Or, Why I Don't Think Ted Cruz is really running for President.
During remarks at a Heritage Foundation event dubbed the "Jesse Helms Lecture Series," Cruz told a story of Helms receiving a $5,000 political donation from actor John Wayne, who apparently later told Helms he liked him because "you're that guy saying all those crazy things" and that there needed to be 100 more of him.
"It's every bit as true now as it was then," Cruz said. "We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate."
Two problems here, and they come down to one: Who the hell is Ted Cruz appealing to? My parents?
I remember John Wayne as a tolerable actor, a movie star, and a political yutz. My daughter knows John Wayne as a movie star, kinda sorta. My parents' generation, at least the ones who didn't disdain Wayne for sitting out WWII and then making movies that looked like he won that war singlehandedly, is not getting any younger, and in 3 years even fewer of them will be around to remember Wayne fondly and transfer that love to Cruz.
And how many of them remember Jesse Helms with equal fondness?
Hell, this kinda stuff is toxic even in Texas; at least among people who remember John Wayne and Jesse Helms.
Let me put it this way: I mentioned to a high school student today that my high school didn't desegregate until 1971. He was astonished that it occurred so late. Obviously his understanding of history is that racism left institutions at a much faster pace, just as Chris Hayes was amazed to learn Martin Luther King wasn't a universally beloved figure in his own lifetime. And here's Ted Cruz, praising a dead white guy that voters like that kid (well, in 3 years) will ask "Who?", and get told what an unreprentant racist Helms was? As Wonkette so neatly summed Helms up:
[a man] who filibustered for sixteen days a bill to recognize Martin Luther King’s birthday as a federal holiday, who called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress,” who called homosexuals “weak, morally sick wretches” and said that every case of AIDS in America could be traced directly to sodomy and fought vigorously to deny any federal funding to research on the disease, who spent his Senate career trying to keep black judges from being appointed to the federal bench, who helped found the Moral Majority, who introduced over and over after Roe v. Wade constitutional amendments to ban abortion, and who once suggested erecting a wall around the University of North Carolina to keep its supposedly liberal views from infecting the rest of the state.
That's the guy Cruz just embraced in a John Wayne bear hug. Is the GOP really gonna be that excited to drag all this history up in 2016?
So is Cruz that stupid? Or does he love attention and the sound of his own voice that much? Charlie Pierce laments that while Trent Lott's encomiums to Strom Thurmond cost Lott is political career, this won't even slow Cruz down. Well, hell, nothing is gonna slow Cruz down, at least not in his efforts to get in front of people and speak his puny mind.
But is he going anywhere fast? I don't think so.