Just when I thought I might never get to write another column with an optimistic outlook for conservatism, along comes Senator Ted Cruz. Did any of you see his questioning of the doddering and possibly traitorous Chuck Hagel? If not, go find the video. Folks, this is the way it’s done. This is what conservatism must look like going forward. I hope and pray that Ted Cruz becomes a Presidential nominee and leads the Republican Party because we desperately need his type of leadership.
In the confirmation hearing of Hagel, Cruz first thanks him for his service to our nation. There is no doubt in my mind that Cruz is sincere in his thanks. However, instantly after that, Cruz gets down to business. And I do mean business. He reminds Hagel that the committee requested a sampling of speeches Hagel had given. Hagel sent the text versions of four speeches. Cruz reminds him that he received honoraria for twelve speeches in the past twelve months! (Who is paying this guy to speak? Can I have their number?) Then Senator Cruz respectfully but effectively scolds Hagel for the inadequacy of the speeches he provided the committee.
After asking him to deliver financial records that were requested by the committee (which Hagel ignored) Cruz asks about controversial statements Hagel made about US participation in international criminal court. Hagel flip flopped on his earlier positions and claimed he was not in favor of such participation. But perhaps the most effective line of questioning came after a video clip Cruz played of a 2009 interview that Hagel did with Al Jazeera. No credible Secretary of Defense nominee would do such an interview.
Sen. Cruz pointed out a statement by a caller to the show. The caller suggested that Israel had committed war crimes. During his response to the question, Hagel did nothing to refute the caller’s accusation nor did he make any attempt to defend Israel.
“Do you think the nation of Israel has committed war crimes?” Cruz asked.
“No I do not, senator. I’d want to look at the full context of the interview, but to answer your question, no,” Hagel said.
Next, Cruz played another clip from the same program, where the host read a reader e-mail suggesting that the United States has served as the world’s bully. Again, Hagel did nothing to defend the U.S. I loved Cruz’s comment:
“Do you think it’s appropriate for the chief civilian leader of the U.S. military forces to agree with the statement that both the perception and the reality is that the United States is the world’s bully?” Cruz asked Hagel.
“I think my comment was it’s a relevant and good observation,” Hagel said. “I don’t think I said that I agree with it.”
Cruz corrected Hagel and stated that he did in fact agree with the statement on the tape. This is just a small sampling. The video is worth your time. The larger point is, while many other Senators used their time in the Kerry and Hagel confirmation hearings to grandstand, or to make a mini speech of their own, Cruz used his ten minutes with utmost efficiency. He accomplished something with his questioning. He learned about the nominee, he educated the public on the radicalism of that nominee, and he was extremely effective without ever raising his voice. Senator Cruz came across as authoritative and knowledgeable.
In case you don’t know Cruz’s backstory, he is the former Solicitor General of Texas, he has been a Supreme Court Clerk, and a Princeton Debate Champion. Cruz understands conservatism from his family’s own experiences. His mother worked her way through Rice University and earned a mathematics degree. His father fought in the revolution in Cuba, migrated to the US penniless and washed dishes for fifty cents an hour while he earned a degree from the University of Texas. He started a successful small business and is now a Pastor.
Senator Cruz recently appeared on “Meet the Press” with Chuck Schumer and did a spectacular job of defending conservative values in a somewhat hostile environment. He had statistics to support his answers at the ready without so much as glancing at notes.
In the arena of ideas conservatism wins every time. Our nation’s problem has been that so few leaders A) understand conservatism or B) can articulate it without falling back on clichés or dead end arguments. Senator Ted Cruz does both in spades. Conservatives everywhere should keep a close eye on this man.
Chris Skates is the author of the novel, Going Green: For Some It Has Nothing To Do With The Environment, which is available in the Patriot Bookstore. He has been published in dozens of national magazines and has authored multiple technical articles in his field of Chemistry. You can follow his blog at www.chrisskates.com