To be sure, his positions are carefully crafted and somewhat nuanced. He wants America to avoid unnecessary wars, but also to demonstrate strong moral clarity. He doesn’t talk about nation building or adventurism, but seems ready to do whatever it takes to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
If it sounds like Cruz wants to have his cake and eat it to, it’s important to note that he is attempting to walk the same line as Ronald Reagan. Now, the notion of yet another Republican attempting to emulate the Gipper may sound hackneyed or facile, but it might also perfectly suit today’s challenges. “Reagan was rhetorically hawkish, as Jim Antle recently told me, but “in actions [he was] very prudent — very cautious about using military force.”
In this regard, Cruz’s positioning himself in the Reagan space is both obvious and brilliant. It allows conservatives to embrace patriotism and American exceptionalism — without advocating for a police-state or getting involved in unnecessary wars. Plus, in Reagan’s case it actually worked.