Ted Cruz's Stunning Victory Over Iowa's Ethanol Cartel

The Inigo impersonator devised a clever electoral strategy


If Donald Trump is the Tony Soprano of American politics, Ted Cruz is a less-affable version of Mr. Haney from Green

Cruz Inigo
DonkeyHotey / Foter / CC BY

Acres (Ok – not quite, but sort of! Do feel free to say, H&R readers, which movie character is a better fit with Cruz). But the only thing cleverer than Cruz's impression of Inigo Montoya in Princess Bride (and not the least because it irritates Billy Crystal and the insufferably self-righteous Mandy Patinkin so much) is the campaign strategy he devised in Iowa to defeat the ethanol cartel and win the primary, I note in my column at The Week.

No candidate, Republican or Democrat, had to date attacked Iowa's beloved ethanol subsidies and lived to tell the tale. The two biggest subsidy boosters in living memory are arguably President Obama and Donald Trump. But how did Cruz pull it off?

Essentially, by putting together a shrewd electoral strategy that thwarted the "public choice" dynamic that has been keeping the ethanol cartel in business by transferring $10 billion annually to its pocket from that of the drivers while gumming up their cars.

Go here to read what this strategy is.

And watch below Cruz's impersonation of Inigo etc.:

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  1. Do feel free to say, H&R readers, which movie character is a better fit with Cruz?

    Bill Murray’s Bunny Breckenridge from “Ed Wood.”

  2. Wicked Billy Crystal impression, though.

    I’m thinking Nathan Lane in “The Producers”.

  3. “and the insufferably self-righteous Mandy Patinkin ”

    You’re no slouch yourself, Shikha.

  4. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character in The Master.

  5. Ah, yes, Green Acres. The Greatest Television Show Of All Time!

    1. I had a hypothesis. The writers would get together and do a script for Petticoat Junction. Then they would smoke a shitpile of weed and do the script for The Beverly Hillbillies. Then they’d drop acid and do the script for Green Acres.

      Notice the clue- the Green Acres lyrics scan perfectly onto the tune of Purple Haze.

  6. It’s tough for me to get a read on Cruz. He seems really good on certain issues, but I also hear him described as very unlibertarian. Admittedly I haven’t looked into his positions in detail myself yet.

    1. Bumper Hornberger has a kinda interesting background story on Cruz: I failed to convert Ted Cruz to libertarianism

      At one time, Houston libertarians had high hopes for Ted Cruz.

  7. I dare you to read that whole Mandy Patinkin article.

    1. I actually thought it was pretty good.

  8. Cruz got 28% of the vote.

    Did anyone else come out against Ethanol subsidies/mandates?

    I think Rand Paul did. He got 4%.

    So less than one-third of the vote went to opponents of the Ethanol program.

    Big sweeping victory!

    1. Exactly. It can just as easily be said that 2/3 of Iowa GOP voters still fervently support subsidies.

      1. Assuming they are all single issue voters.

  9. I can’t say that I like much about Cruz, but I do appreciate that he seems to be an honest and sincere nerd. It’s a refreshing change from all the BS about what’s supposedly on the candidate’s playlists and which books are on their night stand.

    1. Oh, and I thought Crystal and Patenkin were pretty good sports about it.

  10. My God is Alicia Keys gorgeous.

    1. Also, “Keys” rhymes with “please” and “knees.”

      1. And “pees”. NTTAWWT

  11. “Im not a Ted Cruz fan and can’t imagine ever voting for a man so vainglorious.”

    I’m not sure what she’s saying…does she plan to vote for one of the humbler candidates? Or is she sitting out the Presidential election entirely? If the former, which of the surviving candidates has the necessary humility compared to Cruz?

    “Much of Cruz’s agenda is nasty, unlovely stuff playing on people’s fears and demonizing his opponents. Ronald Reagan’s sunny and uplifting optimism it is not.

    “But its genius is that it shows a way to take on powerful special interest groups and dismantle the edifice of crony capitalism that is corroding trust in this country’s institutions. There is no reason why a more enlightened conservative can’t apply the same formula to appeal to the better angels of Republican voters.”

    The examples she gives of Cruz playing on people’s fears and demonizing his opponents include wild rhetorical calls for the destruction of ISIS – but I seem to recall how Reagan was an insane warmonger who played on people’s exaggerated fears of Communism.

    1. And don’t forget his story of the Chicago welfare woman, etc.

      And appealing to paranoia about how “big government *is* the problem.”

      The consensus at the time (except among actual voters) was that Reagan was a divisive hatey-hatemonger, or else an imbecile, or both.

      Another example is Cruz’s call for actually enforcing the laws against illegal immigration – apparently a position so hateful that it simply has to be stated in order to be refuted. Reagan signed an amnesty, but it was part of a “comprehensive” package of immigration reform which included a promise of future enforcement in exchange for the amnesty. So in that sense Reagan was also hateful and demon-y.

      So I guess the point is, gosh, what a principled stand Cruz took against crony capitalism, but that doesn’t make him any better than Rubio, Trump, Sanders or Clinton! He may even be worse! Unlike the selective recollections I have about Reagan!

      1. I have some concerns about Cruz. But honestly, if we are debating the relative merits of the remaining contenders, I still think he is the best we are going to see in our lifetime (unless Rand can get much more support during the next few years).
        As others have noted, he is not a libertarian. But he is a Constitutional conservative. At least in areas that we disagree, we could have a principled debate working from similar premises. I don’t think we could say that about anyone else left in the race.

        1. And BTW: maybe he is a royal prick. So what? Who up there, both R and D aren’t? We aren’t electing a “neighbor-in-chief”.

          1. Considering the people he is being elected to deal with, I can’t understand why the fact that he is a prick is seen as such a downside. You tell me how you are supposed to deal with Paul Ryan or Harry Reid without being a prick? Washington has forever seduced principled people into going along with awful things by making appeals to cvility and moderation and consensus building.

            There is no way anyone but a prick is going to be able to make any headway towards smaller government. The people in Washington see big government as the way they eat and the reason for their existence. You are not shrinking it by building consensus and being a nice guy. I am not saying the fact that Cruz is a prick necessarily means he will actually shrink the government. Time will tell about that. But anyone who does is going to have to be a pretty big prick to a whole lot of people.

            1. You’ve convinced me. If the Libertarian Party doesn’t get on the ballot in CO, I’ll probably vote for Cruz.

        2. I dunno if he’s the best we’ll see in our lifetime (unless SMOD wins), but he’s the best member of Team Be Ruled in this shitshow of an election.

    2. Our fears of communism in 1980 were exaggerated?

      Citations please.

    3. does she plan to vote for one of the humbler candidates

      Such as, who?

  12. But did Cruz’s appeal to Tea Partiers & evangelics in any way depend on opposition to ethanol mandates? Maybe Tea Partiers, although Ms. Dalmia didn’t explain that, but not evangelics. Why couldn’t he have held onto evangelics, at least, while favoring ethanol mandates? Seems he won despite being “wrong” to many Iowa caucusers on this issue, rather than because of it as Ms. Dalmia implied. Putting together a bigger coalition than the other guys is no revel’n.

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