Ted Cruz's irrational crusades
© Greg Nash

By all accounts, presidential candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz Eye-popping number of Dems: I can beat Trump 'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate MORE is a smart guy. His first year criminal law professor at Harvard, Alan Dershowitz, said "Cruz was off-the-charts brilliant."

However, brilliance does not always translate into rationality and, as we approach the first Republican debate, this is a concern for the candidacy of Sen. Cruz (R-Texas). In fact, non-rationality is a prominent topic these days. So much so, that the anti-rational persona is the title of Woody Allen's newly released film "Irrational Man."


Cruz is currently running sixth in the polls at 6.2 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics average. With the recent "fire in the hole" episode on the floor of the Senate, one needs to look at his crossing of the line within his own Republican Party, and also his affront to the culture and decorum of the Senate.

On Friday, July 24, in a Senate speech, he managed to offend the very domicile in which he practices his craft. Cruz said: "We know now that when the majority leader looks us in the eyes and makes an explicit commitment, that he is willing to say things that he knows are false."

Make no mistake, young Sen. Cruz, age 44, called Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran On The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act MORE (R-Ky.), age 73, a liar. This action, in our esteemed U.S. Senate, is considered unconscionable.

Senate president pro tem, the well-respected Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump gambles in push for drug import proposal Biden's role in Anita Hill hearings defended by witness not allowed to testify 'Congress' worst tax idea ever'? Hardly. MORE (R-Utah) responded to this attack by saying: "Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated in other venues — or perhaps on the campaign trail — but they have no place among colleagues in the United States Senate."

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Romney: Trump 'has distanced himself from some of the best qualities of the human character' MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) said: "I would never contemplate going to the floor of the Senate and impugning the integrity of another senator. Just not something we do here. I really think it was a very wrong thing to do."

Cruz is not new to controversy, but his lack of reverence for his own party members may finally be the last straw. He was elected to serve in Washington by the people of Texas, and began his new career as a freshman senator in 2013. Nine months later, he stood on the floor of the Senate for 21-straight hours, attempting to quasi-filibuster and defund ObamaCare. This singular event raised his profile, but also set the stage for the fiscal shoot-out on Capitol Hill, and created the ensuing chaos that ultimately caused the government to shut down from Oct. 1 to Oct. 16, 2013. Most Americans simply hate this kind of political maneuvering.

Perhaps the shutdown was all the more painful, simply because it reminded everyone of the drama that surrounded the financial crash in 2008. Cruz, however, was unrepentant about what he did. Even as the issue was about to get resolved, he told CNN: "Unfortunately, once again, it appears the Washington establishment is refusing to listen to the American people."

The big problem with Cruz's statement about listening is that he fails to define who the American people are, and limits his definition only to the people who follow his line of thinking. Plus, the story doesn't end there, as Cruz is now suggesting that he might use the same tactic again this over funding for Planned Parenthood. Did we not learn anything when this happened in 2013? You simply can't use the shutdown strategy as a pawn and try to force your ideology on the entire country each and every time there is an issue that you don't agree with. Using this method as an ongoing strategy will cause our government to become totally dysfunctional. Sure, it's great to be passionate about an issue, and certainly Cruz represents a constituency that strongly follows his line of thinking, but why does he continue to utilize defunding of government as a tactic? This process is attention getting for Cruz, but is it good for America and is it rational?

Cruz is well-known for his somewhat random and negative views on climate change and also his non-approval of gay marriage. He likes to tie the sanctity of marriage to religion, believing that same-sex marriage is a threat to religious liberty, and he ties his climate change theories to the concept that the data do not support "what advocates are arguing."

However, America is a country of diverse opinion. Our differing thought processes collectively help to make our country great. Unfortunately, Cruz's irrational theories, coupled with the havoc he has already created for the Republican Party, and his blatant disregard for the legacy and decorum of the Senate, have potentially cleared a path that will crash his political career, in spite of his sixth place standing in the current polls.

With the first Republican presidential debate approaching, it will be curious to see how this experienced and intelligent debater will perform. Cruz is renowned as a champion debater and was recognized for his shills at both Princeton and Harvard.

However, even experienced debaters can err.

In 2013, during his 21-hour tirade from the floor of the Senate, he read from Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham. Cruz was framing the analogy comparing the theme of "not liking" green eggs and ham to ObamaCare. (Democrats would say of the program: just try it, just try it).

Do you like
green eggs and ham?
I do not like them ...
I do not like green eggs and ham.

As Cruz carefully read on, the story actually turned suddenly and, perhaps, surprised the experienced debater as it concluded with:

If you let me be,
I will try them.
You will see.

I like green eggs and ham!
I do! I like them ...
And I would eat them in a boat!
And I would eat them with a goat ...

I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!

Helfenbein is a political pundit and strong advocate for a robust U.S. trade agenda. He lectures frequently on the subjects of supply chain and international trade. Follow him on Twitter @rhelfen.