By James Moore
I don’t like Ted Cruz. And there are a lot of Texans who share my sentiment. But I’ve been writing and reporting on politics here since 1975, and I can assure anyone who asks that I’ve never encountered a public figure I’ve found more reprehensible than our junior senator.
Harsh words, eh? Consider the facts.
Let’s start with his faux religious fervor. Cruz may know the difference between two and Second Corinthians and is smart enough to keep his donation off of the communion tray, but he skipped the gospel about charity. As he was preparing to run for the U.S. Senate in 2009-10, Cruz’ adjusted gross income for those two years was $3.5 million. His cash contributions during that time period were $19,137 and $4,818 and were listed on his FEC filing as “various charities.” That’s .0068 of his total income.
And not a penny was given to a church.
But the senator knows the value of Christian evangelism to his party’s activists, the people who vote in primaries, and the more involved he got in running for president the more interested he became in religion. In fact, during his time as Texas solicitor general, which ended in 2008, one of the aides he worked with said, “He was never particularly religious as far as I knew. I’m not even sure he went to church.” But now, according to his wife, Cruz is about to reveal the “face of god” to Americans.
And his father Rafael’s rhapsodic descriptions of his son make the senator sound like the next carpenter from Galilee sent to save us from bad morals and big government.
The elder Cruz has an immigrant history that his son has tried to muddle as he positions himself as the hero standing at the border to stop the unwashed hordes invading America. Rafael fought for a while on the side of Fidel Castro in the revolution to overthrow the U.S. backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Bautista, not something South Florida’s conservative Cuban immigrants probably ought to learn.
The senator, who is also an immigrant from Canada, where he was born, has sought to avoid the contradictions of his background as he attempts to portray himself as tough on immigration law. But this seminal issue is the iconic example of how Cruz parses language and barbers the truth to suit his narrative, hoping no one will notice. In 2013, he sponsored parts of the immigration bill, including amendments that would have provided a path to legal status to help those “11 million that remain in the shadows.”
Two years later, however, as he was firing up his presidential engines, the senator proclaimed, “It is not accurate” to claim “that I supported legalization.” He makes this statement even though there are amendments to the 2013 bill with his name on them as author, which offer a route to legalization.
Instead, he now wants to be president so he sees a border wall from the Gulf of Mexico to the sunny shores of California because that’s what the right edge of his party wants, and they are the people who control the GOP primary process. The conciliator has become Mr. Border Tough Guy in his pandering for votes.
Cruz even lies about telling the truth. “I have endeavored to do what I said I was going to do and I have always told the truth.” Well, not really, not according to Politifact Texas, which checks the accuracy of political claims. Cruz fares quite poorly on facts with 64% of his statements falling into categories ranging from “half true” “to mostly false” to “false” to “pants on fire.”
This makes his lying a cynical tactic, thus far, unfortunately, without real consequences.
Of course, it should be noted that we Texans are not experts on Ted Cruz. He appears to have departed for Iowa shortly after he took the oath of office. If anyone had bothered to log the senator’s hours of service, they’d probably discover he has seen more corn than cactus while on the Texas taxpayer’s payroll.
Cruz has only visited the Mexican border six times and has never stayed 24 hours. I know from personal experience that at least three of those were coordinated with fundraising events at a country club near McAllen. If only the low income and disadvantaged people living in the Rio Grande Valley had been smart enough to hold “first-in-the-nation” caucuses they’d get real representation.
Rafael “Ted” Cruz, the first latino to win a presidential primary contest, is a profound political opportunist who lies even when it is simpler to speak the truth. Every statement he makes and position he holds is calculated for effect, and lacks principle. Cruz sniffs the political winds even better than one of his most famous Texas U.S. Senate predecessors, LBJ, who ended up as president. But be forewarned: If Cruz learns tomorrow that a great movement is sweeping America and millions of people suddenly enjoy killing puppies, he will be for it and will defy government regulation to control puppy killing.
So anyone considering voting for him has to ask, “Who is Teddy Texas?” The unavoidable answer is that he’s actually anyone or anything you want him to be.
As long as you aren’t concerned about the truth.