that's also appealing to minorities who feel disenfranchised (in fact, that phrase might be fueled by his family's story -- his dad fled Cuba with $100 in his pocket and washed dishes to pay his way through the University of Texas at Austin).

Cruz detailed that vision in a high-profile speech, recently, to the American Principles Project.

Interestingly, Politico's David Catanese wrote a piece titled, "Ted Cruz speech stokes 2016 speculation", and Cruz put the piece on his website, which might be a hint, hint of future ambitions.


SPOUSE: Heidi Nelson Cruz


She currently runs Goldman Sach's regional wealth management office in Houston, Texas, and previously worked for J.P. Morgan, and as you might expect, has done quite well for herself, financially.



Their AWWWWWW story:

It isn't quite as "awwwww-y" as some other candidate's (maybe just "aww"), but it's still worth mentioning.

The two met while Cruz was serving as a domestic policy adviser for George W. Bush's 2000 presidential run. Heidi, as it happens, also was serving as an adviser to the Bush campaign (previously, she had worked for John Ashcroft).

Apparently, magic happened, fireworks exploded, and as Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Where there is love, there is life".

(In general, don't you think most Gandhi quotes are sort of overrated? He's certainly no Oscar Wilde, although maybe it's a good thing Gandhi never said, "The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it").


WHY TED CAN WIN:

He's the complete package -- totally conservative, young, accomplished, smart, and demographic-friendly.

The experience question probably won't be a question, either. Sure, he'll only have been in the Senate a few years, but his experience prior to elective office was stellar and, by just about any account, more impressive than Obama's.

He'd rock debates, of course, having been a national champion as a college student, and GOP primaries are pretty much just a series of debates, stretched out over about nine months (Speaking of which, if you and your spouse had had sex during the first GOP debate in May, 2011, you could have given birth before the last 2012 GOP debate ended, February. And you could have called him "Newt"!).

Ted also knows how to speak to and from the heart, and as we saw last year, the empathy thing is, perhaps, the most important personal trait a presidential candidate can have.


WHY TED CAN'T WIN:

For political better or worse, Cruz will be one of conservatism's most prominent spokesmen over the next few years and as a senator from Texas, he probably won't adopt Chris Christie's increasingly moderate tone or be as measured as Paul Ryan generally is.

Whenever a cable news network wants somebody who'll deliver a dramatic quote, they'll turn to Cruz.

Cruz can afford to be as conservative as he wants to be, because he's from Texas, and he'll never be in danger of losing his Senate seat. Thus, there won't be any political check on him. That's not necessarily bad -- every bird should fly freely -- but it's not necessarily in his best interests as a national candidate.

Indeed, in terms of presidential politics, the danger is that he might become another Jim DeMint -- a guy who was far too conservative to win a presidential election because he pretty much said whatever he wanted and scored 100% from every conservative watchdog group (He was the De-Mint standard (!) for conservatism).

That being said, Cruz has something DeMint never had -- he's Latino -- so the fact he's not a white, southern, male might immunize him a bit.

Another danger -- Cruz is from Texas which feeds into the idea he's as conservative as they come, and Texas politicians might not have recovered from George W. Bush's presidency.

There's one more question hanging over Cruz, which I'm not sure will matter. He was born in Canada -- his mom was an American citizen, and his dad was Cuban.

Consequently, there have been a flood of questions over the past few months over whether Cruz does, indeed, meet the Constitution's definition of "natural born citizen." Most experts think he does, but it's a question that's out there.

The saving grace for Cruz is that birthers who attached themselves to the Obama story are much less likely to doggedly pursue the citizenship question hanging over a Republican candidate.


ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM:

He's got weak eyes and is a little chubby, but not in an endearing Christie-like way -- in a little chubby kind of way.

Compare him with Marco Rubio or Hillary Clinton -- who are both far more diminutive -- but much more V-8 (engine; not vegetable juice).

His voice is also high and nasally -- kind of like if the Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant were from Texas.

Look at this screencap and watch this video -- he looks like a Gund Teddy Bear.



I hate to be that shallow, but I'm just trying to look at Cruz through undecided voters' eyes.

In fact, you can examine him by using that term "Teddy Bear". How much "teddy" is he and how much "bear"?

For comparison, Teddy Roosevelt was much heavier on the bear side; lighter on the teddy side, even though he picked up the moniker.

For Cruz to win, he's got to be +60% bear in the teddy bear department. Personally, I think he looks/comes across about 70% teddy and 30% bear, and that ratio will have trouble getting it done when auditioning to become the most powerful person on earth.

The counter is that his general mien of teddiness might actually serve as a check to the bombs he throws. In that case, it could actually help him, but he still seems a little too doughy to win this thing.