Ted Cruz and The Diabolical Enemy

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz made a somewhat uncomfortable appearance on the Stephen Colbert show this past week. I say “uncomfortable” not because Cruz was caught off guard or unsure of himself, but because the studio audience was pretty loudly, audibly hostile to him. In fairness, Colbert asked them to stop actually saying “Boo” at one point, but his own sympathies are in fact pretty liberal, so he tried to get in his share of cutesy zingers during questioning (some of which actually fell embarrassingly flat, not that the audience would have admitted it).

Still, Cruz handled himself in a relaxed, gracious manner that I think came off well. The biggest “joke’s on you” moment for Colbert came when Cruz was laying out a list of principles he stands for, like economic stewardship and respect for the constitution. Colbert interjected, “And no gay marriage.” Cruz decided to say that he believed according to the Constitution, marriage should be left to the states, whereupon Colbert showed his ignorance of the 10th Amendment by interrupting again, “Yeah, the Constitution doesn’t say anything about gay marriage.” “Exactly,” replied Cruz. See Amendment 10. Oops.

But I confess that I came away a little bit disappointed with Cruz overall, which surprised me. While Colbert eventually asked him point-blank on the marriage issue, “I’m asking what you want,” he didn’t really answer the question directly. This would have been a perfect opportunity for Cruz to state plainly that marriage is between a man and a woman and that it would in fact be disastrous even on a state level to re-define it. He chose instead to focus on the “5 robed men in Washington can’t make fiat law” angle, which is certainly a good and important point to make, but it’s not sufficient to address the whole issue.

This rhetorical reserve is connected to another little exchange, where Colbert questioned him about political civility. He asked whether Cruz would agree that it’s important not to call his political opponents “the devil” or “diabolical,” in the interests of bi-partisan collaboration. “Absolutely. There’s nothing diabolical about you,” said Cruz equably. He also agreed that his Democratic opponents aren’t “diabolical.”

I realize this was the rhetorically suave path to take, but I would have liked to see Cruz give some push-back on this point as well, especially in the aftermath of this ongoing Planned Parenthood scandal. The evil on display in these videos truly is diabolical, and yet every Democrat in the House and Senate has voted against a bill to cut funding for the organization. I’m sorry to say Rand Paul voted against it too, though he said it was because some other aspect of the bill would create more debt, not because he disagreed that Planned Parenthood should be shut down. I’m still disappointed. However, it’s safe to say that the Democrats are pretty much universally pro-abortion. And at this point, I think it’s also safe to say that they are doing the devil’s work by banding together in support of Planned Parenthood. I think it’s been safe to say it for decades, but all the more so now that the light is being shone on even deeper layers of evil, lies and corruption.

What Cruz should have said is this: “Well, Stephen, I don’t know. Why don’t you give me an example, and I’ll tell you if I agree or not?” Instead, he talked about not responding to “insults” in kind, which isn’t even the same thing. It’s one thing to make an inappropriate, petty attack on somebody’s person, as has doubtless happened to Cruz. It’s another thing to make a pointed, accurate accusation of evil.

If there was ever a time to take the kid gloves off and put the boxing gloves on when it comes to the rhetoric of political discourse, this is it. Yes, I realize Colbert framed these questions by asking Cruz to make the case for why non-conservative voters should consider him, and a truly hardball answer like what I’ve sketched out would most likely alienate such voters. But so what? Non-conservative voters will never consider a conservative candidate anyway, no matter how much his policies align with what’s actually in their own best interests morally, economically, etc. Pigs will fly before that happens. So why bother being suave?

I’m still happy with the idea of a Cruz primary win, and I have hopes that he might still go all the way. But this is the wrong socio-political moment for him to pull his punches. It’s okay Ted, you can say it out loud: The enemy is diabolical.

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One thought on “Ted Cruz and The Diabolical Enemy

  1. John

    What I am about to say is my opinion only. I am not trying to pick a fight or start an argument here.

    It is possible to be on the right side of an argument, and yet react in a way which may be short-sighted. For example, in the 1980s, many Christians were involved in picketing abortion clinics, blocking entrances, trespassing on private property, and even getting arrested intentionally in their stand against abortion. They had the right position on abortion. Yet in the long haul, it is doubtful whether they saved many lives, and they certainly did much to smear the reputation of all Christians as radical extremists. At the same time, another group of Christians was quietly and proactively starting crisis pregnancy centers, to minister to pregnant women, encourage them to keep their babies, put them in contact with adoption agencies when necessary, and help them with needed supplies and medical help. Some of them even continued to minister to women who chose abortion anyhow.

    Both groups were on the right side of the issue, yet their reactions and the consequences of those reactions were very different.

    Back to Ted Cruz — Cruz is unquestionably on the right side of many (most) issues. My problem with him is that some of his reactions may take a stand, yet they are short sighted. Shutting down the government to take a stand about not funding planned parenthood is a sure way to get Hillary Clinton elected the next president. Threatening to rip a bad agreement to shreds on your first day in office — no matter how bad it is or how much it needs to be dramatically changed — could start World War 3. Staying up all night on the senate floor to stall a vote didn’t accomplish much. In short, Cruz needs to learn how to apply his positions — which are usually the right positions — in a more diplomatic way without being so reactionary. As much as we may not like it, politics is all about give and take, trying to find some common ground in order to get “something” accomplished. Having a “my way or the highway” attitude doesn’t usually work in American politics today.

    I hope Ted Cruz keeps his convictions, because they are usually right, but I also hope he learns to work with the system — albeit flawed — that makes up our American democracy. He has too much to offer than to squander it with reactionary tactics which are only hurting his own ability to lead.

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