Waiting for Ted Cruz

“You’ve got to make concessions; you’ve got to compromise,” said Wolf Blitzer in that solicitous MSM salon of salons named like muscle-bound Mike of “Jersey Shore,” “The Situation Room.” He was lecturing the brand-new senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, on the same day Cruz was sworn in to the Senate. Telling him how to act. Welcoming him into the big leagues. “If you’re just going to come into Washington and say, ‘Do it my way or the highway,’ you’re not going to get anywhere.”

I tend to notice beginnings and leave before the movie ends, and this brought to mind another beginning that stayed in place as a historic marker. It was when Ronald Reagan was first elected to the presidency and was about to make his first appearance to speak before Congress. Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, an Irishman of Boston old-school swagger, greeted him at the podium and said, “Welcome to the big leagues.”

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I’m from that neighborhood myself and saw it as presumptuous. It seemed clear to everyone else by then that the old neighborhood had just been transgressed. That Reagan was not “one of us” and would not conduct business as usual; it was the end of all that. That it could even be said that a cultural revolution was at hand and Tip’s Southie charm would no longer bring in the vote as a singular, dependable expression of the horde for any Democrat. Nor would the urban Jews of New York, the second-generation Italians in South Philly and all of the European-Americans of the resent great migration to America any longer do as they were told. For the first time now they would ignore the ward heelers and vote American; vote for who they thought was best, and for the first time in our history they would vote collectively for a Republican. And so would the South which had voted with them Democrat since the Civil War. Now a new era was upon us and four years later it would become a sea change when 49 states reelected Reagan. That is what came to my mind when Wolf Blitzer had the audacity to lecture Ted Cruz on his first official day in office.

The change Cruz brings to the Senate is similar because in the end, Cruz, like Reagan, came to power following demographics. And the American story being told now and in the future is that America is heading west and there it will find its future awakenings. And I would add to that story that America favors those — like Cruz and Sarah Palin who offered her support to him — who take the initiative to head west. Ours is a new America and far from Tip’s, but not that far today from Ronald Reagan’s.

Cruz opens a new theater of engagement with the formidable gifts of leadership he brings to Washington. He comes with a sword and with it he will carve up the entrenched interests. And if he does so successfully, if he is the effective anti-Obama and wars well against the bipartisan Eastern Establishment and its concession makers and compromisers and salons and nerd proms and situation rooms and Wolf Blitzers, he will swing that sword again in 2016.