Listen America, Trump is Just Embarrassing. Cruz is Scary

Schutze is the columnist for New Times’ sister newspaper in Texas, the Dallas Observer.

Dear Republicans:

Let me get this straight. You want to take back Donald Trump. You want to take Trump off the table. But you want to give us Ted Cruz instead.I know you’re not totally insane. Your problem is that many of you are not from Texas. You don’t really know Ted Cruz. Recently, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told CNN: “Ted and I are in the same party. Donald Trump is an interloper.”

Senator Graham, please listen to me. You and Donald Trump are from the same planet. Cruz is the interloper.

May I bore you with a bit of backstory? The first part of this you already know. In 2010, then-Republican Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison told the Texas party leadership she wanted to come back to Texas and be governor.

In that bygone era, the leaders of the party here in Texas were mostly associated with an antique tribe known as “the Bushes.” The Bushes were never comfortable with the incumbent governor Rick Perry because he was a real cowboy, and they just pretended to be.

The Bushes went to Perry, thanked him for his service, and told him they were giving his job to Kay. He probably was about to step down from the 2010 election, when a crazy Rasputin-like polling guru from New Hampshire named Dave Carney showed up and told Perry he’d had a vision about a thing called “the Tea Party.” He said it was about to explode over the Texas political horizon like an A-bomb, but it was still invisible to the Bushes. 

Carney persuaded Perry to give it a try. To summon this new dark force, Perry, who had always been sort of a middle-of-the-road, go-along, crony-capitalist, opportunistic, moderate country boy, needed to create the impression that he was totally insane.

So he did it. Perry proposed that as governor, he would invade Mexico. Then, he said Texas should consider seceding from the Union. Oh my God! He shot up in the polls almost overnight, from lagging behind Hutchison to a double-digit lead.

Perry, who always had tagged along at the very bottom of the Republican ticket in prior elections, stomped Hutchison at the polls in his first-ever landslide victory. The force was with him!

After that, we saw the unfortunate business in which Carney persuaded Perry to run for president, and then we had “oops,” and then you know the rest. But here is what you don’t know.

All the while, when Perry was doing his totally whacked-out Tea Party shtick and winning, he was scrutinized closely by Ted Cruz and Cruz’s homophobic, climate-change-and-evolution-denying, commie-hating, ultra-right-wing, scary-damn Cuban father whom you always see in Cruz election headquarters photos hanging from the back wall like a gargoyle atop Notre Dame.

The Cruzes were not shtick. They weren’t Rick Perry trying to fake his way from the center out into cuckoo-land. They were trying to fake their way back into cuckoo-land from the beyond.

You people, you Republicans who think Cruz is the antidote to Trump, you don’t live in Texas, so you haven’t had a lot of opportunity to hear Cruz’s father speak or pay close attention to his behavior. Please. Google him. YouTube him. Take a look at Rafael Cruz.

One of the first YouTube items that will pop up is a strange video of Rafael Cruz, who appears to be speaking from behind a pillar or from the inside of an elephant cage. In it, he equates the United States today with Cuba under Fidel Castro (“no different”) and explains how homosexuality and evolution are subterfuges designed to bring about communist rule:

“Communism or socialism, whatever you want to call it, what’s happening in this country,” he says, “is no different than what happened in Cuba …When you hear all these things about homosexual marriage, this has nothing to do with homosexual rights ...They [couldn’t] care less about homosexual[s]. They want to destroy the family.

“It’s just like evolution. You know, most Americans have their head in the sand about evolution. I have met so many Christians that tell me, ‘Well, evolution is a scientific fact.’ Baloney!

“But you know something? Karl Marx said it. ‘I can use the teachings of Darwin to promote communism.’ Why? … If they can convince you that you came from a monkey, it’s much easier to convince you that God does not exist.”

Listen, Lindsey Graham (University of South Carolina School of Law) and Mitt Romney (Harvard Law and Business schools) and all of you Bush types (Andover and Yale), you think that Ted Cruz (Harvard Law, Princeton Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs) must have been scoured and cured somehow of his father’s outer-space political syndrome when he attended Ivy League schools.

Wow. You’ve got a lot of faith in the Ivy League. All we can tell you, here in Texas, is that you can take the boy out of outer space, but you can’t take the outer space out of the boy.

Are you not watching? Did you not notice last December, when Cruz appeared on stage in Des Moines, Iowa — his father’s face bobbing behind him like a rain-dance mask — at a conference headed up by Pastor Kevin Swanson, who reiterated his call for the extermination of homosexuals?

In fact, Cruz has been endorsed by — and has not renounced — virtually every frightening, apocalyptic, wackadoodle preacher in the land, from Mike Bickle of Kansas City, who preaches that God is going to “raise up” somebody in the End Times to hunt down all the Jews who have failed to convert to Christianity (big group), to Bob Vander Plaats of Iowa, who preaches that same-sex marriage is a satanic plot to get people to marry their own children (a theory with important missing synapses).

Then there is Phil Robertson, the ZZ Top-resembling reality TV personality from a show called Duck Dynasty, who denounces homosexuals as “wicked” and “evil” and sometimes takes the stage with Cruz while blowing urgently on a duck call.

But, wait a minute. I forgot. You don’t even know where Cruz came from, do you? He was no one and nowhere, not even a duck-sized blip on the radar, and then all of a sudden he was in the United States Senate shutting down the government.

In the 2012 Texas Republican primary runoff for the Senate nomination, which in Texas is the general election, Cruz harnessed everything good he learned at Harvard and Princeton, where he was a brilliant student, to everything dark and addled he learned from his father, who is totally nuts. Cruz brought Sarah Palin to Texas, along with RedState’s Erick Erickson; Sean Hannity of Fox News; senators Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), and Mike Lee (R-Utah); and a host of even farther-right luminaries.

He was using Perry’s playbook, in that he was riding the Texas Tea Party wave, but with a big difference. Perry’s strategy had been to watch how far right Hutchison went — and she’s pretty far right to begin with — and then go a mile farther right.

With his father hanging over his shoulder like the moon, Cruz went after the same Tea Party animus, but from the other side. He had to dial back in toward the center — lay off some of the end-times talk and try to sound like a rational human being — in order to stay far enough right of his opponent, Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, an oilman ex-CIA-agent right-winger, to kill him, but not so far right as to frighten the suburbanites.

Cruz pulled it off because he is very, very smart. But never at any moment during his Senate campaign — nor at any moment during this presidential primary race as far as we can see from here in Texas — has Cruz ever once given any indication that he does not believe in and hold to heart every single word that comes out of his father’s sorcerous mouth.

What’s going on in Texas, you ask? Yeah, no kidding. Please call, if you find out. And if we call you and say, “The man in the moon is awake,” it means, “Please come and get us right now, it’s an emergency.” We don’t know. Something weird. And Cruz and his old man are part of it.

We understand your problem with Trump. But, come on. Admit it. You’re mainly just embarrassed. You’re Republicans, and you can afford to travel. You remember what it was like to be in France when George W. was president. So now, you’re worried that when Trump is in the White House, you’ll get laughed out of sidewalk cafes in Paris. 

But, look, the problem with Cruz won’t be embarrassment. He means every single word he says. He means what he says about pushing 11 million people back across the Mexican border, about using the government to hound, harry, and herd human beings based on their sex lives, about stripping women of their physical autonomy, and about all of the superstitious claptrap that issues from his old man’s mouth on evolution, global warming, and science itself.

The Ivy League took none of that away from him. He held it dear then and holds it dear now. It’s all right there in front of you, not a millimeter beneath the surface. His only bluff is that he shows you less than his full hand, not that he fakes having more.

An orange-faced, thin-skinned, narcissistic, blowhard clown versus a truly scary, malevolent alien from the dark side. Oh, and before I forget, gee, thanks for the choice. But I gotta go with the clown. I have examined the clown pretty closely, too, and I think I can outrun him. The other guy, I’m not so sure.

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Jim Schutze
Contact: Jim Schutze