Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Why are liberals so obsessed with Ted Cruz? That’s the question right-wing writers Andrew Stiles and Rich Lowry set out to answer in two separate columns that went up within an hour of each other yesterday (purely by coincidence, I’m sure).
Lowry’s theory is that liberals can’t get enough Cruz because they are enraged by his Ivy League background. The liberals can’t understand how a guy who went to Princeton and Harvard has these crazy beliefs. Cruz comes in for extra scorn because he is “a traitor to his class.”
Democrats and liberal pundits would surely dislike Cruz no matter where he went to school, but his pedigree adds an extra element of shocked disbelief to the disdain. “Princeton and Harvard should be disgraced,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell exclaimed on MSNBC, as if graduating a constitutionalist conservative who rises to national prominence is a violation of the schools’ mission statements.
It almost is. Princeton and Harvard aren’t quite the École Nationale d’Administration, the French school that trains that country’s political class, but they are close.
A “constitutionalist conservative” emerging from Harvard Law is actually not remotely surprising. Do you know who else went to Harvard Law? Antonin Scalia! And John Roberts!
But Lowry is actually sort of right. Cruz’s background is certainly interesting, because those schools are supposed to reinforce an elite “moderate” ruling class ideology in their future world-running students. The conservatives it turns out are supposed to be “respectable” ones whose actual beliefs may be precisely as despicable as Michele Bachmann’s but whose arguments sound very reasonable. Cruz is playing against type. But the Ivy League thing is not actually why liberals “hate” Cruz.
Stiles’ column is mainly just a list of mean things liberals have said and written about Cruz. Well, mostly liberals. One of his first examples is Joe Scarborough, the former Republican member of Congress. (Other representative “liberals” include Bill Maher, Tina Brown and Mike Barnicle. You know, all the main liberals.) “The Left’s animosity toward Cruz is approaching hysterical levels not seen since John McCain chose Sarah Palin as a running mate,” Stiles says, comparing Cruz to another figure reviled almost as much by establishment conservatives as by “The Left.”
Stiles would also like to note that liberals are the Real Racists:
It’s worth noting that people launching these attacks on Ted Cruz are the same people who instantly impute malign or racist motives to almost any criticism of President Obama. (In the world of MSNBC, for example, it is apparently racist to point out that the president plays a lot of golf, or even to refer to him as “Obama.”)
Throughout the column, Stiles prints the mean things liberals say about Cruz — “political terrorist” and so on — without ever describing the actual things Cruz said or did that these awful liberals were upset about. Like, Chris Matthews compared Cruz to Joseph McCarthy. Why did he do this? Because Chris Matthews is a mean jerk? Or because Cruz literally accused Chuck Hagel of being a bought-off pawn of North Korea and Saudi Arabia? (Hint: The latter.) Stiles also doesn’t note that Republicans rebuked Cruz for his line of questioning. (Stiles also doesn’t note that he was one of the conservative writers who pushed the ridiculous “Friends of Hamas” smear.)
Let me attempt to answer this. Liberals write about Ted Cruz because conservatives are obsessed with him. He is one of the most popular politicians on the right, winning conservative straw polls and sitting among the top of the pack in opinion polls of Republicans nationwide. He is very good at drawing attention to himself, something that often seems to be his primary goal as a senator. He is not just hated by The Left, he is hated by many Republicans. He has gotten into fights with John McCain.
But the biggest reason he has been getting so much attention lately isn’t the Ivy League thing, or even the Canadian thing. It’s the “holding the country hostage until his impossible demands are met” thing. He is the loudest and most prominent figure behind the recent plot to shut down the government unless Obamacare was defunded — a plot that was notable mostly because the idea was so popular on the activist right that it seemed for a time like it might actually happen. Cruz has spent months, with the backing of prominent allies like the Heritage Foundation, pushing shutdown as a prudent and popular strategy. This has led to an outpouring of writing — from conservatives — politely begging Republicans not to listen to Cruz.
The media can’t stop talking about Ted Cruz because Ted Cruz is doing everything he can to get the media to talk about him. “Why can’t you stop talking about Ted Cruz” is the “why are you hitting yourself” of political commentary.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)