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Why Ted Cruz isn't a viable option for the Republican party

In the wake of Ted Cruz's victory in the Iowa Caucuses, he has become the "flavor of the week" among pundits. We'll be hearing more and more between now and New Hampshire about the "surging" Ted Cruz.

And Cruz could win the nomination. The problem is that he would have zero chance of defeating even a crippled Democratic nominee in November.

President Obama has had his popularity problems, but even at their worst Congress has made him look like Mr. Popularity by comparison. It's been ages since its popularity has reached the 20% mark.

But why? Anybody who's been paying attention knows the reason: because it can't get anything done. Because childish and petulant partisanship has prevented Democrats and Republicans from cooperating. Because in Congress these days, compromise is a dirty word.

Because of gridlock. And Ted Cruz is the poster child for gridlock.

Nominating Ted Cruz would be like nominating the bubonic plague. In all of Washington, he is probably the most prominent symbol of inflexibility and unreason. At my precinct caucus Monday night, the speaker for Cruz actually bragged that "if you're looking for somebody who's going to compromise, look someplace else because Ted Cruz is not your man."

Cruz's inflexibility is, ironically, a virtue to his supporters, ideologues who think that since the Republicans have a majority in both houses of Congress they can and should simply run roughshod over the opposition. That you sometimes need the cooperation of the people on the other side of the aisle doesn't occur to them. That you would receive the same treatment when the other side is in the majority doesn't occur to them. And the key point: that it makes you look to the voters like childish extremists who don't care about anything but getting your own way doesn't occur to them. Or they don't care.

That lady who made the speech supporting Cruz at my caucus actually bragged about his single-handedly filibustering and holding up the business of the Senate in order to "resist" a provision of Obamacare that was never going to be passed anyway!

That inflexibility and refusal to compromise is, of course, precisely what makes him attractive to the red meat crowd. But it's also what has made him so unpopular in his own Senate caucus, where he is said to have no future if he decides to make a career of being a senator. Not a single Republican senator has endorsed his candidacy. That ought to tell us something.

Ted Cruz simply doesn't play well with others. He would make a lousy diplomat as president; dealing with foreign leaders requires a degree of tact and flexibility he just doesn't have. And he would be a disaster at dealing with even the members of his own party in Congress.

But he will never get the chance. He'll never get the chance because more than any other single individual in Washington he symbolizes and embodies everything the huge majority of American voters who are not fanatical conservative fire-eaters are most angry about. He is governmental dysfunction personified.

Donald Trump is a special case. I've addressed the trouble with The Donald before. But with the possible exception of Trump, if you were to go in search of the worst possible candidate for the Republican party to nominate in this particular year, Ted Cruz would be your man. Even a hobbled Democratic party would eat this guy for lunch.

Whoever gets the Republican nomination is going to have to be a uniter. He's going to have to unify a divided party. Ted Cruz can't do that. Once elected, he's going to have to work with the Democrats and regain the trust of the American people for the American government. Ted Cruz can't do that. He's going to have to work with Congress and with members of both parties to fix what's broken about our system. But Ted Cruz exemplifies what's broken about our system.

The very things which make him so popular among hard-core conservatives make it absolutely impossible for him to be elected, and would make it impossible for him to govern in the impossible case that he was.

Ted Cruz can't unite the party. He can't unite the country. And he can't be the Republican nominee for President of the United States in 2016.

Photo By DonkeyHotey via


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