Ted Cruz and tempests in teapots

In response to For the 1,034th Time: Conservatives, Do Not Trust the MSM:

I agree with your basic premises, Joel, particularly the advice about not trusting the mainstream media.  I never again want to see a Republican candidate wearing the deer-in-headlights expression of shock that was plastered across John McCain’s face when his media “buddies” took the wheel of the Straight Talk Express and ran him down with it.  

Reporters are not your friends, Republicans, and while you gain little by acting hostile and surly towards them – with occasional, well-grounded exceptions for calling out the most egregious examples of bias – you will never “win them over.”  Your objective is to avoid giving them anything they can use to beat you to death, including the sort of “inartful phrasing” Mitt Romney was famous for.  Instead, give them useful, well-phrased statements they cannot help repeating, as Ronald Reagan so often did.  It’s conventional wisdom to say that Reagan talked “past” the media, directly to the American people.  But he was also very good at conscripting the hostile media into carrying his messages.  He understood the concept of viral “memes” and “narratives” long before Internet gurus began kicking those terms around.

Having said that, I don’t know that anything Ted Cruz has done during this painfully silly non-troversy could be characterized as a blunder.  He really did seem unaware of his nominal automatic dual citizenship.  There’s no evidence that he ever sought to invoke it, or discussed it with anyone from the Canadian government before now.  His attitude of surprise and amusement that any of this would become a Big Hairy Deal appears genuine to me.  Perhaps he was trying to be a smart-aleck by releasing his birth certificate… or maybe he was thinking three moves ahead.  

Because as Ace has been pointing out, “birtherism” is suddenly very acceptable to the very same media that derided it as unspeakable quackery during the Obama years.  All of a sudden, it’s quite acceptable – mainstream, even – to ask those citizenship questions, provided you ask them of Republican Ted Cruz.  It wouldn’t have taken long for the first left-wing nut to claim it was “suspicious” that Cruz had not released his birth certificate yet… followed by the first mainstream media outlet twirling a finger idly through its collective hair and sighing that it’s a fair question, because those right-wing wackos spent years hassling Obama for his birth certificate, and we’re not spreading any crazy conspiracy theories about Ted Cruz – oh, no, perish the thought! – but now that some liberal bloggers have started making a big stink about it, we do think it’s rather ironic that a Republican linked to those Tea Party crazies could have a citizenship “controversy” of his own… 

Cruz says he’s going to renounce that vestigial Canadian citizenship to put this whole kerfuffle to bed.  But I don’t think this was ever really a targeted left/media attack designed to run him out of the 2016 presidential race.  No, it was a more cunning bank shot, a little fun for the Left on a slow news day, because they knew it wouldn’t be hard to trick certain parts of the Republican Party into forming the traditional firing squad.  They knew there would be those in the conservative diaspora who would rise to the bait and agree that Cruz might not really be a natural-born citizen… and those folks would respond with fiery denunciations of anyone who dared to challenge their assertions.  God help anyone who told them to pipe down for the good of conservatism or the Republican Party!  This was an easy layup for liberals, and I suspect some establishment Republicans didn’t mind seeing them take it.  Let’s hope it peters out soon.


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