Towards the conclusion of his 2,700 word plus article on Ted Cruz’s forthcoming GOP presidential bid announcement, Jeff Lord acknowledges, “Ted Cruz is, of course, not Ronald Reagan. As with every other human on the planet, there was only one Reagan.”
Yet this does not prevent Jeff from making 67 other references to Ronald Reagan in his piece.
I just don’t see it.
Now don’t get me wrong. Ted Cruz has very quickly found his way to the national stage. But then again so did Barack Obama. And much like Obama, he’s throwing his hat into ring scarcely two years into his Senate term without much in the way of achievement. While the two men are diametrically opposed ideologically, I see more parallels between Cruz and Obama than I do with Cruz and Reagan.
If you strip away the Reagan references in Jeff’s article there’s not much left. Jeff praises Cruz’s “bold plan to defund Obamacare” and “holding Senate Republicans accountable in a vote to raise the debt limit,” but these efforts ultimately went nowhere. OK, I liked it when Cruz held Chuck Hagel’s feet to the fire and didn’t like it when John McCain undercut that effort. But Jeff also praises Cruz for walking out of a conference of Middle East Christians when he thought Israel was being booed. However, Cruz’s abrupt exit bewildered conservatives like Kathryn Jean Lopez, Matt K. Lewis, Mollie Hemingway and Ross Douthat.
Cruz reminds Jeff of Reagan because of his use of “line in the sand” tactics noting that it was “something Reagan used repeatedly as candidate and president.” But this is where I think you will find the biggest difference between Reagan and Cruz. Reagan knew when it was time to fight and knew when it was time to work with the Jesse Unruhs and the Tip O’Neills of the world. Reagan knew how to pick his battles and I don’t think Cruz has quite mastered this yet. This isn’t to say that Cruz can’t adapt. Indeed there is some indication that he is adapting. Although Cruz opposed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s deal with Democrats to keep funding DHS without stopping Obama’s executive orders on immigration, he did not take measures to block the deal. Curiously, Jeff did not mention this particular detail when he assailed McConnell for caving in to Democrats.
If there is a Republican presidential aspirant who I would consider Reaganesque, it would be Scott Walker. His legendary battles with public sector unions remind me of Reagan’s battles with the air traffic controllers as well as his battle with communists when he was President of the Screen Actors Guild. But I wouldn’t argue that Scott Walker is a modern day Ronald Reagan. Although they might both come from humble beginnings and have a midwestern sensibility about them, Walker was born a year after Reagan was first elected Governor of California. No one who was born in 1967 like Walker (or in 1970 like Cruz) can understand what it was like to live through the Great Depression and WWII. Walker, Cruz and every other GOP presidential hopeful’s life experiences aren’t those of Reagan. We can learn from Reagan, but we can’t live in his time.
I like Scott Walker because I think he is the Republican who has best demonstrated that he can govern, knows how to pick his battles and win them. Ted Cruz has not convinced me of this capability. Of course, Cruz may rise to the occasion and convince Republicans that he can govern and choose his battles wisely, myself included. If Ted Cruz does win the GOP nomination, he will have to earn it as Ted Cruz, not as Ronald Reagan. In other words, let Reagan be Reagan.