Michael Barone

Americans keep behaving in ways that baffle the liberal mainstream media. Two examples figured prominently -- or should have -- in last week's news.

One is the runoff primary for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Texas. Former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz thumped incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, 57 to 43 percent.

Cruz won even though the Texas Republican establishment, from Gov. Rick Perry on down, endorsed Dewhurst. So did the Austin lobbying community, since Dewhurst as lieutenant governor has run the state Senate for the last 10 years (and, having lost this race, will do so for at least the next two).

Dewhurst has had a generally conservative record and had no problem getting elected and re-elected statewide four times. And he spent liberally from the fortune he made in the private sector.

To be fair, some MSM outlets did run stories on Cruz's rise in the polls since he ran behind Dewhurst by a 45 to 34 percent margin in the May 29 primary. And it's not uncommon for a second-place finisher to overcome the primary winner in a runoff.

But there's a pattern here that the big liberal press has been reluctant to recognize: Candidates from the GOP establishment are getting knocked off by challengers with less name recognition, far less money and the support of the tea party movement. The tea party was supposed to be dead and gone, you know.

There were two such victories in May, when six-term Sen. Richard Lugar was upset by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in Indiana and when state Sen. Deb Fischer beat two well-known contenders for the open seat nomination in Nebraska.

Cruz, who is the odds-on favorite in November, has the credentials and policy positions to be a figure of national importance for many years. At 41, he could represent the second-largest state in the Senate for decades.

And there's a tradition of Texas senators taking the lead in public policy, from the days of Tom Connally and Lyndon Johnson and including John Tower, Lloyd Bentsen and Phil Gramm.

Cruz has a fine legal pedigree. He was a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist and argued nine cases (and won five) in the U.S. Supreme Court representing Texas. As a teenager, he memorized and gave lectures on the Constitution, and on the stump he emphasized the founding document's limits on the power of government.

The big media has assumed that tea partiers are potentially violent despite the lack of evidence of any violent behavior. That's why ABC's Brian Ross mentioned on-air an Aurora, Colo., tea partier with the same name as the movie theater murderer, although it's a common name and Aurora has 325,000 people.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM