Rage Machine

02.25.13

Ted Cruz Is the Emblem

Lots of chatter about Ted Cruz, the new senator from Texas. Steve Kornacki in Salon:

So it goes for Cruz, the freshman Texas senator who in his first two months on the job has baselessly asserted that Chuck Hagel might have received money from the North Korean government, reiterated his belief that there were 12 Communists on Harvard Law School’s faculty when he was a student there, and delighted in playing the role of ideological purist, even – or especially – if it puts him at odds with fellow Republicans.

The Hagel attacks have drawn cries of McCarthyism from the left, a torrent of negative media coverage, and earned Cruz a public rebuke from John McCain. But none of this has bothered Cruz, and for good reason: His standing within the conservative movement is only growing.

And here's Greg Sargent:

...a spokesperson for Cruz is standing by the charges, claiming: “Senator Cruz’s substantive point was absolutely correct: in the mid-1990s, the Harvard Law School faculty included numerous self-described proponents of ‘critical legal studies’ — a school of thought explicitly derived from Marxism – and they far outnumbered Republicans.”

The Cruz spokesperson didn’t elaborate on how precisely these Reds are advocating the overthrow of the government.

Cruz is talking about critical legal theorists. I read a fair amount of CLS stuff back in the day, and I wrote a bit about it, and I was more critic than not. There's another fellow around my age, by the way, who investigated it and found some of it interesting but was not a CLS person, according to his contemporaries with whom I've spoken. He was named Obama.

Anyway if Cruz can't tell the difference between critical legal theory and communism, and doesn't understand the distinction between Marxist and Marxian, that's his stupidity. But it's more--it's his way of seeing the world, and in this he is emblematic of the rage-machine aspects of today's GOP's that I wrote about over the weekend.

Here we have in Cruz someone who is obviously intelligent. I'm not bewitched by any and all who hold a Harvard law degree, but you have to reasonably smart to get one. So he clearly has the potential to come to Washington and involve himself in a serious way in discussions.

But what does he do instead? All the things Kornacki and Sargent catalogue. He's here to throw bombs. And throwing bombs is exactly what is making him a star. He will undoubtedly be a hot ticket at the upcoming CPAC convention, and not because he has a Harvard law degree; indeed they will try not to hold that against him. So here we have again the malevolent symbiosis at work.

Cruz is feeding the rage machine and being magnificently rewarded. As long as you say crazy stuff about liberals, denounce Harvard, you're great. That's what modern conservatism values above all else. And the "responsible" conservatives refuse to say anything about this.