Following a recent round of PPP polling which showed Texas Senator Ted Cruz firmly in the top tier of GOP presidential candidates, Allahpundit provided a lengthy and well thought out analysis of how real and durable these numbers might be. (Short version: don’t expect him to fall out of the upper ranks just because more people officially get into the race.) It’s true that Cruz saw a bump from his official announcement, but the renewed and increased media attention he’s been receiving has expanded his name recognition, and with it his potential donor pool. Liberals have predicted – in a hopeful fashion – that with a bit more scrutiny, Ted Cruz would flame out. The new reality is that they, along with their celebrity spokesmodels on cable news, are beginning to realize that they have a serious problem.
In the beginning of Cruz’s journey onto the national stage, I fully confess that I fell rather easily into the narrative which the Texas Democrats had been pushing out to the national press. All I really knew was that he was engaged in a contentious primary against an establishment figure in the Lone Star State and he was the Tea Party favorite. No matter who won that race, they would be the next senator so it really didn’t grab my attention. But the storyline being pitched was a common one: Ted Cruz was one of those crazy guys.
Even after he won his seat, the media was keeping up the drumbeat, frequently abetted by senior members of his own party. (Wacko Birds, anyone?) But long before it was certain that Cruz might run for the White House, he began defying the narrative media formula. Those of us who didn’t know him were expecting the avalanche of stories which would erode his status as a serious politician. The problem is, they didn’t happen. Where were the “gaffes” we were all promised? He was supposed to come out and immediately begin screaming about the President being from Kenya, saying that women should enjoy being raped and calling for the South to secede again.
Unfortunately for the cable news talking heads, it never happened. Cruz staked out a number of domestic and foreign policy issues and began beating the drum with his own proposals for how to meet those challenges. The media seemed to shoot themselves in the foot by tripping over each other to give the Senator air time, waiting for the expected crazy to emerge. There were times when his tactics were fairly brought under scrutiny, such as his approach to the budget battles / government shutdown situation, but that was a difference in opinion on legislative strategy, not the hoped for wild man moments. In the end, all they came up with was a recitation of a Dr. Seuss book during a filibuster, but anyone who looked briefly beyond the dishonestly edited clips on TV saw that it was actually a short message to beloved children. Not exactly the stuff of which career crashes are made.
Slowly but surely, Cruz began winning over some of the more open minded and scaring those who would like to see him fail. After a rather epic battle with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski over the letter to Iran, the panel began discussing Cruz’s viability. The all too predictable Donny Deutsch tried to immediately dismiss him as a joke, calling him “the Sarah Palin of this election.” But Mika had talked to Cruz a few times by then and was forced to take the counter argument.
“Character. Exactly,” Deutsch replied. “There’s no such thing as climate change… basically his first few years in the Senate is basically no legislation, this is a complete obstructionist, this is not what this country is all about. You’ve done nothing but run for president. I find him offensive. I find him completely against the grain of where this country wants to go.”
Brzezinski replied, “I wouldn’t underestimate him. I think he’s really really smart,” before adding, “I don’t agree with a single thing he says.”
Mika wasn’t the only one. Cruz has not shied away from the press one bit, no matter how much of a lion’s den he’s entering. Rather than hiding out and only doing shows on Fox News, he’s taken the battle into the enemy camp. And so far, as near as I can tell, nobody has landed a glove on him in a significant way. Now he’s moved up into the front runner category, and the press is beside itself.
What can one do about Ted Cruz if he stubbornly refuses to implode? Stay tuned. I’m starting to think that this race is going to be a lot more interesting than I originally suspected.