Americans care deeply – right now, as we swing into the dense fog of presidential primaries – about two issues: the economy and national security. In his short time in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has made clear his vision of a strong economy – smaller government, lower taxes, reduced debt, keeping American jobs in America for Americans. But what of national security? On review of his professional past, Cruz is the standout on national security. Pause and consider.
Conservatives, moderates and “blue collar Democrats” understand that this moment in American history – on national security – is pivotal. Senator Cruz has not come lately to his views – namely protecting American borders, rebuilding the American military, engaging adversaries diplomatically before reflexive or preemptive intervention, and standing with all allies (including Israel) without flinching. The Center for Security Policy gave him a 100 percent rating, while the Fleet Reserve Association, which represents men and women in uniform – also gave him a 100 percent rating.
More to the point, Cruz has been unreserved in commitment to decisively defeat – not contain –the Islamic State. While Clinton cannot say the words “Islamic terrorist,” Cruz has repeatedly spoken to ending the evil. Ironically, while the media ignores Donald Trump’s inability to understand the nation’s nuclear triad, they have jumped to critique the Senator’s method for focusing attention on Islamic State. When he used the phrase “carpet bomb” – an obvious attempt to draw contrast with President Obama’s minimal ordinance, what Webster’s defines as “bombing either repeatedly or widely” – he was suddenly too confrontational, not careful enough with words. This in a primary season featuring words never before used in national politics!
Second, go to what national security turns on: judgment. That means patience and resolve under unexpected questioning and pressure, constancy in responding as well as deterring conflict. Here is where Americans should expect the former U.S. Supreme Court counselor and litigator to stand out. He has been in the arena, exercising proactive and reactive judgment all his life. Cruz is not the average political candidate, or even an average presidential candidate. That he is a seasoned Senator – one not to be bought and sold – is important. But more important, he is a nationally recognized top appellate attorney. To get there, he has patiently prepared, methodically researched, systematically positioned, and effectively argued top cases before the Supreme Court. Top of the game.
Make him a good national security president? Yes. Like Eisenhower and Reagan, he would be judicious, which in turn means thoughtful and circumspect, resolved but on sound ground. He is capable of thinking ahead, thinking around corners, good with game theory and strategic thinking. What have we been missing? Just that. Cruz knows how to out-think, out-maneuver, and rightly re-order people like Putin and Chinese adventurists. Here is the kicker: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and organized non- state adversaries, from foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) to drug trafficking cartels, all know it. They suspect Cruz is the seasoned, strategic thinker –implementer of tough policies. They know he would draw the right lines at the right times, and hold them. Why do you think Putin is mum on Cruz, but praises Trump? Think about it.
Fourth, think about having a Supreme Court litigator as president. He would be clear: America is back. Long ago, I clerked for a U.S. Court of Appeals Court judge, a Reagan appointee. I saw the best litigators – one level below the Supreme Court. They are all fighters, cordial, polite, not drawn into petty insults or lowered to ad hominem attacks. They are smart, defending the Constitution’s true meaning, embracing the “good fight.”
St. Paul spoke “the good fight,” and we know what that means. It is a religious allusion to keeping faith through worst of times, serving a cause larger than ourselves, no matter cost or pain, difficulty or persecution. That is the sort of resolve you find in some constitutional litigators, dedicated to what is larger – not themselves. Cruz is a strategic. Note: Trump never saw him coming in Iowa. Putin would fear America’s strategic president – and then respect us.
Fifth, consider how presidents set expectations and consequences on the big stage. Words matched by deeds. Language is a weapon. Cruz knows it, has lived it. Reagan knew it and lived it too. Words have meaning. Forget the sledge hammer; choose a swordsman’s blade, the rifle shot. That is how Cruz has long litigated – not for attention, but targeted effect. Lightning fast, but sincere, clear and resolved. That will serve our national security very well.
Final point: The Soviets respected America’s judgement and resolve – in part because of Ronald Reagan’s firm character. In time, they came to fear his uncanny foresight. But they saw in him American consistency. Truth spoken and courage, the unbreakable marriage of words and deeds. Cruz may not be king of earned media or master of bombast, but he is self-assured, well-grounded, not easily knocked off course or given to fly off the handle. He has clear worldview. Not effusive, he is a cheerful warrior of the reserved type.
Unafraid to be politically incorrect, he is a defender of the right to speak freely, live fully, and love our country openly. On the merits, he has top skills needed for our national security. Time to stop cheering slap-happy politics, and start thinking like we mean it – and voting that way.