Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Is Cruz's Iowa caucus victory just a brief lapse in judgment like that of Huckabee and Santorum ?

Were many people “shocked” that Ted Cruz bested Donald Trump in the Iowa primary? Why should they have been? It was obvious that Trump wasn’t taking Iowa all that seriously lately, since the state is little too “small” and provincial for a man of his egomania, and his refusal to participate in the most recent Fox News presidential primary debate (and his reason for it) may have put off some voters, particularly of the female variety. On the other hand, the Fox moderators had made every effort to marginalize Cruz, and that this strategy apparently backfired. Like CNN and MSNBC with their shameless bias toward Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, Fox and its corporate paymaster, Rupert Murdoch, are desperate that a Republican occupy the White House (which the country absolutely does not want, with the right already in control of both chambers of Congress and the Supreme Court), and Trump and Cruz make about as much sense as Barry Goldwater and Sarah Palin (Palin did Trump no “favor” by endorsing him). 

Media reports suggest that Trump was “wounded” after Iowa, and the sharks are circling him. But who really benefits from this? Who would Trump’s supporters naturally gravitate too? Cruz? Shouldn’t it be obvious that it was from Trump that Cruz skimmed enough votes to win Iowa? And who is this guy anyways, who was not born in the United States as is implied by the Constitution to be eligible to run for president, but in Canada? You don’t get much help from the mainstream media, which occasionally allows him a soundbite or two, but otherwise treats him like an annoying gnat in need of swatting, but just can’t keep him away.

It is not that Cruz’s ideology is much different than his primary opponents on immigration, abortion, taxes, the budget and health care reform; it is just that he seems more inflexible and rigid in his thinking, and his “calmness” in expressing these views only makes him appear more extreme and heartless than his opponents. It is like he is completely oblivious to or doesn’t give a damn about the problems of ordinary people. His attempt to run a one-man filibuster against funding the ACA in 2013 not only embarrassed his fellow senators, but he came across as a man so desperate for attention that the fact that tens of millions of people in country did not have access to affordable health care apparently did not compute in his self-described “mathematician” brain.  

Cruz has other problems, such as his self-identification. He was born in Canada—which unlike the Panama Canal Zone where John McCain was born, is not a U.S. “territory,” living there for three years. One should think that since he was not born in, say, a U.S. consulate office, he is technically not eligible to run for president, even if his mother was an American (his father was a Cuban exile who became a Canadian citizen while the young Cruz was still living there). But a court has granted him ‘”native-born citizen” status, for the rather quizzical reason that no government agency ever questioned his citizenship status, his parents never officially “registering” his entry into the country. It is deeply hypocritical how some Republicans insist on questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship, and now question if “natural born citizen” applies to immigrant children actually born in this country. 

But more fascinating is this idea that Cruz is “Hispanic.” The reality is that Cruz himself has run as far away as he can from any suggestion that he is anything but your typical Anglo-American—unlike, say, Marco Rubio, who doesn’t feel any shame in embracing his Cuban heritage or speaking Spanish. Cruz’s actual first name is Rafael after his father, but that obviously is too embarrassingly “ethnic”; so-called “real” Americans have “American” names. Not only does Cruz not speak any Spanish, he looks “Caucasian” because, well, he is 100 percent that. His father’s ancestors are from Spain, his mother’s from Ireland. 

Thus any claims that Cruz appeals to Hispanics—particularly of Mexican heritage—couldn’t be further from the truth; he received only one-third of the Texas Hispanic vote in his 2012 senate race, and the typical response as to whether they support Cruz now goes something like “I’m Mexican, he’s Cuban,” which points to a wide gulf politically and socially.  Mexican immigrants are no doubt mindful of the double-standard in U.S. immigration policy that benefits Cubans based on an out-dated Cold War mentality (or the one that benefits our former Vietnamese "allies"); even Mexicans trying to escape the violence fueled by the U.S.' insatiable appetite for illegal drugs receives almost no consideration compared to a Cuban who happens to wash up on shore. Furthermore, in a story in Reuters the CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Javier Palomarez, was quoted as saying “I think he’s got a long way to go to convince people that he understands the Hispanic experience and that he understands the Hispanic voter.”

Obviously a Republican like Cruz can write off the “47 percent” that Mitt Romney disparaged right off the top. Certainly the Tea Party extremist core of the Republican Party would support him, but would independent voters feel “comfortable” voting for him? With his extreme views (particularly socially) and a seeming incapacity to “soften” his stances that is required to actually work with people, there certainly is a question there. Considering the fact that in 2012 the hard-right Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucus over Mitt Romney, and in 2008 Mike Huckabee was the winner, Cruz’s “victory” is just another such mirage.

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