Monday, August 26, 2013

Jennifer Rubin Finds a Mirror

Jennifer Rubin, who people say is smart but who nonetheless rattles off a predictable set of talking points and often makes hare-brained assertions, comments on Ted Cruz,
Smarts don’t always equate to common sense. In the case of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), there is an inverse relationship between the two. I’m told by smart lawyers that he has a sharp legal mind, can think on his feet and has remarkable recall for facts, cases and even page numbers of the briefs. But his political judgment has become distorted by ambition.

Her illustration of Cruz's 'smarts' reminds me of an anecdote about a lawyer who was similarly famed for his ability to provide pinpoint citations, on his feet, in court. Somebody asked him, eventually, how he managed to recall cases and even page numbers with such specificity. "I make them up. Nobody ever checks." But with a bit less cynicism, having a good memory - even an eidetic memory - is proof of good memory, not intelligence. Cruz may well be as smart as some people say, or he may be smart in the same sense that Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan are touted as intellectual giants among their Republican peers. When the pond is that shallow, you don't need to be a particularly big fish to stand out - and sometimes all it takes is for you to be the one people see because it's sticking its head out of the pond with its mouth constantly open. I'm also reminded of a certain trial lawyer who once ran for President, who strikes me as having been deemed a great trial lawyer by virtue of having a well-rehearsed presentation of a particular type of big money case, and who retired into politics when that particular line of litigation dried up. Or a certain TV host who brags about her conviction rate for homicide prosecutions, never mind that homicide cases are often open-and-shut with defendants going to trial only because they have nothing to lose. You have to look beyond the surface to find out if somebody truly is as brilliant as he and his friends claim him to be.

Rubin notes that Cruz was spouting nonsense about how Mitt Romney was the greatest guy in the world before he lost, at which point she contradicted her prior claims about him and denounced his deep flaws without appearing to notice the contradiction. No, wait, that was Rubin. She notes that Cruz is pretending that the President might sign a bill defunding the PPACA/Obamacare, and purporting that the public won't blame the Republicans if they shut down the government.
Well, maybe he understands something else. Perhaps he is as smart as his admirers claim and he is wildly ambitious, hoping to draw attention and fundraising dollars for his windmill-tilting scam. Later in the CNN interview he made it clear he was playing to the base on this one... And who better to pull the tsunami to shore than Cruz, right? Send money! Come to his events! Become outraged when the “unprincipled” Republicans won’t support him!
Read his blog! Oh, wait...
Cruz is emblematic of a group of conservative hucksters peddling outrage and paranoia who contend that the strength of the political resistance they generate is equivalent to their own importance, and that one dramatic, losing standoff after another is the pinnacle of political success. Alas, they confuse their own fame with achievement and divisiveness with progress.
And if that doesn't work out for him in politics, maybe Fred Hiatt can give him a job?

Rubin suggests that Cruz would be better off following the lead of Speaker Boehner, and "trying to put the monkey on the Democrats’ backs (as the speaker of the House is doing) in the Obamacare fight". Nobody has ever accused Boehner of being a genius, but perhaps Rubin should take note of the fact that pretty much every aspect of Obamacare is popular, save for the mandate which is a necessary part of the popular provision that requires insurance companies to provide coverage without respect to preexisting conditions. Pushing a fantasy about defunding Obamacare is probably more sensible than crossing your fingers and hoping that the mandate proves so unpopular that people are willing to throw the baby out with a few inches of bathwater.
A political loner and man of rhetoric, not of action or achievement, he bears a striking resemblance to the current Oval Office resident. Each considers himself the smartest man in any room (inducing annoyance and resentment among his party members) and each fails to understand rhetoric is not effective governance.
Projection, much? Seriously, how many people other than Rubin look at Cruz and say, "Wow, he's just like President Obama"? This would be one of those "predictable talking points and hare-brained assertions" to which I previously alluded.

If I read more of Rubin's pontifications, I might know who she is pushing as the next Republican presidential nominee. Perhaps somebody who, unlike Mitt Romney, doesn't see himself as God's gift to the country and the smartest man in the room, who scurries away from his own record whenever it becomes politically inconvenient? Because Rubin doesn't seem to like those characteristics in candidates she doesn't support....

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