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Cruz’s Unimaginative Announcement Speech

Ted Cruz announced [1] the start of his presidential campaign this morning at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He stressed the importance of Christian faith in his own family, he kept returning predictably to the theme of liberty, and urged the assembled students to “imagine” a series of mostly far-fetched scenarios that would somehow be made possible through Cruz’s candidacy. He started the speech [2] very slowly, delivered the lines from memory as he walked around the stage, and gradually worked up to his normal litany of talking points. Listening to the speech felt like hearing a sermon combined with an infomercial.

The student audience responded with a fair amount of enthusiasm. The loudest applause came after Cruz said, “Imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel.” Along with a standard hawkish line about not letting Iran have a nuclear weapon, this was the only foreign policy reference in the speech that I can recall*. It is not surprising, but there was very little to distinguish this speech from anything Cruz has said before at activist meetings and political conferences. Considering how often he called on the audience to imagine this or that, there was nothing very imaginative in the content of the speech. One of his lines about “repealing every word of Common Core” was typically misleading, since there is no relevant law that could be repealed at the federal level.

Notably, the speech didn’t really contain an argument for why Cruz is qualified to be president. Despite going on at some length about his parents and his wife, Cruz had remarkably little to say about his own career, which is usually something that a presidential candidate emphasizes. The entire exercise was aimed at telling conservatives, especially religious conservatives, “I am one of you, so vote accordingly.” As an exercise in pure pandering and blatant identity politics, it seems to have been reasonably successful. If the goal was to persuade skeptical conservatives that he could be a plausible nominee, it didn’t work very well.

* Correction: Cruz also made a boilerplate reference to “defeating radical Islam.” My apologies for the oversight.

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9 Comments To "Cruz’s Unimaginative Announcement Speech"

#1 Comment By jamie On March 23, 2015 @ 1:04 pm

Notably, the speech didn’t really contain an argument for why Cruz is qualified to be president.

The perception that both parties are “about the same,” combined with the technocratic professionalization of the executive, has resulted in the attitude that presidents aren’t people, they’re mostly brands. Ted Cruz doesn’t have to be qualified, what matters is what he “stands for,” what his victory would signify.

This strategy is pre-meditatively meant to parrot Obama’s rise to power. A lawyer, political activist and former editor of the Harvard Law Review almost finishes one term in the US senate and then runs for the presidency on the basis of his alienation from traditional Washington families and power-brokers, his commitment to fundamentally transform America, and his personal identity, which itself constitutes a complete rejection of his predecessor. Literally everything you can do to gainsay Ted Cruz can be flipped around as an attack on the rise of Barack Obama.

The only real difference is that Ted Cruz is an obnoxious knave who is promising to reverse Obama’s policy of occasionally negotiating with people before bombing them.

#2 Comment By Noah172 On March 23, 2015 @ 1:36 pm

The loudest applause came after Cruz said, “Imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel.”

Not America, Israel. Talk about “passionate attachments”. Washington is turning over in his grave.

I wonder if your typical Liberty grad can find Israel on a map, knows any Jews personally (particularly non-Orthodox and/or politically left-liberal Jews), or can discuss the history and politics of the Middle East using any material other than what one has seen or heard from the media properties of Rupert Murdoch or a bookstore owned by the Southern Baptist Convention (Lifeway).

#3 Comment By H.K. Anders On March 23, 2015 @ 2:35 pm

* Correction: Cruz also made a boilerplate reference to “defeating radical Islam.” My apologies for the oversight.

Yes, because I had pretty much written you off for failing to mention that. How could you ignore such an important point and rarely made point?

#4 Comment By Josh On March 23, 2015 @ 2:53 pm

A major difference, Jamie, is that Obama had a noted history of compromise and being a conciliator throughout his life, including while at Harvard (it was conservative support that got him the editor position). Obama was fully prepared to compromise and negotiate in Washington. He did his best to sell out a lot of Democratic sacred cows in 2011, but even then Republicans were determined to obstruct him.

You can’t work with people who make it their life goal to not work with you.

#5 Comment By Barry On March 23, 2015 @ 4:04 pm

“Literally everything you can do to gainsay Ted Cruz can be flipped around as an attack on the rise of Barack Obama.”

No, since you can also look at Ted’s Senatorial ‘career’, the sheer corruption of having a wife who made partner at Goldman Sachs, and his general batsh*t insanity and lying.

#6 Comment By jamie On March 23, 2015 @ 5:12 pm

No, since you can also look at Ted’s Senatorial ‘career’, the sheer corruption of having a wife who made partner at Goldman Sachs, and his general batsh*t insanity and lying.

No, here, it’s a fun game: Michelle Obama used to work as a corporate officer for the University of Chicago Hospital and Obamacare was payback for her cushy sinecure (naturally, arranged by Valerie Jarret).

I’m not saying it’s a real parallel, it’s meant only to be apparent on cursory examination. It’s easy to make the comparison on the nightly news because any evidence against — he’s a liar and an a-hole — can just be written off as partisan. For a glib observer, they’re meant to be photo negatives, and from his supporters you’ll hear it over and over again: “He’s not foreign born, besides, what about Obama! His dad might be a militant crackpot, but what about the Kenyan in Chief!”

And he might be bat-guano insane, but don’t let this overshadow the underlying truth that Ted Cruz is almost certainly a brilliant genius who, even if he loses the primaries, will still come out a winner and probably the 2020 nominee, unless he screws up, which I see little chance of happening.

#7 Comment By Just Looking On March 24, 2015 @ 12:03 am

“Imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel.”

That’s funny. I can’t find “stands unapologetically with Israel” on my list of desirable presidential traits.

#8 Comment By KJL On March 24, 2015 @ 12:49 am

One thing I don’t understand about Cruz. He cited his origin story in the speech, about his father fleeing Cuba with $100 in his underwear and coming to Texas. The thing I don’t get is, doesn’t that make his father an illegal immigrant whose entry to the US ought to have been blocked by a secure border or who at the very least ought to have been deported?

#9 Comment By Barry On March 24, 2015 @ 8:46 am

Jamie: “No, here, it’s a fun game: Michelle Obama used to work as a corporate officer for the University of Chicago Hospital and Obamacare was payback for her cushy sinecure (naturally, arranged by Valerie Jarret).”

Except, of course, that that’s ridiculous, whereas Goldman Sachs *not* being involved in corruption would be ridiculous.