[Ed. – Don’t hold back, Mr. Cooke. Tell us how you really feel.]
I watched Cruz make his pitch. Republicans, Cruz argued, should “unabashedly” be the “party of growth.” Moreover, he added, they should commit to a bold agenda that, inter alia, included the root and branch repeal of Obamacare; a flat rejection of new gun-control measures; a healthy skepticism toward any immigration bill that was sponsored by Chuck Schumer; a steadfast opposition to tax increases; the insistence that the legislature was as important as the executive branch; and the presumption that the “47” percent of voters who do not pay income taxes are not a liability to be dismissed but are future conservative voters. With these positions I agreed — and wholeheartedly.
And yet, I hated every single moment of the address. Why? Well, because for all his obvious talent Cruz’s rhetorical style frankly makes my hair curl a little. Striking a pose that lands somewhere between the oleaginousness of a Joel Osteen and the self-assuredness of a midwestern vacuum-cleaner salesman, Cruz delivers his speeches as might a mass-market motivational speaker in an Atlantic City Convention Center. The country, he tells his audiences rather obsequiously, will be saved by “people like you” — people, that is, who are willing to text the word “Constitution” to the number 33733, and to contribute generously to his political action committee. America, meanwhile, is held to be in grave trouble, and it needs to be rescued, NOW. There is potential everywhere, Cruz notes; if only we could tap into it — if only we would believe. …
[B]ubbling below the surface — and occasionally rising above it — there were all the usual attributes of the typical Cruz sermon: the quasi-religious fervor; the Lennonite appeals to “imagine” a better future; the Manichean intensity that can sometimes cross from the pulpit to the podium; and, from time to time, that slight awkwardness that comes with the presumption that, deep down, every line deserves to be an applause line.