Getting to know the real Ted Cruz, an account from his close friend Jay Nordlinger

Ted Cruz meets voters at a campaign event
Ted Cruz meets voters at a campaign event

There was a three-part series in National Review which I found just fascinating, and a good antidote to the hit pieces you see from the Republican establishment, which they attack Cruz for “likability”. As regular readers of National Review know, Jay Nordlinger is more of an establishment type. But he backed Cruz from the beginning in the GOP primary, because he has known Cruz personally for a long time.

Here are the three parts:

From part 1:

I met Ted Cruz on the presidential campaign of George W. Bush in 2000. I had taken a leave of absence from NR to assist that campaign. This was in mid-September, for the last six or seven weeks of the campaign. […]Ted was a domestic-policy advisor on the campaign.

We bonded, as they say. We had many a late-night discussion at Earl Campbell’s barbecue joint and other choice spots.

On judges:

Ted had a fancy education. He went to Princeton University, where he was a debate champion, and to Harvard Law School, where he was an editor on several publications, including the Law Review.

But I noticed something on the campaign — the campaign in 2000: He had a scrappy, outsider’s heart.

More on his background: He clerked for Judge Mike Luttig, on the Fourth Circuit. In fact, Ted made me aware of Luttig, and I came to admire this judge almost as much as Ted did. Then Ted clerked for the chief justice of the United States: William Rehnquist.

In fact, I think Ted learned to play tennis just to play with the chief. I’ll have to check with Ted on that.

An additional note on Mike Luttig: When a Supreme Court seat came open in 2005, Ted pushed for Luttig’s nomination. So did I, in my capacity as an opinion journalist (not that I had great pull). When John Roberts got the nod, we supported this nomination, of course, as all conservatives did. But our heart was with Luttig.

I back Edith Hollan Jones and Janice Rogers Brown for Supreme Court picks, but J. Michael Luttig is on my list, further down.

On school choice:

Tell you a story. Ted was, and is, an impassioned advocate of school choice. He thinks it’s shocking — immoral — that poor kids are trapped in hopeless, violent schools. One day, he was telling me about lawyers in the opposite camp: the camp of the education establishment. (For once, I think the word “establishment” is appropriate. Or Bill Bennett’s word: “Blob.”)

“You could practically smell the sulfur coming off them,” said Ted.

I don’t have permission to tell that story. But what the hell. It’s done. (Ted can sue me!)

Promoting school choice is the civil rights issue of our time. We have to get the money out of the government, and back into the hands of parents, so that they are free to choose schools that serve their children, instead of indoctrinating their children. We need kids who can get private sector jobs, not recite global warming dogma and put condoms on cucumbers.

On the free enterprise system:

Ted was exceptionally versatile. He knew a lot about the law, of course. And about domestic policy, of course. He was a domestic-policy adviser. He had Medicare Part B and all that jazz down pat. I am still a little hazy about these things, never being able to get through a white paper. Even the abstract …

He knew a lot about economics, and was a big free-marketeer. When he was in high school, he took part in something called the Free Enterprise Institute. They read Hayek, Friedman, Bastiat, everything. Ted imbibed. And saw the reason of.

He knew a lot about foreign policy, and was a hawk. Also, he was a “social conservative.” That term is weak, but it will have to do. Ted opposed abortion, for example — and knew why.

This is important: Ted was amazingly free of cynicism. What do I mean by that? I mean, he reallybelieved in America, free enterprise, and all that rah-rah stuff. Other people feel the need to roll their eyes a bit. Not Ted.

Here’s something from part two, now:

Ted worked at the Justice Department and at the Federal Trade Commission. Then he was solicitor general of Texas (under the attorney general, Greg Abbott, who would become governor). Frankly, I didn’t know that states had solicitors general until Ted became one.

I blogged before about Ted’s experience pushing for free-market policies at the Federal Trade Commission, and for gun rights and religious liberty as Solicitor General of Texas. Everywhere he has gone, he has pushed conservative positions. If you were hiring a candidate and went strictly off of resume, this would be the guy you would hire. Trump would not get an interview – he has no resume.

Cruz’s record in the Senate:

Ted has a wider libertarian streak than I do. (Bill Buckley: “Within every conservative is a streak of libertarianism.”) Also, he has less patience for the “establishment” than I do. But, you know? He was the one who got elected, and you know what else? He kept his promises to the voters.

Some may not have liked those promises. But, by golly, he kept them. Which is refreshing in a politician.

And he did not sit around. Oh, no. He did not mark time. A senator observed, “Ted has done more in a couple of years here than some of our colleagues have done in decades.”

Cruz got a lot of legislation passed, more than Rubio.

And from the third part:

Obviously, the Cruz style is not for everyone. But I can say this, to conservatives (and to anyone else, for that matter): If he is president, he will do everything humanly possible to repeal Obamacare. And to prevent Iran from going nuclear. And to do other hard, vital things. I don’t know if these things can be done. But I feel sure that, if they can, Ted will do them. He will go the last mile, and beyond.

Like everyone else, he likes popularity more than unpopularity. But if popularity clashes with the right course of action, popularity will have to go. Ted is used to opposition and scorn. And he would do anything — walk through fire, chew on glass — to keep this country free.

You can read more about Cruz’s achievements in this post.

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