Civility, Lying And Ted Cruz

Much has been made of Ted Cruz’s comments from the floor of the Senate this past Friday.  In summation, the Export-Import Bank’s authorization expired on June 30, 2015.  Cruz, a critic of the Bank, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell assured him in May that McConnell had no “deal” with a group of senators who wanted to revive the bank in exchange for their votes on a trade bill.  On Friday, McConnell took steps to revive the bank, leading to Cruz’s comments from the floor.  “What we saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over again was a simple lie.

What has followed since is nothing less than a circling of the wagons around McConnell, but few seem to be noticing it.  While so called “main stream”, corporatist republicans have taken to criticizing Cruz for his lack of decorum, the main stream media has focused entirely on the fact of Cruz’s comments rather than their merit.  Whether what Cruz said was appropriate is the question, not whether it was accurate and, if so, whether McConnell’s conduct should be scrutinized.  Cruz’s fellow republicans and the national media have made Cruz the focus of attention for his comments and have completely ignored the substance of the comments; McConnell’s conniving to revive the Bank.

At best, the Export-Import Bank is government meddling in free markets.  At worst, it is a conduit for corporate cronyism and the pre-selection of winners and losers by someone other than free market consumers.  That McConnell is playing fast and loose with the truth in his back room dealings in order to manipulate an effort to save the Bank illustrates the pull the likes of the Chamber of Commerce has with McConnell.

As for Cruz and the corporatist republican effort to discredit him, perhaps that wing of the party doesn’t understand that Senator Cruz has his own constituency and it does not consist of corporations who stand ready to make big campaign contributions in exchange for even bigger patronage and favoritism.  Senator Cruz’s constituency consists of individual citizens and he understands that their lives are always made better when the free market is left alone, unaffected and unmolested by special interests syphoning off patronage in the name of “promoting exports”.

Senator Orin Hatch’s comments are illustrative of the effort main stream republicans have made to discredit him.  “Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated on the campaign trail, but not in here.  We are not here on some frolic or to pursue personal ambitions. We are here because the people of the United States have entrusted us with the solemn responsibility to act on their behalf.  It is a sacred trust in which pettiness or grandstanding should have no part.

Talk about sanctimony!  One wonders whether Senator Hatch and the rest of Cruz’s detractors ever really consider their “sacred trust”.  Does Hatch think that honoring that trust requires a Senator to just keep quite when others scheme, connive and lie?  Perhaps Senator Hatch excuses such conduct so long as it occurs somewhere other than the Senate floor.  After all, that Cruz made his comments there rather than on the campaign trail seems to be the primary cause for Hatch’s concern.

This saga reflects so much of where we are as a society at large.  “Form over substance” is too often the rule; “reason” too often the exception.  Good intentions matter more than actions and results.  Pandering to the politically correct trumps objective reality.

  • A murder becomes a “hate crime” because of what motivated the perpetrator to violence.  The wrongfulness of the act of intentionally killing another human being is thereby made relative to the motivation of the perpetrator.  One who slays for money, or even to satisfy a twisted pleasure, is thereby judged by society as less culpable than one who slays in response to a twisted hatred.
  • Of course, “all lives matter”; but be careful where you say so, or else be prepared to apologize.
  • “He” must now be referred to as “she”, even though “he” is still objectively a male.
  • We must not profile for terrorists or criminals on the basis of race, gender, religion or anything else, even when we know as a matter of objective fact that members of a certain race, gender, religion, or anything else are the most likely perpetrators.

I suspect that what rankles so many about Ted Cruz is that he is decidedly not a “form over substance” guy and he won’t act as though he is.  He believes that actions and results matter more than good intentions and he won’t pretend otherwise to assuage anybody.  Objective reality greatly outweighs political correctness because he is a man of reason who values objective reality greatly and political correctness not at all.  Cruz is a man of principle, not expediency; and he is unwilling to compromise the first for the latter.

Perhaps Ted Cruz has calculated that many Americans value substance over form, results over intentions, and a demonstrable grasp of reality over a quivering deference to someone else’s notion of correct behavior and commentary.  Perhaps he believes that he and they together, might persuade still more American’s to those values.  Or perhaps he simply knows what he stands for.  In either case, he’s not likely to be silenced by adversaries pleading a loss of decorum when he judges so much more than decorum to be at stake.

As a subset of the same media that is ignoring the question of McConnell’s veracity and methods, the political pundits are unsurprisingly focusing on Cruz rather than McConnell, but their focus is obscured by virtue of looking through dual prisms. The first is the prism of the presidential election. They seem incapable of scrutinizing Cruz’s comments from any perspective other than considering his motives as they might relate to his candidacy for the presidency. The second is the prism of their own cynical echo chamber. Excepting only their consideration of leftist, statist politicians who promise “hope and change” or “the fundamental transformation of America”, it seems that once a journalist joins a national press corps, he is doomed to be blinded to any possibility that principles, rather than political expediency, might motivate the conduct of a politician. The national press, including the so called “conservative press” is missing the entire point of Ted Cruz as an elected official. He is standing for no less than a return to the original Constitution. For him, the principles of constitutionalism and real respect for popular sovereignty, like the principles of reason and objective reality, are not negotiable – not even in a run for the presidency. What a breath of fresh air. Here’s to a thousand more like him.






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