The Quick and the Dumb

Posted in: Featured, Politics and People | By: | February 01, 2013

If there were ever a hall of fame for crazy, it ought to be in Texas. We’ve had David Koresh and rapist and murderer Kenneth McDuff and tower sniper Charles Whitman and federal judge assassin Charles Harrelson and baby killer nurse Genene Jones and serial murderer Henry Lee Lucas. But we also cultivate and elect a certain kind of crazy.

Our latest poster boy of stupid is Republican Senator Ted Cruz. He was on his first nationally broadcast senate hearing over the nomination of a fellow Republican Senator as defense secretary. Chuck Hagel was an infantry sergeant in Vietnam and did a 12-month tour in the jungle during the year of the Tet Offensive in 1968. He served in the same squadron as his brother and they both reportedly saved each other’s lives. Maybe because he witnessed U.S. military excesses in Vietnam, Hagel has expressed restraint on the use of such power.

Which made him a target for Crazy Cruz of Texas.

During his confirmation hearings, Hagel had to look at a sign Cruz had up for reporters to see that said in 2006 the Nebraska senator called Israel’s military campaign against the terrorist group Hezbollah a “sickening slaughter.” He did. Sort of.

Next generation of the chicken hawk

“How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend, the country and people of Lebanon, is going to enhance America’s image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?” Hagel asked on the Senate floor. “The sickening slaughter on both sides must end, and it must end now.”

Of course, Crazy Cruz cut off Hagel before he could offer the context. It’s as politically vile of a tactic as Washington has to offer. Hagel appears to have angered Cruz for not universally praising Israel, questioning the invasion of Iraq, and the effectiveness of the sanctions against Iran. (He, unfortunately, kissed the ring of Israel in his testimony, which is a defense secretary litmus test.) Cruz has never served in the military but he projects an effete anger that suggests he’d happily vote to send young versions of Chuck Hagel into combat while the Texas girly-man stood safely on America’s shores and beat the war drums.

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Crazy counts as a positive attribute right now here in Texas. Cruz has the highest net approval rating of any politician in the state and is comfortably ahead of Governor Rick Perry, the senior U.S. Senator from Texas John Cornyn (R), and, of course, President Obama.

These new numbers from Public Policy Polling (PPP) do show some hope for emerging strains of sanity under the Lone Star, however. Indications are that Hillary Clinton could win the presidential race here in 2016. Fifty percent of Texas voters have favorable opinions of the retiring Secretary of State, including independents that view her with a 52% positive against a 41% negative perspective. And Mrs. Clinton leads prospective GOP presidential contenders in a Texas contest with margins over Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and, more comfortably, Rick Perry. The governor’s own party doesn’t want him to run for president, in fact. Seventy percent think it’s a bad idea and only 19% think he should lace up his ignorance and again get in the race.

The time you won your town the race

Perry’s not the least popular man in Texas, though. The yellow jersey for that goes to Lance Armstrong. The former golden boy from Austin has only a 16% favorable in the PPP poll and a 59% negative.

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A quick thought about the gun guys and gals, too. They marshal an argument that everyone has a right to protection, which, of course, is as sound as their logic ever gets. But they insist that if the president gets to have armed guards to keep him and his family safe, the general public has a right to be armed and protected. U.S. taxpayers spend an estimated $1.4 billion a year to wrap the nation’s president in a cocoon. The costs include Secret Service, Air Force One, various advance teams, FBI, military, and any other service required to keep the president from harm.

No coyote is safe

But Texas taxpayers have spent $2.4 million on security for Governor Rick Perry since he started wandering the landscape in 2010, trying to talk all president-y. He took a $140,000 security detail with him to Italy to talk “bidness,” visit the Ferrari plant, and watch a Formula One Race. And unlike Mr. Obama, Perry carries his own damned gun: a laser-sighted, 9mm, coyote-killing luger pistol. Does he really need a couple of million in tax money spent to keep him safe when he’s packing his own heat?

Seems a likely place for Perry to make a budget cut.

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