SEATTLE — Tom Cruise is seeking box office dominance at theaters with his upcoming Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Ted Cruz is seeking dominance of a difference sort in a campaign to correct a nation gone rogue.
While Tom Cruise’s domestic star was diminished by exuberant couch-jumping and finger-wagging Matt Lauer, Ted Cruz’s star became brighter while lecturing Americans on the virtues of Green Eggs and Ham. Despite their respective astrological trajectories, it is Tom Cruise who likely has the easier task.
Cruz asked the American people to imagine a conservative president correcting the wrongs of the Obama administration, reasserting America’s proper influence in the world, and simplifying an all-too-complex government. Implicit in this exercise was the idea that in order to make it a reality, Cruz would need to be president. He would “stand with” grassroots America, but in the front.
Cruz has tapped into the fierce desire amongst conservatives that someone, somewhere show an ability and willingness to fight government overreach, specifically, President Obama’s. The fiscal and cultural landscape of this country increasingly resembles that of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” — something vaguely familiar, yet distorted and menacing.
Conservatives want a champion, and Cruz has sought to play the part. If others feared a government shutdown, he said, “bring-it-on!” If leadership said stopping Obamacare was impossible, Cruz would filibuster and show he was willing to fight for as long as his vocal cords and feet would allow.
In each of these efforts, the impression one gets from the Cruz approach is that Cruz fights, others don’t — or if they do, it is because of Cruz’s leadership rather than each man’s own intestinal fortitude. Cruz is a very, very smart man, which forces one to conclude that that is exactly the impression he wanted to leave. Among his staunchest supporters, to criticize Cruz shows your true colors as someone who is part of the problem.
Yet criticism isn’t just about tearing someone down, it can also be used to encourage the best use of one’s gifts. Therefore, to paraphrase Shakespeare, allow me to be cruel only to be kind.
Can any honest conservative deny that if Barack Obama had made his presidential announcement to a crowd compelled to be there or face a $10 fine that conservative pundits would be making hay out of it to this day? Ted Cruz can and has made mistakes.
Yes, conservatives need someone willing to anger important people. Someone willing to put the conservatives on the offense. Someone willing to tackle crony capitalism, entrenched politics, and most of all, someone willing to end the habit of conservatives ceding ground to liberals with their every advance. The question is, “Is Ted Cruz that man?”
To answer that question, we need to look at the past season of the Seattle Seahawks. When the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks were 3-3, it looked like they’d be lucky to make it to the playoffs at all. Just before that third loss, the Seahawks did something that took the sports world by surprise and left all of Washington state stunned. They traded Percy Harvin to the Jets for a midlevel draft pick.
Why? Harvin was as fast as fast gets. He was the kind of offensive weapon that every team had to watch out for, and whose ability every opponent had to respect. The Seahawks had dumped one of the greatest players in the league for practically nothing to the New York Jets.
Prior to Super Bowl Sunday, that was Coach Carroll’s most-questioned call. But then reports started to come out about problems in the locker room and problems on the field. Questions about the reliability of Harvin as a Seahawk were debated.
Fans heard of fighting among teammates, and allegations that a last straw was when the Harvin took himself out of a game — leaving coaches in a position where they didn’t know which weapons they had at their disposal or how they should plan to use them. Two days later, the Seahawks lost again — but this time they seemed a little sharper. After that, they marched their way to an NFC championship and a second consecutive appearance at the Super Bowl.
The difference was not just a player but a team. The team had to work together. They had to rely on one another and count on one another. Coaches needed a team that would take direction and run when the play called for a run and pass when it called for a pass.
During the NFL season, on my radio show, I have the pleasure of talking with former University of Washington star quarterback and Seattle Seahawk Brock Huard. He studies the games and watches them to see what every player is doing every play. And something he told me about the Seahawks stuck with me.
Brock said with a lot of teams, you’ll see the star players make their routes, but once the ball is passed elsewhere, they become spectators to the play. But with the Seahawks, you see players sacrificing for each other, making the extra blocks even if it means giving their teammate the glory.
Senator Cruz will have ample time to demonstrate to Republican primary voters what kind of player he is, and what kind of coach he might be, but to win he’ll need to convince conservative skeptics that his more publicized stands in the U.S. Senate were truly about advancing the cause and his team rather than merely tools to boost his own political celebrity.
The good news for committed Cruzaders, so far, is that the media attacks on Cruz since his launch are exactly the sort that unify conservatives in your favor.