There’s no point in parsing all the verbal volleys in the latest Republican debate, which one again was the equivalent of a Michael Bay action flick, a blustering bludgeoning macho entertainment that pummeled the cognitive intellect and reduced one’s brain to the consistency of mixed nuts.
So I’ll simply focus on the Ted Cruz’s hypocrisy-laced outburst about the alleged evils of “New York values.” It was so egregiously mindless, and so stereotypically insulting, that it wound up making Donald Trump look good. Which tells you plenty about Cruz.
Cruz birthed this riff on Tuesday, when he said, in radio and later on Fox News, that Trump “comes from New York and embodies New York values .... The rest of the country knows exactly what New York values are, and, I gotta say, they’re not Iowa values and they’re not New Hampshire values.”
I get that Cruz is trying to supplant Trump at the top of the heap, but come on, what he said in Thursday night’s debate just reeks.
“I think most people know exactly what New York values are,” Cruz said. “Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay-marriage, and focus around money and the media.”
First of all, San Francisco is surely happy to be off the hook. A generation ago, the typical GOP tactic was to tar-brush the opposition as “San Francisco Democrats,” to thus insinuate that all Dems were amoral hedonists with no ties to the stars n’ stripes. Now we have Cruz taking the game eastward. Perhaps he’s irked that Saturday Night Live described him as having “a punchable face,” but, clearly, he just thinks that his blanket smear will resonate, at Trump’s expense, with parochial denizens of the Republican base.
However, there’s a big reason why Cruz is hated by so many in his own party. It’s his brazen hypocrisy.
On the one hand, he condemns what he calls New York’s “focus around money.” On the other hand, he happily pockets New York money. One of his biggest benefactors is New York hedge fund mogul Robert Mercer, who has reportedly pumped $11 million into Cruzworld. Another is the New York-based Sullivan & Cromwell law firm. Another is New York-based Goldman Sachs, which loaned a million bucks to his successful ‘12 Senate bid (this is the money that Cruz failed to disclose because of a so-called paperwork error).
And the next time he cruises New York to shill for money, perhaps he should roll down the window of his limo and soak in the obvious info that refutes his stereotypical insult. Yeah, there are people in New York who support the constitutional right to an abortion (as elsewhere in the country), as well as those who support gay marriage (a stance that’s now American mainstream). But New York is also the cops who live on Staten Island, the working stiffs in Queens, the firefighters who couldn’t care less about politics but who would risk their lives to save his.
Cruz’s yammering pejoratives about “New York values” prompted Trump to say this:
“When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York .... You had two 110-story buildings come crashing down. I saw them come down. Thousands of people killed, and the cleanup started the next day, and it was the most horrific cleanup, probably in the history of doing this, and in construction. I was down there, and I’ve never seen anything like it.
“And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death — nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell, the air. And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched, and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers. And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.”
By that point, even Cruz was compelled to clap. This guy is supposedly so bright, yet he couldn’t see that he was walking into the 9/11 buzz saw? It takes a lot to put Trump on the high road, to make him sound like Cicero, but somehow Cruz pulled it off. And by the end of the 150-minute marathon, Trump stood taller as a candidate. Thanks a lot, Ted.
But hey, no worries. Because when Ted Cruz is president, he’ll use any international incident — like the American sailors’ encounter with Iran, a crisis that was snuffed within 10 hours — to unleash the dogs of war: “Any nation that captures our fighting men will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America!” Yeah, baby. Carpet-bomb that water, make it glow.
Welcome to “Ted Cruz values.” I’ll take his New York stereotype any day.
Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia (newsworks.org/polman) and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Philadelphia. Email him at email@example.com.