Who’s Ted Cruz? Getting to Know the Next Senator from the Tea Party
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It’s no wonder the far right is so excited about Cruz. He was everywhere in Tampa – from the platform, to a pre-convention rally sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition to a Wednesday afternoon kick-off for Rick Santorum’s new group.
Cruz is also on message with the truth-be-damned approach that characterizes this convention. He repeatedly denounced Barack Obama as the “most radical president” in American history and promoted in spectacular fashion one of the week’s big lies: that Barack Obama is waging a war on religious freedom. Obama, he said, was telling American Catholics to “change your religious beliefs or I will use my power as president to shut down your hospitals.”
He describes this election in the fear-mongering end-of-the Republic terms favored by the far right. “As dangerous as these last three and a half years have been, stop for a moment and think about what a second term under Barack Obama would look like. He would truly be unrestrained. If Barack Obama were reelected in November, we would look back to these last three and a half years as the halcyon days of the moderate Barack Obama.”
Cruz’s policy positions are what you would expect for a man backed by both the religious right and the Koch right. He is a hard-core opponent of reproductive choice who backed Rick Perry’s push to defund Planned Parenthood – and Perry’s dishonest attempt to portray the resulting crisis of access to healthcare for more than 130,000 poor women as a consequence of the Obama administration playing politics.
Cruz, who pledges to “repeal every single word of Obamacare” shares with his Tea Party colleague Sen. Mike Lee of Utah a radically restrictive view of the role of the federal government. Cruz has been a senior fellow at the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies, a project of the anti-regulatory Texas Public Policy Foundation, which is funded by the Koch brothers and other right-wing foundations and energy interests. As a Center fellow he has written about how states can band together to undermine federal power.
His opposition to LGBT equality goes well beyond marriage. On his Web site he says he “has fought on the federal level to defend marriage between one man and one woman as the fundamental building block of society,” and he worked with the state attorney general to send a letter to Congress urging that it strengthen the Defense of Marriage Act; the letter dismissed states’ rights concerns. During the primary, Cruz attacked former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert for marching in the city’s gay pride parade. And, notes the Dallas Voice, “On his Web site, Cruz boasts that as Texas’ solicitor general he helped block a gay Beaumont couple from obtaining a divorce from their Vermont civil union.”
In his convention speech, Cruz wrapped himself in the legacy of civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King – who would never have supported Cruz’s insistence that “jobs don’t come from the government.” The 1963 event at which King gave the speech Cruz cited was known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – it was a demand for government help in creating jobs. It’s dishonest to posthumously enlist MLK in Cruz’s Tea Party crusade against government.
Cruz is undoubtedly a smart and effective advocate, a Princeton and Harvard-educated lawyer who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. As Texas solicitor general, he brought numerous cases before the Supreme Court, where he won some significant cases involving church-state issues. As People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch blog has reported, he is also on the “National Board of Reference” for a law school being created at Louisiana College with the help of the right-wing Alliance Defense Fund.