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“Say It Ain’t Ted, Wisconsin”: The Badger State Should Know Better Than To Go For The Texas Senator

I am taking Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary personally. That’s the progressive state with the capital P, the home of the Progressive Party founded by the LaFollettes about a century ago. Sen. Bob LaFollette is considered one of the very best senators in history. Scenic blue Madison is the city where the university anti-Vietnam War movement caught on fire and tear gas.

An irony that gives no pleasure: the Republican candidate favored to win, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, reminds people of Wisconsin’s own shameful demagogue. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who went on witch hunts for Communists at home, was a national disgrace. His tear was not stopped before he wrecked hundreds of lives – maybe more.

The radical demonization of others is what Cruz and McCarthy share in common. In one campaign debate, Cruz insulted the island of Manhattan for its views on reproductive rights. The Texan even looks like McCarthy, I’ve heard people say. Yes, there is a resemblance. Is Wisconsin going to vote for Cruz, for old times sake?

Please say it’s not so.

Here’s one more irony. The Republican party elders and regulars are so adamantly against mogul Donald Trump winning the nomination that they are openly willing to settle for Cruz, the most hostile antagonist to other Republican senators. He’s a freshman, about as rude as Trump, without a drop of the milk of human kindness. He has very few friends in the Senate, making a practice of insulting senior senators, both Republican and Democratic. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has no idea what to do with him. Most senators like to be liked and put up a good front.

The Republican establishment and the arch-conservative Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, are egging on the only Republican in Trump’s league for arrogance. It’s rare to have a politician who loves to be hated. Cruz thrives on it. If he becomes the nominee, it will be hard to have the party rally round him.

In a normal political season, the governor of Ohio would be elected Republican party darling. Gov. John Kasich comes across as an experienced and reasonable candidate. He speaks well, inflected with Midwestern earnestness. Beware. His political rise took place in Speaker Newt Gingrich’s House. And he is no moderate friend to women’s rights and health. He is scary on that score.

The truth is, I feel about Trump what Winston Churchill declared about democracy as a system of government: that he’s a deeply flawed contender, but better than all the others. Better than Cruz and shallow Sen. Marco Rubio. Better than the prince of privilege, Jeb Bush. Better than the self-serving, acid Gov. Chris Christie. Better than the clueless Dr. Ben Carson.

Let me explain. Trump’s the only candidate to speak out strongly against the ill-fated Iraq War, which shattered our well-being as a nation. He told Bob Woodward of The Washington Post that our presidents could have “gone to the beach” and the Middle East would be in better shape. Thank you, that’s true. The Middle East with the Islamic State group is a hot mess, thanks to us.

The brash New Yorker gets no credit for that forceful fresh analysis, because the media always sees Trump in black and white. First, he was a clownish figure in a freak show. Now he’s a danger to all the liberties we hold dear. National security experts, many of whom beat the drum for war in Iraq, wrote a letter stating that Trump is a threat to national security. What does that make them?

On the issue of choice, Trump was clearly chastened by outrage at a careless remark about women getting “punished” for exercising their constitutional right to privacy in personal medical matters. He learned from this mistake. Very soon after, he became the only Republican to admit the laws on legal abortion are clear and set since 1973. He said the law should stay as is. Unlike the rigid Cruz, Kasich, Rubio and the rest, Trump gets Planned Parenthood as a women’s health organization. No small thing.

As for accusations of misogyny, I’ll be the judge of that. Too many male pundits toss that word out there like a pitch on Opening Day. Many don’t grasp it’s a heavy, ancient Greek word that should be saved for the real thing.

Wisconsin is America’s dairyland, but much more than that. Madison, the state capital, was a paradise to me, set by the shore of Lake Mendota. The country will be watching Wisconsin closely Tuesday night for clues to our state of mind, nobody more than me.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, April 4, 2016

April 5, 2016 - Posted by | Donald Trump, Progressives, Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Primary | , , , , , , ,

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