September 18, 2014

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It might be a naïveté stemming from my mere 34 years on earth, but is Ted Cruz not the worst charlatan since “€œMan of the People”€ Slick Willie slimed his way into the White House of my youth?

In preparation for his nakedly opportunistic presidential campaign coming two years hence, Senator Cruz took time last week to show off his pro-Israel bona fides using Middle Eastern Christians as a prop. Appearing before the inaugural dinner for In Defense of Christians, Cruz used the occasion to flatter the State of Israel apropos of nothing. In doing so, he either proved himself an idiot with zero knowledge of regional politics, or purposefully chucked some of the world’s most persecuted people to the wolves in an act of political theater.

My bet is on the latter. Ted Cruz graduated from Princeton and is known to crack wise about “€œminor Ivies“€ like Brown and Penn. Only Yalies, Harvard alums, and fellow Princetonians were fit for his study circles at Harvard Law School, where he graduated magna cum laude.

“Where are their headset microphones? And if these guys love Jesus so much, why are they in a war zone instead of driving a Lexus?”€

For their part, Middle Eastern Christians are, quite understandably, lukewarm at best about the State of Israel. In the past, Israel has denied Christians access to holy sites in the Levant. The Israeli authority destroyed the house of Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, in 2013. Perhaps more to the point, Israelis aren”€™t flinging their borders open to provide safe haven for their Christian Semitic brethren. Who can blame Middle Eastern Christians for asking “€œWhat has Israel done for us lately?”€ “€¨

Such tidbits are but trivia to Cruz and his retinue, who clearly consider signaling neoconservative geopolitical concerns to be of a higher priority than the survival of their coreligionists.

Predictably, the low-information wing of the pseudo-conservative press chimed in, rattling the yokelry from their slumber. Both Breitbart and Town Hall rendered “€œChristian”€ in scare quotes. Nominally conservative readers in exurbs from Orange County to Alexandria furrowed their brows, wondering how one could be both an Arab and a Christian. What’s up with these so-called “€œArab Christians”€ and their robed, bearded clergymen? Where are their headset microphones? And if these guys love Jesus so much, why are they in a war zone instead of driving a Lexus?

Compare the actions of Israel with those of the Kurds. A stateless people, the Kurds not only offer refuge to Arab Christians, they have also mounted some of the stiffest military resistance against Islamism on record. Considering that the Kurds are arguably the strongest (and certainly the most militant) ally America has in fighting ISIS, would it have killed Cruz to pay homage to their efforts, rather than invoking the red herring of Israel?

Political theater is a leitmotif with Cruz, an ersatz tough talker whose affected, “€œOh, gee whiz, you guys,”€ Mr. Smith Goes to Washington facade is one of the most nauseating developments in recent political history. Then again, almost everything he does is in the running for sleaziest move of the decade.

First there was the filibuster that wasn”€™t: the time Cruz pretended to bring the Senate to its knees with a litany of (actually legitimate) complaints about Obamacare. This was the first time the Princetonian pulled his vox populi routine, reading letters allegedly written by American families in dire straits due to rising health care costs.

It reeked of “€œme too”€ after Rand Paul’s principled stand against domestic drones, and the press quickly forced Cruz to backtrack. It wasn”€™t a filibuster at all, but an agreement with Harry Reid that he could blather on until his black little heart was content. The stunt achieved little beyond raising Cruz’s profile nationally among the kind of low-information, reality-show-addled Fox News voters that dictate discourse in the Republican Party.


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