We’re one week out from the Iowa caucuses, and it’s becoming crystal clear that for the establishment, there’s one man who must be stopped: Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).
The latest emissary of theanti -Cruz establishment right is the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, who previously declared that anyone who voted for Donald Trump or Cruz wanted Hillary to win the presidency.
Now he’s focused his fire on Cruz.
In his column today, Stephens begins by snarking Cruz’s red state attitudes:
Maybe I’d be a better person if I got away from the coasts more often, or visited a gun range….Maybe I should start listening to country music, the way Mr. Cruz did after he decided, in good Soviet fashion, that his musical taste ought to be dictated by political considerations.
But the smugness is only beginning. To prove just how nasty Cruz supposedly is, Stephens brings out the full listing of Cruz’s supposed Wall Street insider sins, including his wife working for Goldman Sachs and his legitimate loan from Goldman Sachs, as well as support from libertarian Peter Thiel. None of these are actual sins, of course – red state people also have wives who work in banking, and there are many people who have worked at Goldman Sachs who aren’t cutting back room deals with the honchos in Washington D.C. Without any proof of such deals, Stephens tacitly alleges them.
Stephens is frustrated with Cruz’s attitude, too: “Ted Cruz is the guy who made Donald Trump look tolerant and statesmanlike. That’s saying something.”
Well, no. Trump doesn’t look tolerant and statesmanlike. He looks like a self-serving egomaniac who does whatever he wants to maximize his own personal gain. Cruz looks like a manipulative ideologue, which is what he is. And that, it turns out, is Stephens real problem. He doesn’t think Cruz is a hypocrite, a secret moderate posing as a conservative. He’s afraid that Cruz is actually conservative:
But the deeper problem with Mr. Cruz’s assault on the Big Apple isn’t his personal hypocrisy, or his two-bit stereotypes, or in biting the hands that fed him. That’s what we expect of politicians; the priced-in rate of running for high office. It’s the full-frontal assault on millions of GOP voters who, on one issue or another, share some of those dreaded New York values. The senator is trying to do to socially moderate Republicans what Democrats did to their own social conservatives when they barred pro-life Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey from speaking at the 1992 Democratic Convention. Yes, kids, there used to be Democrats who didn’t march in lockstep with Emily’s List.
So, Stephens’ solution is to recruit candidates who go soft on social issues. Like, say, Mitt Romney or John McCain, and not like George W. Bush. That’s because he abides by the philosophy that:
[I]n two-party systems, it was in both parties’ interest to pitch the broadest possible tent….The [winning strategy] lies in Cuyahoga and Pinellas and Loudon counties – those purple lands in Ohio, Florida and Virginia where swing voters still decide elections in this country. Mr. Cruz needs to answer how he plans to win 50.1% in those states, not 70% of the Bible Belt. Such an answer is available to a Republican nominee, but only one who doesn’t demean other people’s values even when he doesn’t share them.
There is only one problem: Marco Rubio, Stephens’ guy, has less appeal to Cuyahoga and Pinellas and Loudon counties than Donald Trump. If Stephens is worried about blue collar appeal, then Trump is his man, not Rubio – and Cruz will win no less votes for being pro-life in counties like Cuyahoga than Rubio, who is ardently pro-life. What’s more, only anti-immigration candidates will do well in blue collar counties, not candidates like Rubio.
If Stephens is all about winning, and his strategy is to increase appeal to independents, Trump has a better shot than Rubio or Cruz. If the strategy is to go conservative and still win blue collar voters, Cruz does better than Rubio. If the strategy is Mitt Romney II: The Revenge, then sign Bret Stephens up.
And this is why Cruz and Trump are gaining. Nobody wants the sequel. The original was bad enough.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, Editor-in-Chief of DailyWire.com, and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.