The hackiest of hack attacks on Ted Cruz has just been published at Politico by hackmeister general Mike Allen. The piece can be read here (safe Google cache link, since I don’t link Politico) and is titled What Ted Cruz Said Behind Closed Doors:
In June, Ted Cruz promised on NPR that opposition to gay marriage would be “front and center” in his 2016 campaign.
Actually, let’s stop right there, because Mike Allen is already lying to you. Or more, accurately, he is repeating an NPR lie that he either didn’t verify, or is actively misrepresenting. In June, NPR ran a piece titled Cruz: Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage Will Be ‘Front And Center’ In 2016 Campaign. But I actually bothered to listen to the interview, and that’s not what he said. Here’s the “front and center” language in context. Speaking of the gay marriage decision and the ObamaCare decision, Cruz said:
This week in response to both of these decisions, I have called for another constitutional amendment – this one that would make members of the Supreme Court subject to periodic judicial retention elections. As a very real check, 20 states have retention elections they’ve put in place, if judges overstep their bounds, violate the constitution, then the people have a check to remove them from office. I’ve called for that change. That is very much front and center something I intend to campaign on. And marriage and religious liberty are going to be integral, I believe, to motivating the American people to come out and vote for what’s ultimately restoring our constitutional system.
Again: “both of these decisions” means the ObamaCare decision and the gay marriage decision.
In the same interview, Cruz also talks about amendments to redefine marriage as between a man and a woman, and stripping the courts of jurisdiction over marriage. But those proposals are not the subject of the “front and center” language, which relates to judicial retention elections. Cruz was not talking about placing “opposition to gay marriage” front and center. He was talking about responding to a lawless gay marriage decision, and the ObamaCare decision, by proposing a way to check the power of lawless judges: with a constitutional amendment authorizing judicial retention elections.
In other words, Allen lies to you in the first sentence of his piece. More from Allen:
But in December, behind closed doors at a big-dollar Manhattan fundraiser, the quickly ascending presidential candidate assured a Republican gay-rights supporter that a Cruz administration would not make fighting same-sex marriage a top priority.
In a recording provided to POLITICO, Cruz answers a flat “No” when asked whether fighting gay marriage is a “top-three priority,” an answer that pleased his socially moderate hosts but could surprise some of his evangelical backers.
While Cruz’s private comments to a more moderate GOP audience do not contradict what the Republican Texas senator has said elsewhere, they demonstrate an adeptness at nuance in tone and emphasis that befits his Ivy League background. Indeed, the wording looks jarring when compared with the conservative, evangelical rhetoric he serves at his rallies, which have ballooned in size and excitement as he has moved to the front of the pack in Iowa.
How many specific examples does Allen provide of “conservative, evangelical rhetoric” that supposedly contradicts the tone of Cruz’s comments at the Manhattan fundraiser? If you guessed “zero” then you’re paying attention. Yet Allen runs around collecting quotes from people claiming to be astounded at Cruz’s alleged doubletalk:
A well-known Republican operative not affiliated with a 2016 campaign said by email when sent Cruz’s quote: “Wow. Does this not undermine all of his positions? Abortion, Common Core — all to the states? … Worse, he sounds like a slick D.C. politician — says one thing on the campaign trail and trims his sails with NYC elites. Not supposed to be like that.”
. . . .
[A]n adviser to a rival campaign, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wants to stay behind the scenes, said the Manhattan comments could help opponents portray Cruz as “calculating” at a time voters are rewarding authenticity.
“There’s an Iowa Ted and a New York Ted,” the adviser said. “He sounds different behind closed doors.”
Before proceeding any further with Allen’s breathlessly tendentious characterizations, let’s look at what Cruz actually said at the fundraiser, in full context:
Q: Can I ask you a question? So, I’m a big supporter. And the only issue I really disagree with you about is gay marriage. And I’m curious: Given all the problems that the country’s facing — like ISIS, the growth of government — how big a priority is fighting gay marriage going to be to a Cruz administration?
CRUZ: “My view on gay marriage is that I’m a constitutionalist and marriage is a question for the states. And so I think if someone wants to change the marriage laws of their state, the way to do so is convince your fellow citizens — and change them democratically, rather than five unelected judges. … Being a constitutionalist is integral to my approach to every other issue. So that I’m very devoted to.
Q: So would you say it’s like a top-three priority for you — fighting gay marriage?
CRUZ: “No. I would say defending the Constitution is a top priority. And that cuts across the whole spectrum — whether it’s defending [the] First Amendment, defending religious liberty, stopping courts from making public policy issues that are left to the people. …
I also think the 10th Amendment of the Constitution cuts across a whole lot of issues and can bring people together. People of New York may well resolve the marriage question differently than the people of Florida or Texas or Ohio. … That’s why we have 50 states — to allow a diversity of views. And so that is a core commitment.
Note carefully the references to “five unelected judges” and his conviction that if you want to change this policy, “the way to do so is convince your fellow citizens.”
Now, let’s look at the NPR piece in which Cruz supposedly said something different in public. The transcript is here, but I find this passage interesting:
CRUZ: Well, look, this country is always changing. But — but my point about the Supreme Court is the Supreme Court didn’t wait for the country to change. Five unelected lawyers overruled 320 million Americans. Justice Scalia in dissent said these five unelected lawyers in robes have become the rulers of 320 million Americans.
Steve, you may well on policy grounds agree with the Supreme Court’s decision. If you had a referendum, you may well vote for gay marriage. Well, under our Constitution, there’s a way to make policy changes. The proper way to make policy changes is for you to convince your fellow citizens that there is a better policy outcome than the current one. And then in state legislatures, for those state legislatures to vote that change.
How different he sounds here! In public, Cruz decried the actions of “five unelected lawyers.” But behind closed doors, this suddenly became “five unelected judges.” WHICH IS IT, MR. CRUZ?? In public, Cruz told the hayseed yokels at National Public Radio: “The proper way to make policy changes is for you to convince your fellow citizens.” But get him behind closed doors with some elite Manhattan donors with fat wallets, and all of sudden he says that if you want to change marriage laws, “the way to do so is convince your fellow citizens.” OK, so the words are exactly the same. BUT DO YOU HEAR HOW DIFFERENT THE TONE IS???!!!!1!!!!1!!
Even worse, in June, Cruz described the need to rein in lawless judges as something he would put “front and center” in his campaign. But now, he is telling Manhattan donors that a commitment to constitutionalism is “a top priority” and a “core commitment.”
Wow, Mike Allen has really revealed Ted Cruz as a devious snake-oil salesman, hasn’t he?!