Rafael Cruz, the fire-and-brimstone preacher father of Tea Party favorite, and government shutdown author, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, is either more extremist than his already-far-right son, or is simply less tactful.
Either way, Senator Cruz has elevated his father to be his top political strategist and confidant on the road to the White House in 2016.
So it matters if Ted Cruz’s father is a far-right intolerant loon because he’s not just Ted Cruz’s father, he’s Cruz’s putative campaign manager, and his number one political adviser, confidant, and mentor.
Robert Costa in the National Review explains the role Rafael Cruz plays in his son’s political life:
Beyond his oratory, though, it’s Rafael Cruz’s sway in his son’s inner circle that makes him a power broker. His son trusts his father’s political instincts, and instead of hiring a big-name Republican strategist to shepherd his ascent, he uses his father for the kind of guidance you’d expect from a consultant….
Sources close to Cruz say those who run Cruz’s operation, both in his Senate office and on the political side, have learned to work with Rafael, and that for many of them, their boss’s father has become a mentor…. He’s clearly the insider of insiders within Cruz’s camp…”
It seems every week of late we’re hearing about something bizarre and offensive that Rafael Cruz has said.
Last week it was that blacks are “uninformed’ and “deceived.”
A few weeks before that it was that President Obama should go “back to Kenya.” (Cruz’s father had previously called the President an “outright Marxist.”)
And a third Papa Cruz utterance that I missed entirely was Rafael Cruz going off earlier this month about how offensive the word “gay” is (see video below):
We have to stop being politically correct. We have to stop acquiescing even to the wording liberals use…. It’s just like calling homosexuals “gays.” Gay means “happy.” You know, it’s just to try to dilute it so that it becomes socially acceptable. And if you say anything against homosexual marriage or anything, oh you’re not tolerant. So we’re supposed to prostitute our principles on behalf of tolerance. Well, I’ll tell you what, there are absolutes. There are absolutes. Start being biblically correct instead of politically correct.
There’s an odd genius in son-Cruz’s political embrace of daddy-Cruz. As David Corn observes in Mother Jones, Cruz’s father is an interesting blend of Tea Party and religious right, at a time that many commentators are saying that the two extreme wings dominating the GOP are per se mutually exclusive, since they don’t share the same political real estate. Cruz’s father might prove otherwise, helping to bridge the crazy between the two powerful extremist fringes of the GOP:
The United States as a “Christian nation”; death panels; social justice a cancer; gay rights a conspiracy; the “wicked” in charge in Washington; women inferior to men as spiritual leaders; Obama a Muslim-favoring, God-hating, Marxist Kenyan; End Times; a UN worldwide dictatorship; states’ rights; free markets over all—Rafael Cruz blends the far reaches of extreme conservatism and Christian fundamentalism. He embodies the full synthesis of the tea party and the religious right. In fact, he has noted that the rise of the religious right in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign “was the precursor of the tea party.” Rafael Cruz may well be key to understanding the ideas, desires, and long-term aims that drive Ted Cruz—a politician who is exerting an outsized influence on the GOP.
And just when you thought Ted Cruz couldn’t get any scarier.
The star-quality embrace the Cruz family has received in some conservative circles may help convince some less-informed moderates that Republicans really do like people of color, but it won’t win over too many people who actually are of color because, as always, the GOP has hitched its star to the crazy. More from Beth Reinhard at National Journal:
Cruz’s Cuban-American heritage would appear to be an asset at a time when the Republican Party’s path back to the White House runs through the fast-growing Hispanic community. Except that he fiercely opposes two issues dear to Hispanic voters: comprehensive immigration reform and the new health care law. (A Pew Research Center/USA Today poll in September found that 61 percent of Hispanics approve of the Affordable Care Act.) “He took on a piece of legislation that’s more popular among Hispanics than the general population, so his biography is not going to help much,” said Gary Segura, a principal of the Latino Decisions polling firm and a Stanford University professor of American politics.
All Cubans are Latinos, but few Latinos are Cubans – in sheer numbers and by political philosophy. Marco Rubio in Florida suffers from the same conundrum. Latinos aren’t going to vote for you just because you’re Latino if your entire political platform is meant to undermine them.
Ted Cruz might be able to convince the Tea Party and the religious right to vote for him, and that might even be enough to win him the Republican nomination. But good luck selling that nutty-burger to the American people in the general election in November of 2016.