Skip to comments.The “Ted Cruz is smart” trap: Why this garbage is false — and dangerous (Preemptive Palin on him?)
Posted on 07/28/2014 10:40:10 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
The Texas senator convinces all of his enemies to praise his intellect. Here's why they're wrong -- and should stop.
Even Ted Cruzs critics seem to concur on one point: whatever else you might say about him, the man is very smart. Mother Jones magazine has called him the thinking mans tea partier. Josh Marshall, in a mostly withering assessment, made the same obligatory concession to his being an incredibly bright guy. Jeffrey Toobins recent, ostensibly critical New Yorker profile of Cruz is full of quotes about his being the smartest guy in the room, his sophisticated constitutional views, and the extraordinary erudition of his senior thesis.
Cruz likely finds all of this very pleasing indeed. In his interview with Toobin, Cruz quotes Sun Tzu, saying that every battle is won before its fought. Its won by choosing the terrain on which it will be fought. In getting those who despise him to genuflect to his intelligence, Ted Cruz has already won one battle. Jeffrey Toobin may lace his piece with dismissive sneers, yet somehow he still contributes to the ever-growing heap of liberal respect for Cruzs mental acuity.
But theres no reason to keep this up. For one thing, it doesnt seem especially true. It cant really be that we think Cruz has a sophisticated mind, given that the only thoughts he produces are angry pants-on-fire platitudinous drivel. Even those who lavish praise on his oratory seem to agree that his heat-to-light ratio nears the infinite, and that thoughtfulness and Ted Cruz cannot exist in the same room. His only memorable quotes appear to be cheap jokes, and the most notable speech of his entire career is not his own, but Dr. Seuss. Nobody who has witnessed a few minutes of Cruzs piece of senatorial performance art would have thought to label him a thinker, were it not for the preexisting consensus that he is one.
Cruz has become notorious for using distortive, misleading rhetoric that no sober-minded individual could apply. Cruz says Obamacares intent is to destroy the private insurance business, despite the fact that the whole progressive complaint about Obamacare is that it is a massive windfall to insurers. He says a campaign finance amendment attempting to rein in spending literally repeals the First Amendment. But even more alarming are the straightforward factual errors. He has mistakenly claimed that most premiums have risen under the Affordable Care Act and that states with gun control have the highest murder rates, among other elementary blunders that earned him a rating on PolitiFact of 10 falsehoods for every one truth.
One may respond that Cruz is shrewd and knows better, that these are calculated political lies by a devious plotter. But for a savant merely playing an imbecile on television, Cruz is strangely inept when it comes to policymaking. He has alienated all of his colleagues, and wants to revive the gay marriage fight at a time when it couldnt be more unwise. His major act of strategic maneuvering over the government shutdown proved a colossal high-profile failure, the result of which was that as his name recognition improves, his favorability ratings actually drop. Even the Wall Street Journal has labeled him part of a kamikaze caucus that is dooming conservatives prospects. If Ted Cruzs misstatements are deft politicking rather than idiocy, then where, one might ask, are the successes?
Ultimately, though, the most damning evidence against Cruzs intelligence may actually come from his law school roommate and college debating partner, David Panton. Teds views today politically are almost identical to when I met him, Panton said. Theres nothing he says today that I didnt hear in college. That assessment, spoken about anybody, should be convincing enough evidence for shallowness of mind. Can there be such thing as a learned person who has discovered nothing new since freshman year?
In fact, the stories about Cruzs younger days show the marks of someone profoundly insecure about his intelligence. Quizzing others as to their SAT scores, wanting to limit his law-school study group to graduates of the H-Y-P schools (a charge Cruz has denied), an unrelenting and discomforting argumentative aggression: Hes missing only a Mensa application to complete the full package of desperate IQ-dork self-affirmations.
Of course, a chorus of people from Cruzs student years has vouched for his brilliance. No less a heavyweight than Alan Dershowitz has commented on Cruzs precocity at Harvard. Now, one could somewhat unkindly argue that Dershowitz, too, has in his career relied on peoples confusion of credentials and bluster for depth of intellect. More to the point, though, is that the evidence put forth doesnt support the claim. Nobody doubts that Cruz has the gift of gab, and can be formidable in an argument. But sophistry is not philosophy, and being the loudest, most driven, and most shameless guy in the room does not necessarily make one the brightest.
Any definition of intelligence is destined to be highly contestable. Yet it is hard to imagine a plausible one that does not include large measures of critical thinking and self-scrutiny. As Bertrand Russell put it, its always a central problem that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. Intelligence necessitates doubt, for doubt is the origin of wisdom. One whose mind is clamped shut cannot be intelligent, and yet Ted Cruz does not in his life ever seem to have taken on board a single challenge to his worldview.
In fact, the consistent overgenerous assessment of Cruzs brains may stem from a deeper problem with the values of the elite legal community. If Newt Gingrich is a stupid persons idea of what a smart person looks like, Ted Cruz is a lawyers idea of what a smart person looks like. Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post puzzled that someone she had been assured has a sharp legal mind could be so blisteringly lacking in common sense. But success in the legal world does not depend on common sense. Ambition and confidence can more than make up for it. Law schools pose as Socratic institutions, where preconceptions are left in tatters on the lecture-room floor, but in practice they reward sparring ability far more than reflection and careful scholarliness (the haphazard, un-peer-reviewed world of law journals can attest to the legal academys prioritization of argumentative formalism over a sober-minded quest for enlightenment). A person with one or two core principles, and a ruthless willingness to bend any truth that gets in the way, can do very well for himself at law school. Certainly, this requires skill. But it would be a sad day for the progress of human knowledge if we called it intelligence.
Cruzs outsize ambition means that this narrative makes a difference. So long as those who oppose him nevertheless dutifully incant praises to his intellect, Cruz has them right where he wants them. Josh Marshall summed up the opinion surrounding Cruz as Arrogant ***hole, Super Smart. But who cares about being called an arrogant ***hole, so long as they admit youre super smart? ***holes finish first, dont they? That kind of consensus makes the haters seem petty and lets Cruz keep playing the scholar. The key is to admit what is obvious from a few minutes of listening to him. The man is arrogant, but he doesnt actually seem very smart.
If the loveliest trick of the devil is to convince you he doesnt exist, the most incontestably brilliant trick of Ted Cruz is to convince you of his incontestable brilliance. Theres no need to keep falling for it.
Nathan’s a piece of work, Vet. He doesn’t think Cruz is smart.
He could have said that in one sentence. He writes like he’s getting paid by the word.
It looks as if Yale grads are envious of Harvard grads!
Which I'm sure he is. What college student already thinks he knows so much that he must write a book? I have a bad feeling we're going to be hearing his name in the future. I wonder if he's part Native American? LOL
Just another young leftist diatribe.
Did Nathan just admit he has ED?
It did sound like he may have decided to bail on law and was thinking of using his degree as a ticket to Weinerville.
Yeah, he could be a Weiner or Wasserman. He’s shrill, verbose, into tautology and ideology, says all the right things (’goodthinkful’), brimming with lefty cant, win at any price zeal, but not in a courtroom apparently.
I’ve never understood why so many, usually Democrats for some reason, get these high dollar Ivy league educations, then they go into politics where you’re qualified when you learn to count.
George Orwell described the perfect Oceana party member in his 1984 book: short, fat, beetle-browed men who scurried about like bugs, always squirming.
He’ll do well in politics.
Nathan looks like he’s about 20 and finally managed to get a girl down to her panties last night before she sobered up and ran away.
The dork is strong in that one!
His first hooker took his money after kicking his ass, and it was his cousin, the family tranny.
Of course, a chorus of people from Cruzs student years has vouched for his brilliance. No less a heavyweight than Alan Dershowitz has commented on Cruzs precocity at Harvard. Now, one could somewhat unkindly argue that Dershowitz, too, has in his career relied on peoples confusion of credentials and bluster for depth of intellect. More to the point, though, is that the evidence put forth doesnt support the claim. Nobody doubts that Cruz has the gift of gab, and can be formidable in an argument. But sophistry is not philosophy, and being the loudest, most driven, and most shameless guy in the room does not necessarily make one the brightest. <<
A nationally renowned legal scholar says Cruz was precocious at Harvard...then the “author” forgot to illustrate why this was untrue. Indeed he gives that Cruz has the gift of gab, and is formidable in an argument. Two very large elements in anyone’s assessment of IQ...except the “author”. The author must have missed the class on logical fallacies, as most of “writing” is not to any journalistic standard I am aware of...oh, it is a Salon Story, can you still get 10,000 shares for a buck?
“and yet Ted Cruz does not in his life ever seem to have taken on board a single challenge to his worldview”
With this comment Nathan Robinson loses all credibility, as well as any chance of appearing to have an intelligence worth mentioning.
Here’s his first article at Huffpo from ‘08. No wonder they love him.
How to Perform a Citizen’s Arrest of A Bush Administration Official
Upon inspection, I would say young Nathan is long on opinion, but short on fact.
Yes, they are called people of conviction and do not fall for the Marxist agenda of the Ivy League schools.
You have to say this in a 1948 movie accent:
“Why Mr Nathan, I’m so confused, Mr Cruz is smart, now he isn’t smart ... I may just have to use my own mind.”
I know a Harvard law grad who is so conceited he wrote not one, but two autobiographies about himself after getting out of law school. Although the rumor is that he may have gotten someone else to write the books for him and then pretended he wrote them.
Cruz Filibustered for how many hours and NEVER ONCE resorted to reading out of the phone book????? And the whole time was engaging and pleasant to listen to...
Yet the “Genius” Obama loses his teleprompter and sound like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omHUsRTYFAU
Did Obama EVER Filibuster in the Senate Chamber when he was a senator from Ill-Noise? Or did he just vote present and go on a Speedo “Man panty” raid at the DC bathhouse?
Ummm no to the book. Nathan must not be doing well in class if he has enough time to write drivel
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.