Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


Critiquing Ted Cruz

By Rob Tenery, MD on March 16, 2016

 Politics is a rough business. Those who throw their hat in the ring must expect severe scrutiny of not only their past record, but their life in general. Knowingly false accusations are clearly wrong, but bending the truth to the point that it could create doubt seems to be the norm. The candidate can bend the truth to their advantage, while the opponent can bend that same truth to their advantage as it suits their needs. Both perspectives can be true--- almost.

In the ideal, disagreement between candidates for the same position should be based solely on policy. The example of the liberal approach is for the ‘haves’ to give up some of what they have to those who have less. While the conservative would still respect the needs of those that have less, but would approach fulfilling their needs by providing opportunities for improvement.  Unfortunately, those disagreements too often go a step further, by demonizing their different perspectives, or the candidates themselves. Candidate for President, Republican Senator Ted Cruz is a perfect example of demonization by those who disagree with him.

Last week, the Florida Sun Sentinel warned potential voters that "Ted Cruz is anti-Washington, makes decisions based on the Bible, does not compromise on social issues and was willing to shut down the government for 16 days. Cruz is quoted as ‘America’s economy be dammed.’ Cruz scares us. He also should scare Republicans who want to win in November. Cruz has not earned your trust."

Reporting of loans: Looking at the multiple criticisms leveled at Senator Cruz is very revealing. First, the criticism is that he misled the electorate and the Federal Election Commission concerning loans he took out in his race for the U.S. Senate. The New York Times published a report revealing that Cruz received low-interest loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank, for as much as one million dollars, while he was running to represent Texas in the Senate. He did not, however, report the loans to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), as required. Sen. Ted Cruz says that his failure to properly disclose a low-interest loan he received from his wife's employer, Goldman Sachs, for his 2012 Senate campaign (who took a leave of absence during his campaign) amounts to an "inadvertent filing error."

"We had a brokerage account that has a standard margin loan like any brokerage account has, and we borrowed against the stocks and assets that we had under ordinary terms," he said. "And so those loans had been disclosed over and over and over again on multiple filings. If it were the case that they were not filed exactly as the FEC requires, then we'll amend the filings, but all of the information has been public and transparent for many years."

Senate filibuster: Based on his campaign pledge for the U.S. Senate to dismantle Obamacare, Cruz explained his reasoning for his 21-hour filibuster was to block the Senate Democrats’ attempt to use their majority to swiftly vote down the House-approved plan -- which was to fund the entire federal government, except Obamacare, before the Oct. 1 deadline.* “If Senate Republicans stand together, we can stop (Majority Leader) Harry Reid,” said Cruz. “If the majority is going to run over the minority with a train, then the minority has the ability to stop them,” he said. “A vote for cloture is a vote for Obamacare.” Rather than demonizing him for his position, this appears to be an example of Cruz adhering to his campaign pledge to stop Obamacare. As it also turned out, he came up against the ‘establishment’ of his own party that feared repercussions from a possible temporary government shutdown, even though virtually every Republican member of Congress had campaigned on blocking Obamacare.

ISIS response: ‘Carpet-bombing’ is a specific term used by Cruz that has sparked some criticism. “If I am elected President, we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion,” said Cruz. In a debate in December, his comments suggested his approach would resemble an expanded version of the current war in Iraq, with Special Operations troops directing airstrikes with precision. “You would carpet-bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed--- and you have embedded special forces to direct the air power. But the object isn’t to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.”

Religious preference: Ted Cruz’s faith seems to explain his opinions on gay marriage and abortion. His strong Christian faith seems rooted from his parents, both of whom grew up in Catholic families. Due to bad drinking habits, Cruz’s father left the family, but returned when he saw ‘the err of his ways’, giving his life to Jesus. Due to his father’s influence, Cruz has aligned himself with the evangelical wing of the Christian faith. The term Dominionism is applied to conservative Christians, which include other well-known evangelicals such as Pat Robertson, Sarah Palin and Governor Rick Perry.

The Florida Sun Sentinel warning, that Ted Cruz, making decisions based on the Bible, was troubling, is itself troubling. The religions of Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and most Muslims share two positions in common, they all answer to their creator and they advocate for a ‘greater good’. One of the reasons this country is strong because it allows religious diversity. We may not want those who represent us to interject their religious beliefs into their decisions, but trust that they will call on their faith as they carry out their duties.

Gay marriage: The New York Times story reported that Ted Cruz attended a reception held for him in a Manhattan apartment owned by two prominent gay hoteliers. According to two people present, Mr. Cruz said he would not love his daughters any differently if one of them were gay. He reportedly only said that marriage is an issue that should be left to the states. "It speaks volumes that The New York Times considers it newsworthy that a Republican who believes marriage is between a man and a woman would meet with people who hold a different view," Cruz said. He added that by attending the gathering, he proved he was a big tent Republican’--- willing to broaden his Party’s base.

Abortion: Ted Cruz supports companies having the right to deny their employees coverage for birth control measures. He opposes public funding for abortion and churches providing birth control. He supports a ban on partial-birth abortion.

Dirty tricks: The charges of ‘dirty tricks’ leveled at Cruz by Donald Trump during this current campaign, seem to be more errors in judgment by individual members of his staff, than surreptitious policies by Cruz himself. In fact, Cruz did let his communication director go and personally apologized to Dr. Ben Carson for any damage that had come from Trump’s allegations.

Summarizing Ted Cruz as a candidate for President--- he clearly seems to be the most knowledgeable about the issues of the candidates in either party, and he is uncompromisingly loyal to the promises he made when campaigning for the U.S. Senate. Even though he currently serves in Congress, he remains anti-establishment, as demonstrated by the disdain many of his fellow Republicans hold for him.  

Whether Cruz wins his quest for the Presidency, or not, he has become the leader of the conservative movement. If he has a fault, it would be his inability to compromise. In recent times there are two Presidents who stood out, because they were able to reach accord with their opposition: Ronald Reagan with Tip O’Neil and Bill Clinton with Newt Gingrich. Cruz doesn’t appear to fit the mold of either!

This country is ‘broken’ in many different ways. It’s not only that we desperately need a President who can lead us in the right direction. But he or she also needs to bring this country together. With all his knowledge, if Ted Cruz can’t even get the support of the majority of his fellow Republicans in the Congress, it either means that he is not the right person for the job, or, it’s time for an overhaul of the ‘Grand Old’ Republican Party.

* According to the Daily Kos, the costs generated by Cruz’s filibuster were $182,700.  

 

 

 





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