I have said that I think Ted Cruz’s attack on “New York values” was a mistake. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with attacking a leftist ideology, it’s that you attack the ideology and not an area of the country. He should have attacked New York leftists and not New York generally. That said, Kevin D. Williamson, who I generally like, had an piece about this whole kerfuffle this morning in National Review that I disagreed with quite strongly:
Courting the boob vote, Cruz is campaigning as a boob, a project complicated by the fact that there is a much bigger boob in the race: Donald Trump. Cruz, an affluent Ivy Leaguer, needed to distinguish himself from Trump, a very rich Ivy Leaguer, and what he came up with was: “New York values.” A Republican presidential candidate need not trouble himself too much about New York’s votes in the Electoral College, and Trump himself had used the phrase to characterize his many departures from the traditional conservatism of the Republican party, of which he is a freshly minted member. Cruz, canny politician that he is, never bothered to go into much detail about what is meant by “New York values.” Sneering at them was enough.
This is just false. Williamson’s piece was published today, and so he clearly had time to see the detail that Dana already noted in her post from two days ago:
“I apologize to the hard working men and women of the state of New York who’ve been denied jobs because Gov. Cuomo won’t allow fracking,” Cruz continued. “I apologize to all the pro-life and pro-marriage and pro-Second Amendment New Yorkers who were told by Gov. Cuomo that they have no place in New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are. I apologize to all of the small businesses who’ve been driven out of New York City by crushing taxes and regulations.
“I apologize to all of the African-American children who Mayor de Blasio tried to throw out of their charter schools instead of providing a lifeline at the American dream. And I apologize to all the cops and the firefighters and 9/11 heroes who had no choice but to stand and turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio because Mayor de Blasio over and over again stands with the looters and criminals rather than the brave men and women of blue.”
That’s plenty of detail about what Cruz meant, and Williamson has to have known about Cruz’s “apology.” It gets worse:
Our cities are disproportionately black, but they are not disproportionately Martian. Our cities have many immigrants, but not immigrants from the Land of People Who Don’t Care About Their Kids and Really Like Paying High Taxes. Ask a black Democrat in the Bronx working to support a family whether he’d prefer to make more money or less, to keep more of his money or less, to have more economic security or less, for his children to have more educational opportunities or fewer, and he will give the same answers as any plaid-panted Brooks Brothers specimen haunting the Merion Cricket Club — or any white oilman running a fracking rig in the Eagle Ford shale. His values are New York values, too.
Oh, come on. Sure, all Americans want to have a lot of stuff and pay nothing, but those aren’t “values.” That’s just ignorance.
I’ll say the obvious thing that Williamson is gently avoiding: the Bronx Democrat of whom he speaks wants government to take care of people soup to nuts. He wants a large government, and wants to pay for it by soaking the rich. These are, quite simply, not limited-government values.
Let’s not pretend that we can all hold hands and sing Kumbaya because in our hearts, we all have the same values. Some people want government to do too much, and some of us want government to do a lot less. There are real differences here.
That said, the way Cruz phrased his attack was disappointing and a mistake. He is campaigning to be President of the entire United States, not just rural evangelicals. I want him to be forceful about his principles and to articulate them strongly, but I also want him to build bridges and be inclusive to those who are willing to support limited government. Attacking an entire city, as opposed to an ideology, is not the way to do that.