Bill Murchison
Language, in politics, gets you only so far, but sometimes "so far" is far enough. Take 2008. I trust we all remember "hope and change"? We should. It helped propel a previously unknown community organizer into the White House, hence into our lives, as reorganizer-in-chief.

Ted Cruz, "the Republican new man of the moment," according to Fox News' Chris Wallace, has his own gifts as a wordsmith: less sugary, more to be compared with a boxing glove. In the runoff for U. S. senator from the great state of Texas, the previously unknown Cruz whammed the well-known David Dewhurst, talking hard-edge language that seemed right, to many, for the necessities of the moment. Like Dr. Samuel Johnson, he "talked for victory." Victory, it turned out, was what Cruz voters yearned for after three years of imposition by the Obama administration, as well as Congress, on their liberties and prosperity.

No more "clubs" filled with "career politicians" is Cruz's watchword. "We need to kick in the doors of the club, ring down the shades, and auction off the silverware," the former Supreme Court clerk and state solicitor general declared during the campaign. Pretty vivid stuff. No sugar, no trans fats.

Reverse populism, it might be called: populism less at ease with government power than in the bad, old Huey Long days is hugely disquieted at the notion that government seems to be taking over everything. "There are twin worlds," he told Chris Wallace. "There is the world of Washington and the Beltway, and then there is the rest of the country." In that "rest of the country," people are looking at Washington and saying, "What's wrong with you people?"

Or maybe not. Somebody elected Obama. Somebody keeps his poll ratings elevated slightly over Mitt Romney's -- for now at least. The idea that Americans, as a body, reject the impositions of government, hate our counterproductive tax system and don't blame Wall Street and George W. Bush for every present ill -- well, such an idea is bosh. Plenty of Americans welcome the impositions of government, wish there were more and can't wait to squeeze the rich like a dirty washrag. These folks are, by and large, Obama's constituency, not Cruz's.

What Cruz offers is line-in-the-sand clarity concerning the ills of the moment. He feeds on fed-upness. Which isn't, in the least, to call him a demagogue -- a stirrer-up of popular emotions for political profit. As I read Cruz -- who I expect to be my senator, the necessary electoral formalities having been observed -- he's plain had it with the corner-cuttings and obfuscations of the political fraternity. Four years ago, we hoped for change. What happened? The kind of change we actually got was merely a speed-up of existing trends toward costlier and more obtrusive government.

As a smasher of idols, Cruz's gift is for the sharp, short, telling blow that reveals the defects and deficiencies of the present product being hawked in Washington. Quite a large number of good people, actually, are similarly exercised about America's present career path. Cruz, as it happens, speaks better and more passionately than most of them. That would include David Dewhurst, a very good man and a very good conservative: just not passionate by nature.

The needs of the hour seem to include passion -- conviction -- verve -- zeal. Of which, Ted Cruz has a large supply. In a way, he's the same pig-in-a-poke that Obama was: scant experience in government and high ratings as an orator. Even Obama had a little more legislative experience. What Cruz has that Obama, if he has it, never has displayed is a sense of the possibilities inherent in human freedom.

Those possibilities electrify a senatorial candidate whose father, a near penniless Cuban immigrant, came to America, dreaming of ... how to put it? Dreaming of more than he had. His son connects with that dream in a way in which the author of "Dreams of My Father" seems oblivious.

Barack Obama may be the most powerful man on earth and Ted Cruz a mere senatorial candidate, but we'll see soon whose language truly speaks to today's Americans.

William Murchison, author and commentator, writes from Dallas. To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.Creators.com.

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Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
 
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