Canadian-born Rafael “Ted” Cruz, miffed because Donald Trump plays “Born in the USA” during his rallies, stated, “I think he may shift … to … ‘New York, New York’ because Donald comes from New York and he embodies New York values.” When asked to explain, during the latest debate of Republican candidates, he said, “Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, focus around money and the media … not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I’m just saying.”
This son of an immigrant, whose wife borrowed $1 million for his Senate campaign from her employer, Goldman Sachs, the quintessential Wall Street powerhouse investment bank, had the temerity to attack New Yorkers, women’s rights and fundamental civil rights in one single comment before a national audience.
It reminded me of the “Ford to City: Drop Dead” headline in the Daily News in 1975 which referred to Republican President Gerald Ford’s promise to veto any bill to help New York City bail itself out of its worst fiscal crisis. Cruz’s comment speaks volumes about his insensitivity as a candidate. The Republican Party should have learned that there comes a time to rebuke its own members.
Cruz simplistically uses tough talk to describe what he would do with enemies of America. During the campaign, he promised to “carpet bomb” Islamic militants when fighting ISIS. He has repeatedly said that we should use “overwhelming air power” against the militant Islamic State. He is light on the details.
When he was solicitor general of Texas, Cruz argued a fine point of habeas corpus procedure before the Supreme Court that kept a defendant incorrectly sentenced in prison longer than necessary. In the Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy was compelled to ask Cruz, “Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?”
Cruz lacks the temperament to be a senator and if elected president, his rhetoric could become reality. His rhetoric is devoid of compassion for the less fortunate and recognition of the need for cooperation.
His speeches are filled with violent metaphors. He wants to “crush” the EPA, “destroy” the IRS, find out if the sand in the Syrian desert can “glow” and “destroy” the Iran nuclear deal. The singular lack of positivity is striking. He thinks strength is the immediate and overwhelming use of force whenever and wherever possible.
He attempted to take political advantage from the successful return of 10 U.S. sailors and two small vessels from Iran. The boats and crews were detained after they strayed into Iranian waters. Cruz promised during the debate, although no one asked for a comment, that “any nation that captures our fighting men will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America.” I suppose his preferred resolution would have been war and no return of the sailors.
Cruz consistently chooses words of hate and division instead of hope and unity. After a debate of Democratic candidates, he commented, “We’re seeing our freedoms taken away every day and last night was an audition for who would wear the jackboot most vigorously.” No reasonable person can take someone that says things like this seriously. He occasionally lightens the rhetorical tone of death and doom when sharing a laugh with members of a gun club.
In contrast, President Obama’s final State of the Union address contained a clear vision of hope with a diametrically different approach to obtaining change. He correctly pointed out that he achieved medical coverage for the uninsured, low unemployment and economic growth. Almost 18 million uninsured Americans now have healthcare and the rate of inflation for the cost of healthcare has slowed.
He directly rebutted Ted Cruz and Donald Trump for intolerant comments. The address also relegated the majority of Republicans to the status of obstructionists instead of leaders since they cannot discuss change or compromise.
The GOP will not win a national campaign unless its members differentiate their goals and messages. It is true that young and working class people are giving “The Donald” big audiences and good poll numbers but Mr. Obama correctly pointed out, “Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever … we shouldn’t weaken them. We should strengthen them … [and] anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”
We must resist the temptation to hate and instead look toward the future and find common ground to work together to make it brighter for the next generation. Hopefully, Republican voters during the New York primary will recall Cruz’s comments and then New Yorkers, immigrants, women and believers in civil rights can politely ask him to drop dead. I’m just saying.