The Houston Chronicle has published an editorial saying that they regret endorsing Ted Cruz for Senate in 2012. And look, I do feel a certain amount of schadenfreude about it. But the article is more a call for what passes for moderation in politics, Why We Miss Kay Bailey Hutchison. Well, the Chronicle could have endorsed Paul Sadler, the Democrat running against Cruz last year. Given his history in the Texas legislature, he is definitely the kind of guy who the paper claims it wants representing Texas. So why didn’t they support Sadler?
If you read their original endorsement (Which they did not link to!) they say they are not endorsing Sadler because he can’t win. Really! Go read it yourself. But they say lots of nice things about him. Most of their endorsement is a love letter to Hutchison, who they quote as saying, “[Ted Cruz is] going to have to choose early between being loyal to Jim DeMint and Mike Lee and the needs of the people of Texas.” Well, he clearly has made his choice, and it isn’t Texas. This should have come as no surprise to anyone at the Houston Chronicle.
But what is it about Kay Bailey Hutchison? Was she really a crossing isles, practical “Let’s get things done!” politician? No, not really. Certainly she was better than Ted Cruz. But consider how she dealt with the financial crisis. While George Bush Jr was president, she voted in favor of TARP—the huge bank bailout. But once Obama was in office, she voted against the Stimulus. She even wrote a Townhall apologia for the vote. Her argument was that some economists believe that government stimulus in 1933 made the Great Depression worse. Thus, stimulus was just going to make things worse in 2009. Well, first, you have to dig pretty deep to find economists who think the stimulus made the Depression worse. Second, like all of her Republican colleagues, she was jut looking for an excuse to thumb her nose at the new Democratic president. Bipartisanship, my ass!
So the Houston Chronicle can regret all they want that Ted Cruz is the junior Texas Senator. But it is institutions just like itself that have allowed the Republican Party to go off the rails. Ted Cruz is the newest model. Kay Bailey Hutchison was the previous model. I’m sure that in 20 years, the Chronicle will be singing the praises of Ted Cruz as though he is the very definition of a Good Senator, but that new guy (Ted Cruz V. 2.0) is a total disappointment.
All of this gets to my constant problem with the press in this country. If they really did appreciate the days when Lloyd Bentsen was a titan in the Senate, then they would be supporting people like Paul Sadler. But instead, they cheer on the ever harder right turn of the nation’s politics (but not people). And they would never do that on the left. If Dennis Kucinich had been running for Senate in Texas, they would have called foul. Liberal extremist, no way! Conservative extremist, hope for the best! And I have no doubt at all that the Houston Chronicle will support Ted Cruz in 2018. And most likely, they will say the same thing about his Democratic candidate. Why? “Because of a simple lack of interest and support from his own party.” Yeah, that’s a reason to support a right wing extremist and narcissist who would destroy the world if it gave him a small advantage.
Endorse in haste; regret in leisure you bastards.
Update (16 October 2013 2:04 pm)
Abby Rapoport has a great article at The American Prospect, What Explains Ted Cruz? Her answer is simple, “Texas, for starters.” She notes that in Texas right now, the Republican Party pretty much is the Tea Party. And in that context, Ted Cruz is a hero. Outside that context, the situation is at best unclear. But here’s the thing. In ten years at most, not even Texas will be a safe place for Ted Cruz. The Tea Party folk are not wrong that this is their last chance to “save” their country. It is slipping out of their grasp very fast.