Election 2016

Is Ted Cruz As Big a Jerk as Donald Trump?

And can he win over libertarian hearts and minds despite his culture war bloviation?


Ted Cruz's response to questions about the Planned Parenthood shooter last week was vintage Cruz: He deflected attention away from pro-life violence and toward transgender lefties.

Most poll watchers agree that Donald Trump will fade in January as the reality of the actual primary season comes into focus. The also agree that Cruz has been positioning himself to pick up The Donald's followers.

Which raises the questions that undergird my latest Daily Beast column: Is Ted Cruz as big a jerk as Trump and can he woo libertarians who are willing to vote for a major-party candidate?

Like Trump, whom he refused to criticize even gently until recently, Cruz is given to cheap and crazy culture-war talk that alienates him from socially tolerant and fiscally responsible people who otherwise might be willing to consider voting for him.

When he's not taking a bold stance against unisex bathrooms and other worldly abominations, Cruz is stoking fears about the enormous problem of creeping Sharia law in America, musing that "the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats," and counting (but not naming!) the dozen Harvard law professors he claims "believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government."  

This sort of culture war crap can't be helping him with libertarians and centrists who generally dislike big government but aren't necessarily ready to sign on to Cruz's assertion that, "Any president who doesn't begin every day on his knees isn't fit to be commander-in-chief of this country."

Throw in his willingness to appear with Kevin Swanson, a pastor who advocates the death penalty for gays, and his staunch support of anti-gay-marriage country clerk Kim Davis, surely the only government employee conservatives have lauded for refusing to do her job, and Cruz's reflexive culture-war posturing will sink him among all but the most desperate GOP loyalists. 

I think that's right. Cruz's culture-war persona isn't part of who he is—it's central to who he is. He can't go more than a few sentences without bringing up god or morals or some sort of related issue that is designed to demarcate whom the Elect is (a group which always includes Cruz, by the way). And he's more than willing to change positions depending on the political winds. Hence, he pushed for Trade Promotion Authority, even writing a Wall Street Journal op-ed with Paul Ryan. A month later he voted no. A few years back, he said that birthright citizenship was no big deal; now he's on the warpath for it. He's all for cutting government, except when it's the military (and then he's ready to jack spending $190 billion over two years without making corresponding cuts).

Most importantly, he is speaking directly and exclusively to the old part of the Grand Old Party. Say what you will about Rand Paul's presidential campaign, but the eye doctor is seeing clearly when he stresses that the Republicans need to bring in a wider, more varied set of members if it wants to move into the 21st century any time before 2100. Cruz doesn't seem to give a shit on that score.

Only a few years ago, after Mitt Romney's resounding defeat at the hands of a very beatable Barack Obama, the Republican Party at least flirted with the idea of reaching out to younger, more diverse, more socially tolerant voters in a bid to drag the party into the 21st century before it was too late. With Cruz, you get almost the exact opposite. His anti-immigrant bona fides are second only to Trump's, and his religiosity ("If the body of Christ rises up as one and votes our values, we can turn this country around," he told Iowa voters last month) is second to none.

Whole thing here.

A word to the GOP: You're not going to win many more elections (if any) by attacking gay marriage, pot legalization, and transgender people. And you're not going to win any general elections by vilifying immigrants, legal or otherwise. A majority of REPUBLICAN voters—56 percent!—think illegals should be allowed to stay and given a path to legal status. But you will succeed in alienating libertarians and centrists who dislike Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders by appearing to be incredibly hostile to anything approaching pluralism.

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  1. and can he woo libertarians who are willing to vote for a major-party candidate?

    Why care about a statistically meaningless number of voters?

    1. Weren’t the people who voted for Gary Johnson the reason Obama was reelected?

      1. No, in the year when the guy who had us mired in multiple undeclared wars, assassinated an American citizen without trial, compiled a database with the phone and internet activity of every person in the U.S., and gave us Obamacare beat the guy who promised to do more of all of that, Johnson was not able to must a full 1% of the popular vote.

    2. “Why care about a statistically meaningless number of voters?”

      …who seem to be waiting for a candidate as likely to show up as a naked Scarlett Johansson riding up my driveway on a unicorn.

  2. We can only hope. Anyway, Hillary 2016, more blood for the blood god!

    1. I proposed that as a slogan for Hillary’s campaign a couple weeks ago. We can only hope it catches on.

    2. more blood for the blood god!

      Only this time, menstrual blood! Because VAGINA!

  3. Ted Cruz’s response to questions about the Planned Parenthood shooter last week was vintage Cruz: He deflected attention away from pro-life violence[sic]

    I’m beginning to believe the libwaps are becoming more and more like the Proggies with each passing minute.

    First: There’s no such thing as “Pro-life” violence. There’s the N.A.P. and then there’s aggression; a person who commits an act of naked and undue aggression cannot be deemed “pro-life” regardless of motive.

    Second, what Cruz was doing was not deflecting but merely pointing out the absurdity of jumping to a very weird conclusion right after a shooting by blaming Carly Fiorina or free speech or investigative reporting for the Planned Parenthood shooting when one could just as easily blame transgender people for the shooting because of how the alleged suspect registered for voting. It was clearly a tongue-in-cheek comment, and I say this without harboring love for the guy.

    1. Yeah, I was about to comment on that remark, myself. “Pro-life violence” is a contradiction in terms.

      And yeah, Ted Cruz was criticizing those who were jumping to conclusions before we knew any facts, and the media lost its shit over it.

      1. Funny that his criticism of jumping to conclusions gets criticized by Nick…who jumps to a conclusion in that very criticism.

        I know it’s the huuuuuuuuuuuuge cocktail party season in DC, but can we at least attempt to keep our fucking wits here and not fail like the MSM dickheads, Nick? Please? At least while you’re begging us for money anyway.

        1. dude. that is so meta

      2. “Pro-life violence” is a contradiction in terms.

        Not quite. There are just uses of violence, repayment of “debt” owed (eye for an eye) and in self defense.

        Not that any of what I’ve seen called “pro-life violence” seem to fit in any of these categories, just that it’s possible.

        1. Fair enough. Murdering people, however, is definitely not “pro-life violence.”

      3. “Pro-life violence” is a contradiction in terms.

        No, it isn’t. You are just constructing a No True Scotsman defense.

        1. I think claims of “No True Scotsman” have to be held up to greater scrutiny, but are not automatically fallacious.

          If you can demonstrate criteria which when evaluated a priori can separate True Scotsmen from the rest, and under those criteria the NTS in question can be excluded while the overarching statement about TS is still valid, then your definition of TS has predictive power and can be accepted going forward. Note that you will have to adhere to this definition consistently to avoid future claims of fallacy; you can’t turn around and start lumping in people who fail your test for the sake of convenience to your argument.

          A classic example is “No True Christian”. Someone claims to be a devout Christian then does something bad (let’s say he kills a lot of people). Then you can say he is No True Christian if you can identify criteria which, when evaluated prior to him murdering anyone, would have excluded him. However, you can’t turn around and say things like “Christianity is the world’s largest religion” unless you can show that True Christians do indeed make up the largest share of religious people.

          Basically, it’s not a fallacy if you’re intellectually consistent with your definitions.

        2. Nailed it Sug. Tim McVeigh was a libertarian, too. If you deny it, you’re just constructing a No True Scotsmen defense.

    2. We really need two reason-esque sites. One for the cosmotatians and one for the yokeltarians.

    3. It was clearly a tongue-in-cheek comment

      Agreed. You’d think by now that Republicans would have learned to avoid tongue in cheek comments that could easily be taken out of context and used to smear them. Surely they’ve learned how that game is played by now?

  4. Is Ted Cruz As Big a Jerk as Donald Trump?

    And can he win over libertarian hearts and minds despite his culture war bloviation?

    (1) Yes, and smarmier.

    (2) Some, but not all. Not me, for instance.

  5. “Ted Cruz’s response to questions about the Planned Parenthood shooter last week was vintage Cruz: He deflected attention away from pro-life violence and toward transgender lefties.”

    He really didn’t.

  6. Didn’t we agree that Cruz was making an Ironical comment?

    1. Gillespie doesn’t wade into the comments much any more. Nor apparently think about things more deeply before repeating them.

      1. Given the quality of his recent articles, staying above the line is a smart choice.

        1. I assume “Nick Gillespie” is now Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s handle. Everything he writes seems to be straight from DNC talking points these days.

  7. He deflected attention away from pro-life violence

    What substantiated instances of “pro-life violence” have taken place lately? Please show your fucking work.

    1. January 1, 2012: Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, firebombed the American Family Planning Clinic in Pensacola, Florida, with a Molotov cocktail; the fire gutted the building. Rogers told investigators that he was motivated to commit the crime by his opposition to abortion, and that what more directly prompted the act was seeing a patient enter the clinic during one of the frequent anti-abortion protests there. The clinic had previously been bombed at Christmas in 1984 and was the site of the murder of Dr. John Britton and James Barrett in 1994.[I 47]

      April 1, 2012: A bomb exploded on the windowsill of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, resulting in a fire that damaged one of the clinic’s examination rooms. No injuries were reported.

      April 11, 2013: A Planned Parenthood clinic in Bloomington, Indiana, was vandalized with an axe.[I 48]

      September 4, 2015: A Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Washington was intentionally set on fire. No injuries were reported due to the time of day, but the FBI was involved because of a history of domestic terrorism against the clinic.[I 49]

      September 30, 2015: A Planned Parenthood clinic in Thousand Oaks, California was vandalized by an arsonist or arsonists who authorities believe smashed out a window, splashed gasoline inside the clinic, and then ignited it.[I 50]

      1. Well, there’s one in that list. I’ll give you that.


        Almost four years ago.

        1. Now let’s look at the rate of violence, even if you one up with some more which I’m sure you can, that has happened per abortion or per abortion provider.

          The numbers would still be astronomically low. Hell, more mailmen probably get physically attacked on the job that abortion providers. Or process servers. Or loggers attacked by tree-hugging assholes.

          1. Mailmen and process servers don’t have a political movement based around demonizing them and making excuses for when they are murdered. And the loggers, which do, you call their opposition “assholes.

            1. Id call anybody an asshole that attacked a logger because they were cutting down a tree an asshole, yes. Same as anybody that would attack an abortion provider.

              1. I don’t think you condone this violence. But implying it doesn’t happen does the debate no good.

                1. It happens, sure. It happens in such rare instances that it is statistically insignificant. Yet the amount of coverage here it gets is considerable.

                  1. It happens so rarely that when it does it becomes a huge news story that we have to put up with for weeks.

                    1. right something is news BECAUSE it’s unusual.

        2. 7 murders since 1993, not counting Colorado.

          1. Are they all confirmed cases of pro-life violence? Where the convicted said that was their reason?

            Because if so, that’s about .32 a year. I’d be willing to wager more people have been killed over parking spaces in that time span.

            1. March 10, 1993: Dr. David Gunn of Pensacola, Florida was fatally shot during a protest. He had been the subject of wanted-style posters distributed by Operation Rescue in the summer of 1992. Michael F. Griffin was found guilty of Gunn’s murder and was sentenced to life in prison.[I 4]

              July 29, 1994: Dr. John Britton and James Barrett, a clinic escort, were both shot to death outside another facility, the Ladies Center, in Pensacola. Rev. Paul Jennings Hill was charged with the killings. Hill received a death sentence and was executed on September 3, 2003. The clinic in Pensacola had been bombed before in 1984 and was also bombed subsequently in 2012.[I 5] Neighbors and former neighbors described the suspect as “reclusive”,[I 6] and police from several states where the suspect resided described a history of run ins dating from at least 1997.[I 7]

              December 30, 1994: Two receptionists, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, were killed in two clinic attacks in Brookline, Massachusetts. John Salvi was arrested and confessed to the killings. He died in prison and guards found his body under his bed with a plastic garbage bag tied around his head. Salvi had also confessed to a non-lethal attack in Norfolk, Virginia days before the Brookline killings.[I 5]

              1. January 29, 1998: Robert Sanderson, an off-duty police officer who worked as a security guard at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, was killed when his workplace was bombed. Eric Robert Rudolph, admitted responsibility was also charged with three Atlanta bombings: the 1997 bombing of an abortion center, the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing, and another of a lesbian nightclub. He was charged with the crimes and received two life sentences as a result.[I 8]

                October 23, 1998: Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot to death with a high-powered rifle at his home in Amherst, New York. His was the last in a series of similar shootings against providers in Canada and northern New York state which were all likely committed by James Kopp. Kopp was convicted of Slepian’s murder after being apprehended in France in 2001.[I 9]

                May 31, 2009: Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed by Scott Roeder as Tiller served as an usher at a church in Wichita, Kansas.[I 10]

                1. May 31, 2009: Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed by Scott Roeder as Tiller served as an usher at a church in Wichita, Kansas.[I 10]

                  You know who else was involved in the Church that killed people?

          2. Damn, Sug. 7 in 23 years in a nation of over 300 million people. That number is so low as to be statistically insignificant.

            1. You asked, I answered. You asked again, and I answered.

              1. So the answer is 7? Because your first list had but one item on it that was substantiated. They you said 7, which I accept. I’ll also say it’s a fine nation we live in for abortion providers when .32 of them (in a nation where 325k abortions a year are performed by PP alone) are killed a year.

                Drug users/sellers Killed in instances of “anti-drug violence” (by the state) surpass that on any given weekend in America. Yet we don’t see the pants-shitting hysteria from some supposed libertarians like we do when an exceptionally rare instance of pro-life violence is carried out.

                1. Also, considering all movements have insane people in them, I am surprised this number isn’t higher.

        3. This list looks more like the recent epidemic of attacks on black churches, confirmation bias.

      2. Examples of black activists, libs,and proggies threatening themselves and burning black churches abound yet these acts of vandalism are automatically blamed on whites and Christians.

        Wolf.. Wolf …….Wolf…yawn

  8. To answer the questions posed by the headline:

    1) No. Nobody is a big of a jerk as Trump. Trump is all jerk, all the time. Ted, like most people not named Trump, is only a jerk sometimes.

    2) No. The Libertarian vote is going for Rand. If he drops out, that vote is going for the LP candidate or none at all. Look at the criticism that Rand takes from libertarians, and remember that he probably would score 15 to 20 percent more libertarian on a libertarian political quiz than any other candidate.

    1. “Nobody is a big of a jerk as Trump”


      There is Obama.

  9. His nutty bible beating will turn away as many libertarianish voters as he attracts.

  10. Most poll watchers agree that Donald Trump will fade in January …

    You must mean they wish it, or you too wish it. There isn’t a scintilla of evidence to support the theory that the Donald will flame out and go away.

    1. The same poll watchers knew that Trump would fade by Thanksgiving at the latest.

      1. I have watched as several of them continue to move their dates forward.

        Kinda like the Climate alarmists.

    2. Gotta agree here. The poll watchers are clueless about trump. He has defied pretty much every expectation they’ve had (I, personally, thought he was done after he attacked McCain for being taken POW). At this point, if they’re not assuming he’ll hold on to 25-30% support until he drops out they’re going to continue being wrong.

  11. Gillespie is just bound and determined to pound Cruz’s comment on the Dear shooting into a nefarious social conservative narrative even though it does not really fit. It just makes Gillespie sound like a hypersensitive SJW flying into a rage over a comment might, sort of, possibly,but not really be taken as a criticism of one of the alphabet soup sexual categories.

    Did Cruz take a whizz in Gillespie’s Kashi? The level of vitriol in this posting seems a bit unhinged.

  12. I really wonder, if Paul were doing well in the polls, would Nick be looking to trash him?

    Because, pretty much Ted Cruz is probably, in practice, closer to libertarian principles than any major party candidate currently running not named “Rand Paul”. He brushed off a guy for jumping to conclusions. When there was really a hell of a lot less evidence of motive than there is for the attack yesterday for which another Reason columnist is suggesting (probably rightly) that we shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions. And whatever happened to “I don’t care about someone’s religiosity, as long as they’re not trying to legislate it.”?

  13. Yes he his because he knows he is not a natural born Citizen.

    US v Wong Kim Ark

    “A person born out of the jurisdiction of the United States can only become a citizen by being NATURALIZED, either by treaty, as in the case of the annexation of foreign territory, or by authority of Congress, exercised either by declaring certain classes of persons to be citizens, as in the enactments conferring citizenship upon FOREIGN-BORN CHILDREN OF CITIZENS,…” (emphasis mine)

    1. How pissed are you birthers going to be when it comes down to Trump vs Clinton?

  14. Perhaps Mr. Gillespie could employ his extensive political wisdom in getting libertarians elected instead of offering unsolicited advice to the Republicans.

    1. They’re trying to slip one in on the GOP.

      But even when they suck up to Israel, Bob Jones U, Aborto-Freaks, and the like (Rand Paul), the GOP still won’t have libertarians over for coffee.

  15. Nick, you are a douche. – The Jacket

  16. Well, that seems harsh.

    Cruz kind of scares me with his more right-wing Christian stuff (NOTE: I am a Christian and still think this), but he’s one of two remaining major party candidates in the race that I legitimately believe would make government much smaller. A few other Repubs (say, Rubio), I think could manage a neutral effect where their small government stuff fights their war boners to a draw.

    Look, I go back and forth between voting best candidate available and voting to play defense against the worst one. So I guess I’m your target demo for the type who could vote for Cruz. That doesn’t mean I’m not on your side. I legitimately don’t know how I’m going to vote yet. All I know is…perfect…not ALWAYS enemy of the good.

  17. A word to the GOP: You’re not going to win many more elections (if any) by attacking gay marriage, pot legalization, and transgender people. And you’re not going to win any general elections by vilifying immigrants, legal or otherwise.

    But they’re not losing them by doing so either. Look at the numbers?GOP candidates as a group punch far above their class, & increasingly get elected.

  18. Verbosity alert: had to break into 4 sections:

    Hey Nick, I’m not sure what arrangement relegates us Reason readers to Daily Beast’s sloppy seconds especially since DB lacks the unrestricted Comments we have here. Skipping over the Readers’ Digest pablum version above, let me make a few point of constructive criticism on your DB masterpiece:
    1. You cannot beat sumthin with nuffin.
    I, like you, am repulsed by many Cruz-isms (e.g. calling Chuck Hagel an anti-Semite) but I am searching for a “least worst” candidate ever since I wrote off Rand when he signed the AIPAC-drafted Tom Cotton letter; just so vile, such a betrayal of Ron’s principled legacy. So, my 1st criticism of your article is that even your very valid points against Cruz mean nothing in a vacuum; first principles demand we know “Compared to what?”
    2. You ain’t Nostradamus.
    Your DB article refer to “Trump’s inevitable fade” — Was that fun for you to write? When Jeanne Dixon gives her 2016 predictions she knows no one will be around to call her on the wrong ones 365 days later. Don’t play that game. He may fade; he may not. You’re not Quasimodo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmhVw6q-KOA).

    1. 3. Non-lawyers are allowed (encouraged, in fact) to read the Constitution.
      Your DB article points out: “As a lawyer . . . Cruz has actually read the Constitution.” — As a lawyer, I can tell you that we have no monopoly on reading the Constitution.
      4. Not all social issues are the province of nutcases.
      Your DB article refers to “his stance against unisex bathrooms” — go ahead, tie that position to the straw man position of being against “worldly abominations” clever wordplay; was it fun? — but the plain fact is, many ordinary folk are uncomfortable with male adult strangers entering a bathroom their daughters might have to use in public.

      1. 5. Don’t be swindled by the God Delusion; have a sense of humor.
        Your DB article cites a comment to the effect that The president must begin every day “on his knees” to God. Go ahead; have your fun with that one too. But in your heart you know (don’t you?) as I know that may public figures like Obama, Bernie, Hillary, Glenn Greenwald, David Stockman, you(?) are atheists (agnostics at best) but, in the event they decided to compete for public office, will be compelled to profess religious belief. When they asked Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ wife why he was Episcopalian she answered, “In Washington everyone has to be something. Episcopalian is the least you can be.”) JFK dint give fuckall for the 10 commandments much less take instructions from the Vatican. At Cruz’ alma mater, HLS, Actual Bible thumpers are a rare species. They exist, but I don’t think Cruz was one of them. However, given this requirement of professing a belief in some form of Space Daddy (copyright, Bill Maher) why not go whole hog?! “On your knees heathens!” Have fun with it like Cruz is. Lighten up on that one, Nick.

        1. 6. Bad Nick!
          Your DB article predicts that “Cruz’s reflexive-culture war posturing will sink him.” This violates Postulates No. 1 AND 2 above. You’re not Nostradamus and Where’s the “sumthin” to beat him with once he’s sunk?
          7. Judges jumping to head trending social parades likely counterproductive.
          Your DB article derides Cruz’ “hissy fit” over the Supreme Court’s recognition of gay marriage. Here, Nick, you may be out of your element. (Big Lebowski alert: “You’re out of your element, Donny.”) Roe v. Wade deprived pro-choicers of the ability to tell nuts like the Colorado shooter: “Sorry, Charlie. Your fellow citizens voted to legalize abortion; not activist judges.” Same with gay marriage. Eventually most of the 50 states would have legalized it. I defy you Nick: read the Constitution and find where it says gay marriage is a right.

          1. If any Nickolytes think any of these points are out of line feel free to correct me.
            To conclude on a positive note, the DB article is the first thing I’ve read from NG in weeks that wadn’t polluted by gratuitous swipes at anyone who disagrees with the open border jihad he’s been on lately.
            Oddly and sadly, this is not the case for our Reason version. Nick falsifies Ms. Goo’s finding, which reads, verbatim: 56% of Republicans ? say undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.should be allowed to stay in this country legally if they meet certain requirements.
            He paraphrases it as: A majority of REPUBLICAN voters?56 percent!?think illegals should be allowed to stay and given a path to legal status.
            A nice (but deceptive) touch adding “and given a path to legal status” which was not Ms. Goo’s words. More to the point, Nick, please explain why this “path” bullshit is not code for amnesty.

  19. ‘Cruz doesn’t seem to give a shit on that score.’ While I normally don’t curse in comments, since Gillespie sees fit to do so in the article, I feel it’s appropriate to respond in kind. I don’t give a fucking shit anymore about the turd publication that pretends to be libertarian, Reason. It has come to reject as “unlibertarian” anyone who happens to think there is a problem with Islam, transsexuals, communism, or illegal immigration. Gillespie is a huge, bleeding asshole of the highest order – just because someone sneaks into the country illegally doesn’t mean I have to “find a way to make him a citizen”, otherwise I’m engaging in “culture wars” and we’re not “growing the Republican Party” by “reaching out to younger, more socially tolerant voters”. You know what? Fuck them! Why the living fuck do we have to adjust our beliefs to fit the attitudes of the dumbest, most socialistic young generation that has ever come down the pike? It’s up to young voters to understand OUR beliefs. We cannot have open borders and a social welfare country. Our entire country is right on the edge of financial collapse already, and Nick Fucking Gillespie wants us to bend our beliefs to win elections? To hell with him, and to hell with Reason; I’m going to mises.org.

  20. It’s like they always say, you can’t win an election without the tranny vote.

    “Everybody I know voted for McGovern!” – Nick Gillespie

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