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"When Ted Cruz lies, he appears to be praying. His lips narrow, almost disappearing into his face, and his eyebrows shift abruptly, rising like a drawbridge on his forehead into matching acute angles. He attains an appearance of supplication, an earnest desire that men and women need to listen, as God surely listens."
I keep wanting to get to "Big Dick" Cheney's apparently unexplodable heart, but stuff keeps coming up. Yesterday it was breaking news about the Rampant Rabbi vibrator. Today it's a different kind of fake sex toy: Texas Sen. Ted "Jeez, I Suck" Cruz. Specifically, there's New Yorker
film critic David Denby's "Daily Comment" blogpost "Ted Cruz: The Mask of Sincerity
It's hard for me to keep my cool when thinking about Senator Ted. Like there was the news this morning: Cruz lifts hold on FCC nomination
. This is supposed to be good news, I guess, but it just reminds me that a useless pile of puke like this so-called senator can actually place a h old on a nommination as if he were, you know, a regular U.S. senator.
You'll recall that Senator Ted's beef with the FCC chair nominee, Tom Wheeler, was that he might take steps toward requiring disclosure of the identity of sponsors of political ads -- thereby violating a bogus right to privacy that not even this institutionally democracy-hating Supreme Court believes exists in the Constitution.
In a statement, Cruz said Wheeler told him that the nominee "heard the unambiguous message" that pursing the political disclosure efforts would "imperil the Commission's vital statutory responsibilities."
"He explicitly stated that doing so was 'not a priority,' " Cruz said about Wheeler, a telecom industry veteran. "Based on those representations, I have lifted my hold on his nomination, and I look forward to working with him on the FCC to expand jobs and economic growth."
From which we may conclude that Senator Ted:
• was (and presumably still is) threatening to interfere with the FCC in exercising its "vital statutory responsibilities," and --
• has no idea what those statutory responsibilities are (hint: they do not
include expanding jobs and economic growth").
It's true that there are growing numbers of people on the Right who are anywhere from upset to mortified by the clown-of-doom antics of Senator Ted. Just today bona fide conservative Washington Post
columnist Kathleen Parker, writing about the national threat to GOP prospects posed by office-seeking pond scum like Virginia Attorney General "Cuckoo Ken" Cuccinelli ("Virginia is GOP wake-up call
"), pointed to the source of a good part of the blame for the party's current national poll disaster.
Republicans can thank their tea party constituents in the House of Representatives and the singular Ted Cruz in the Senate — the latter’s Texas ovation and Iowa stampede notwithstanding. These were the actors who forced the shutdown and who, should Republicans begin losing gubernatorial and congressional races, would be the major reason. Disgust trickles down, over and out.
Yet the slug continues to command widespread admiration (unlike that pathetic slug Utah Sen. Mike Lee
, who is apparently fighting for his political life), not to mention fear. The fear part, at least, is understandable. As David Denby writes:
His strategy is universal aggression, aimed at everyone. Well, not quite everyone -- lately, his popularity with the Tea Party cohort has increased. And at a recent rally at the convention of the Texas Federation of Republican Women, he was greeted with heated adoration. But normally Cruz resembles one of those war chariots with blades flashing from the wheels; he tries to cut up everything in his path. When things go wrong, he only sharpens the blades. From the Senate, he urged House Republicans into a government shutdown and a sustained threat not to extend the debt ceiling. When the President held firm and the Republican leadership backed down, the fallout included collapsing poll numbers for the Republican Party and the possibility, mentioned by nonpartisan political analysts, that the Democrats could pick up a serious number of seats in the House in 2014.
But, rather than acknowledge any responsibility, Cruz told Dana Bash, from CNN, that "the single most damaging thing that has happened to Republicans for 2014 is all of the Senate Republicans coming out attacking the House Republicans, attacking those pushing the effort to defund Obamacare, and lining themselves up opposite the American people." He has repeated this charge -- the betrayal, the stab in the back -- in many forms. He has been wronged, his cohort has been wronged, the American people have been wronged, traduced by weaklings and cowards in the ranks. In Cruz's rhetoric, the American people are always being wronged.
You may well ask why you would want to read a film critic -- and a not-very-good one at that -- on Ted Cruz. Well, you should read David Denby. (It may or may prove relevant that Frank Rich was, after all, a terrible theater critic.)
For one thing, in the matter of faking sincerity, and a pol's "performance" generally, it turns out to be useful to have all those decades of experience describing and actorly evaluating performances. For example, let's continue the thought from David Denby's opening paragraph, picking up just where I left off in the quote at the top of this post.
Cruz has large ears; a straight nose with a fleshy tip, which shines in camera lights when he talks to reporters; straight black hair slicked back from his forehead like flattened licorice; thin lips; a long jaw with another knob of flesh at the base, also shiny in the lights. If, as Orwell said, everyone has the face he deserves at fifty, Cruz, who is only forty-two, has got a serious head start. For months, I sensed vaguely that he reminded me of someone but I couldn't place who it was. Revelation has arrived: Ted Cruz resembles the Bill Murray of a quarter-century ago, when he played fishy, mock-sincere fakers. No one looked more untrustworthy than Bill Murray. The difference between the two men is that the actor was a satirist.
Now is that an image, or what? Bill Murray doing his "fishy, mock-sincere fakers"? No one looked more untrustworthy than Bill Murray. The difference between the two men is that the actor was a satirist.
Again, perhaps only a film critic would find Senator Ted wanting in quite this way -- that he's no Ollie North or Ronald Reagan:
Cruz is not as iconographically satisfying as other American demagogues -- Oliver North, say, whose square-jawed, unblinking evocation of James Stewart, John Wayne, and other Hollywood actors conveyed resolution. Or Ronald Reagan -- Cruz's reedy, unresonant voice lacks the husky timbre of Reagan's emotion-clouded instrument, with its mixture of truculence and maudlin appeal.
And yet, Denby says,
Cruz is amazingly sure-footed verbally. When confronted with a hostile question, he has his answer prepared well before the questioner stops talking. There are no unguarded moments, no slips or inadvertent admissions. He speaks swiftly, in the tones of sweet, sincere reason. How could anyone possibly disagree with him?
Noting Senator Ted's Baptist father, Denby cites the "evangelical cast to his language,"
but he's an evangelical without consciousness of his own sins or vulnerability. He is conscious only of other people's sins, which are boundless, and a threat to the republic; and of other people's vulnerabilities and wounds, which he salts.
And if other people "have a shortage of vulnerabilities, he might make some up," as Denby says he did with Chuck Hagel during his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearings to be secretary of defense.
Later Denby returns to Senator Ted's performance during the Hagel confirmation hearings. At the time, says Denby, "some senators suggested that his insinuating manner -- the bullying slurs, the implication of treason -- reminded them of Joseph McCarthy," and "since then, comparing him to McCarthy has become commonplace."
Denby notes the dramatic differences between McCarthy and Senator Ted in physical appearance and vocal delivery, without pointing out the obvious: that McCarthy was a demagogue for the '50s, but today's media world is something else again. Who would pay any attention today to someone who looked and sounded like Joe McCarthy?
Denby has already pointed out Cruz's vocal fluency -- fluency, I would add, that holds as long as no one actually pays attention to the sub-cretinous nonsense he's spewing, which would earn him a one-way ticket to the booby hatch. Really, it's hard to believe than any public figure could be that stupid and globally misinformed, or perhaps just that dishonest.
But when it comes to the tactics Senator Ted uses to inflame and command his public, the ghost of Joe McCarthy rises over Senator Ted's bog.
like McCarthy, he evokes a menace that is destroying the nation: Obamacare, which is killing jobs, obliterating businesses, demoralizing everyone. Obamacare is his Communism, a conspiracy that is the main impediment to economic growth. It is a malaise that is particularly hurting "single moms, Hispanics, African-Americans" -- a brazen touch on Cruz's part, since it is exactly those three groups whose interests Republican policies tend to ignore. It takes a certain ingenuity to suggest that an attempt to insure the powerless is rendering them powerless. One of Cruz's tricks is to turn his enemies' words back on them so that they stand accused in their own language. Meanwhile, he remains, at least rhetorically, invulnerable behind a mask of sincerity.
Cruz voted no on the bipartisan immigration bill, no on the farm bill, no on the continuing resolution; he voted against the confirmations of John Brennan, Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, and Jack Lew. He makes extreme demands, then accuses the other side of being unwilling to compromise, then calls his own party members cowards, and so on. The refusal to extend the debt limit endangered the American government and economy. What does Cruz want? What is he up to? The naïve may believe that all of these obstructionist moves are part of a principled opposition to Obama, the President who, in the past, inspired greater and greater outrage in Republicans in proportion to how conciliatory and mild he became. But Cruz seeks more than the humbling of the President. There are plenty of other Republicans around eager to accomplish that.
He seeks the Presidency, of course. And he appears to be doing it by sowing as much confusion and disorder as possible -- playing the joker in a seemingly nihilistic charade whose actual intent is a rational grab for power.
About this I'm not so sure. Oh, I'm sure that it's occurred to Senator Ted that, the way events have transpired, he has an honest-to-good shot at the Republican presidential nomination. But I'm not sure that's what got him into his weird political crusade. After all, it wasn't what motivated Joe McCarthy. I think that was more that he wanted to somehow feel, you know, important
, like as if he was somebody
, despite the abundant evidence that he was born and bred to be one of Nature's Nobodies.
I think Senator Ted actually has some sense of mission. Oh, not the one he prattles on about, because, as Denby points out, he has no compunction whatever about lying his stinking guts out. But you look at his even more demented father, and you get the feeling that there's something go on there. Yes, dementia, but of a kind that they know can be made to resonate with truly clueless people.
I guess by the old Roman Hruska standard, whereby mediocre people were entitled to mediocre representation all the way up to the Supreme Court, clueless people are entitled to clueless representation. And Senator Ted is just the man to provide it.
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Labels: conservatives vs reactionaries, FCC, Joe McCarthy, Ken Cuccinelli, Ted Cruz