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Hullabaloo


Thursday, July 18, 2013

 
Cruz control

by digby

If you too have wondered why in the world both Ted Cruz and Rand Paul agreed to co-sponsor the Military Sexual Assault bill, Adele Stan has the answer:

They make an odd senatorial trio, there’s no doubt: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Tea Party favorite; Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the neo-libertarian firebrand; and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the liberal champion of justice for sexual assault victims. But at a press conference (video here) on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the three stood together in support of Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), which would remove the reporting and prosecution of sex crimes from the chain of command, a measure staunchly opposed by leaders of the armed forces.

In joining with Gillibrand to support the MJIA, Cruz and Paul, both regarded as contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, likely hope to convey some compassion for women, especially since both men hold stringent anti-choice positions—as in no exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the woman.

Cruz would allow a narrow exception for a threat to the life of the woman, while the position held by Paul, who authored the unsuccessful “Life at Conception Act,” has become a bit murky since his March interview with CNN, in which he used vague language about how “every individual case is going to be different.”

Their alliance with the New York Democrat also shores up both men’s reputations as mavericks who are unafraid of bucking the Republican establishment as they set out to charm the right-wing base that will turn out for GOP presidential primary races, while simultaneously helping Gillibrand buck her own party’s leaders.
Big of them to support a bill to prevent military women from being raped by the thousands.  I guess that's what passes for "moderate" cred in the GOP these days.

This is all very interesting, particularly in light of this fascinating article about the logic of a Cruz run by Rich Yeselson:
Cruz is arguably the most compelling conservative political activist/intellectual since William F. Buckley in his heyday at the National Review and on the public affairs show “Firing Line.” Cruz’s intellectual pedigree is both deeply meritocratic and deeply ideological. He was a star student at every level. His father, Rafael, the Cuban émigré who grew to despise the Fidelistas he once fought with, urged Cruz to steep himself in the canon of Western conservative thought. Cruz went onto Princeton, and his mentor was perhaps the leading conservative intellectual in academia, Robert George. He then attended Harvard Law School where, like Barack Obama, he served on the law review. Like Buckley and Obama, Cruz has a silver tongue, as anybody who has listened to him on the floor of the Senate can attest. The fact that he was a champion debater at Princeton, and later, as Texas solicitor general and in private practice, a very skilled appellate lawyer who has argued eight cases before the Supreme Court, merely ratifies a legitimately earned expertise.

So Cruz has a great delivery system — he’s got the perfect rhetorical combination of having a coherent worldview that he can transpose for voters into demotic, accessible language. One can see that even when he’s casually accusing Chuck Hagel of giving aid and comfort to the North Koreans — part of the reason he outrages his colleagues is that he already commands the Senate floor and the media. And what he is delivering is the perfect exemplification of the entire panoply of Republican base politics, or, if you prefer, tea party politics (Which, by the way, is merely another name for a reconsolidated umbrella coalition of all the deeply held beliefs of the GOP base over the past several decades — nothing new under the sun.)

What this means is that Cruz embodies the unique parameters of American conservatism, which are considerably different than those of its peer political expressions in other advanced countries. European rightists are far less religious and far more statist than are their American Republican counterparts — no other rightist party in the advanced world, for example, would dream of continuing a relentless, rearguard opposition to universal health insurance. Thus the U.S. Republican base weds a religiously driven cultural anxiety about changes in the norms of gender relationships (in this, the most religious country among the peer democracies) to an ultra-libertarian opposition to taxes; income transfers and other benefits to poor people; and environmental, consumer, and labor regulation of companies. Only in the United States are the libertarian acolytes of Ayn Rand also, unlike the militantly atheist Rand, religiously devout.

Yes, I realize that he is a nutcase who has no chance, yadda, yadda yadda. But I think it's a good idea to keep your eye on dangerous people like this. Things happen. Economies crumble, wars start. You don't ever want dangerous demagogues on a national ticket. Ever. It's too big of a risk.

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