Cruz’s contribution to Thank You, President Bush [a campaign book] is titled “The Rise of Opportunity Conservatism,” and it’s notable both for the intensity and focus of its lionization of Bush. Over the course of the chapter, Cruz defends against conservative criticism of the president’s fiscal policy; heralds him as an “outspoken defender” of school choice while lauding his education reforms; and compares Bush’s presidential legacy to those of Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln.In some cases, Cruz’s praise in the book stands in direct contradiction with his more recent criticism of the Bush administration. . . .The [Cruz] chapter concludes with a Cruzian flourish of dramatic rhetoric, placing the political fights of 2004 in a sweeping historical context, as though the fate of the republic hinged on the outcome of the election. In this context, Bush is described not just a lesser-than-two-evils “career politician,” but as a hero and savior.
Who writes something like that? A supremely ambitious man, who does not have the ability to generate loyalty, affection and camaraderie through ordinary means. Someone who will say anything to advance his career. Someone who intensely advocates whatever is momentarily advantageous. The result was predictable:
Cruz’s contribution to the book at the time rankled many of his former colleagues in the Bush administration, according to two sources familiar with the situation. They felt he was straining to suggest a proximity and importance to the president that he never had. Unlike his wife — who ascended to an important post in the National Security Council directly under Condoleezza Rice, and who also contributed a chapter to the book — Ted Cruz never really thrived in the administration, shuffling between various low-profile jobs before finally fleeing Washington, leaving a trail of unfavorable impressions in his wake. And yet somehow he maneuvered his way into a book alongside GOP pre-eminences.
What is especially sad — and fitting — is that for all Cruz’s kiss-uppery, President George W. Bush says “I just don’t like the guy.” It is not hard to see why.
In the Senate he could not lead his peers. He could only savage them in order to make himself look good. He decried them for not following his crazy shutdown scheme. He meddled in the House to cause disruption there. He basks in the glory of phony accomplishment — although “standing and fighting” isn’t an accomplishment, of course. There too he is virtually friendless, and increasingly ignored.
On the campaign trail, this twice-decreed Ivy Leaguer now plays second fiddle to Donald Trump. Oozing praise and refusing to denounce any position no matter how bizarre and repulsive, Cruz scrounges for acceptance from low-information voters. He eschews intelligent policy for simplistic buzz words (Amnesty! End the IRS! Washington cartel!). Other Republicans are really doing the Democrats’ work, he declares. He won’t even acknowledge that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is a conservative. What a guy, huh?
Winston Churchill put it, “The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet.” So too with Cruz. He knows no other method of interacting with peers. His behavior makes him a completely ineffective lawmaker, but then his aim is not to make laws. His personality and character defects would make it impossible for him to govern. How could he, after vilifying virtually everyone in both parties? He’ll strain to get into the good graces of Trump and his followers, just like he tried in the Bush administration. (See, see — I’m just like you!)
Winning the nomination of a national party, bringing a party together, forcing common purpose with a sophisticated policy vision? Forget it. In being only and always about himself, Cruz makes it impossible to attain his highest aspirations. Call it political karma.