Of Duck Dynasty and the Golden Goose. In us vs. them, Ted Cruz is both

"He looks like the Goldman Sachs man." Joe Scarborough

“He looks like the Goldman Sachs man.” Joe Scarborough

Good morning Austin:

In what Rachel Maddow- Rachel Maddow! – described as the best political ad of the 2016 campaign, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson endorsed Ted Cruz yesterday.

 

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It is a great ad.

“Ted Cruz is my man, I’m voting for him,” says Robertson.

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From WND:

Cruz reportedly had dinner with the Robertson family on Sunday and joined Robertson duck hunting on Monday. The endorsement was reportedly agreed upon in a duck blind.

Robertson weaved the duck hunt into his endorsement.

“My qualifications for president of the United States are rather narrow: Is he or she godly, does he or she love us, can he or she do the job, and finally, would they kill a duck and put him in a pot and make him a good duck gumbo?” he said in a video posted Wednesday.

“I’ve looked at the candidates. Ted Cruz is my man. He fits the bill,” Robertson said. “He’s godly, he loves us, he’s the man for the job and he will go duck hunting … because today we’re going.”

“Ted Cruz is my man, I’m voting for him.”

But here’s the kicker from Robertson:

You’re one of us, my man.

One of us. That’s what it’s all about.

Red v.  Blue America.

Fox v. MSNBC.

Roe v. Wade.

Obergefell v. Hodges

Quinoa v. Cheesy Grits.

And who better embodies Red Fox America than Phil Robertson.

From Drew Magary’s December 2013 profile of Robertson in GQ:

Phil calls himself a Bible-thumper, and holy shit, he thumps that Bible hard enough to ring the bell at a county-fair test of strength. If you watch Duck Dynasty, you can hear plenty of it in the nondenominational supper-table prayer the family recites at the end of every episode, and in the show’s no-cussing, no-blaspheming tone. But there are more things Phil would like to say—”controversial” things, as he puts it to me—that don’t make the cut. (This March, for instance, he told the Christian-oriented Sports Spectrum magazine that he didn’t approve of A&E editing out “in Jesus” from a family prayer scene, even though A&E says that the phrase has been uttered in at least seventeen episodes.)

Out here in these woods, without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants. Maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality, and there’s no stopping them from rushing out. Like this one:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

And:

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, I tell you what: These doggone white people—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

And:

Well, in Robertson’s worldview, America was a country founded upon Christian values (Thou shalt not kill, etc.), and he believes that the gradual removal of Christian symbolism from public spaces has diluted those founding principles. (He and Si take turns going on about why the Ten Commandments ought to be displayed outside courthouses.) He sees the popularity of Duck Dynasty as a small corrective to all that we have lost.

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

And:

Okay, so perhaps it’s not exactly shocking that a deeply religious 67-year-old hunter from rural Louisiana would have, shall we say, enthusiastic ideas about what constitutes good Christian morality. That’s the unspoken red-state appeal of Duck Dynasty. They’re godly folk. “Real” folk. It helps explain why people flock to Monroe in droves to visit the Duck Commander store (which, shockingly, does not sell firearms). It’s why Willie Robertson can walk out of work on a regular Thursday afternoon and be greeted by a cheering crowd that seemingly stretches back to the horizon.

OK. So, the question really is, in the age of Trump, why Phil Robertson is endorsing a candidate for president instead of running for president?

(Phil Robertson at Cruz-Trump September 9 Capitol rally against the Iran nuclear deal)

But as much as Phil Robertson loves and identifies with Ted Cruz, would he put his money where his mouth is? Let’s say Ted Cruz had turned to him in the duck blind and said, “Phil, the future of America is on the line. Can I borrow a million bucks?” What would he say?

Who knows? What we do know, thanks to a New York Times story today – Ted Cruz Didn’t Disclose Loan From Goldman Sachs for His First Senate Campaign – is that when Cruz asked Goldman Sachs for that loan in 2012, they said yes.

As Ted Cruz tells it, the story of how he financed his upstart campaign for the United States Senate four years ago is an endearing example of loyalty and shared sacrifice between a married couple.

“Sweetheart, I’d like us to liquidate our entire net worth, liquid net worth, and put it into the campaign,” he says he told his wife, Heidi, who readily agreed.

But the couple’s decision to pump more than $1 million into Mr. Cruz’s successful Tea Party-darling Senate bid in Texas was made easier by a large loan from Goldman Sachs, where Mrs. Cruz works. That loan was not disclosed in campaign finance reports

Those reports show that in the critical weeks before the May 2012 Republican primary, Mr. Cruz — currently a leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination — put “personal funds” totaling $960,000 into his Senate campaign. Two months later, shortly before a scheduled runoff election, he added more, bringing the total to $1.2 million — “which is all we had saved,” as Mr. Cruz described it in an interview with The New York Times several years ago.

A review of personal financial disclosures that Mr. Cruz filed later with the Senate does not find a liquidation of assets that would have accounted for all the money he spent on his campaign. What it does show, however, is that in the first half of 2012, Ted and Heidi Cruz obtained the low-interest loan from Goldman Sachs, as well as another one from Citibank. The loans totaled as much as $750,000 and eventually increased to a maximum of $1 million before being paid down later that year. There is no explanation of their purpose.

Goldman Sachs? Citibank?

Hmmm. OK. Very good.

But to boil this down to its essence, this is kind of like getting a loan from The Great Satan in order to do battle with The Great Satan – El Diablo – which is either diabolical, or diabolically clever.

A day earlier, Cruz was attacking Donald Trump for his New York values.

From Talking Points Memo:

In audio flagged by BuzzFeed, Cruz was asked by conservative radio host Howie Carr about the real estate magnate playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” at rallies—a clear knock on Cruz’s Canadian birth. Cruz responded that Trump will probably start playing Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”

“Well, look, I think he may shift in his new rallies to play ‘New York, New York’ because Donald comes from New York and he embodies New York values,” Cruz said.

The senator did not elaborate on exactly what “New York values” Trump embodies, but the line suggested Trump was out of step with the Republican base

From CNN:

Cruz also appeared on “The Kelly File” on Fox News on Tuesday night, and when asked about his “New York” remarks, he repeated that his campaign’s success has “really rattled Donald” and cracked, “The rest of the country knows what New York values are.”

I don’t know. This sounds vaguely familiar to me. As a native New Yorker, do we really want to go there? Actually, I’m from Long Island – Roosevelt, Long Island, hometown of Eddie Murphy.

The New York line was a bad move by Cruz. Perfect setup for Trump, who responded in an obviously heartfelt way about New York and 9/11.

You wanna knock New York, you gotta go through me.

Joe Scarborough, criticizing the Cruz line, on Morning Joe this morning:

Would you like to talk about Goldman Sachs values? Do you want to talk about Harvard values, Princeton values, lawyer values?

And, in any case, it’s really hard to make New York, New York a loser anthem. I mean, the whole point is, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

Also, just as Cruz borrowed money from Goldman Sachs, he has raised big money for his presidential campaign in NYC.

 From Mike Allen at Politico:

In June, Ted Cruz promised on NPR that opposition to gay marriage would be “front and center” in his 2016 campaign.

In July, he said the Supreme Court’s decision allowing same-sex marriage was the “very definition of tyranny” and urged states to ignore the ruling.

 But in December, behind closed doors at a big-dollar Manhattan fundraiser, the quickly ascending presidential candidate assured a Republican gay-rights supporter that a Cruz administration would not make fighting same-sex marriage a top priority.

In a recording provided to POLITICO, Cruz answers a flat “No” when asked whether fighting gay marriage is a “top-three priority,” an answer that pleased his socially moderate hosts but could surprise some of his evangelical backers.

While Cruz’s private comments to a more moderate GOP audience do not contradict what the Republican Texas senator has said elsewhere, they demonstrate an adeptness at nuance in tone and emphasis that befits his Ivy League background. Indeed, the wording looks jarring when compared with the conservative, evangelical rhetoric he serves at his rallies, which have ballooned in size and excitement as he has moved to the front of the pack in Iowa.

And this is the nub of it. That adeptness at nuance in tone and emphasis, is sheer, pure, essence of Obama. With Obama, it has been called code-switching – the practice of shifting the languages you use or the way you express yourself in your conversations.
In politics, it is a gift.
And, as a an evangelical at Princeton and Harvard, Ted Cruz learned to code switch in a place where he was even more a minority than Barack Obama.
In 1999, I visited Harvard and wrote a story about how its vaunted appreciation of diversity did not extend to evangelical Christians:
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – If the Ivy League had a mantra, it would be diversity. For 20 years it has sustained rhetorical and legal efforts to increase the representation of blacks and Hispanics at America’s most prestigious institutions of higher education.

But hidden in plain sight in Harvard Yard, and at elite campuses across the country, is a dilemma of diversity that may test that mantra in complex and confounding ways: the overrepresentation of Asian and Jewish students and the underrepresentation of the white, non-Jewish majority, especially such white ethnics as Italian-Americans and religious groups as Southern Baptists and other evangelicals.

 It is a touchy subject, largely unexplored and undebated, if it is noticed at all. But with America’s Asian population growing, and the admissions decisions of the nation’s most selective universities ever more in the cross hairs of lawsuits and public debate, it won’t go away.

Right now at America’s most elite school, Harvard, an estimated 20 percent of undergraduate students are Jewish, and almost the same percentage are Asian. Together, Jews, only 2 percent of the U.S. population, and Asians, only 3 percent, comprise nearly 40 percent of Harvard College enrollment. That is about the same as the percentage of Harvard students who are non-Jewish whites, a group that makes up more than 70 percent of the U.S. population.

That means that Christian whites are far more underrepresented at Harvard, relative to their numbers in the general population, than even blacks and Hispanics. Of course not all white Christians are underrepresented. The old white elite _ Episcopalians, for example _ are bearing up well, abetted a bit by the admissions preference for children of alumni. But it appears that groups like Italian-Americans and Southern Baptists do not fare so well.

I also looked at an evangelical Christians’ unfortunate experience when he ran for president of the Harvard Undergraduate Council:

Chris King, a sophomore from Winter Park, Fla., is an evangelical Christian, though he resents being put in some Jerry Falwell box that presumes because of his faith he is a political conservative.

But King believes that is what happened to him when he ran, and narrowly lost, a race for president of the Harvard Undergraduate Council in December. King ran his campaign on the unusual  – for campus politics – and faintly spiritual terrain of  “community-building,” “shared vision” and “values-driven leadership.”

“In my private life I was a Christian and that was part of who I was,” says King, who belongs to a Harvard prayer group called Christian Impact. But King says he assembled a very diverse campaign – people of every race, faith and even no faith – and did not inject his religion into the race.

But then Megan White, a member of the student government election commission, wrote a fateful e-mail to fellow members of the thriving Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship. In the e-mail, White noted that she had to remain neutral in the election, but went on to ask for prayers for King and his running mate, Fentrice Driskell. “Please pray for their protection from Satan’s tactics,” White wrote, adding, “I know that God’s hand is directing them to run.” She signed the e-mail, “In Jesus’ grip, Megan.”

“Evangelicals have a real talent for alienating people,” says Andy Crouch, the Christian Fellowship chaplain, noting that language that would seem perfectly normal to someone in the fellowship, or from a part of the country where evangelicals are in abundance, can sound strange and scary to the uninitiated. In this case, he was certainly right.

White may actually be an Episcopalian from Greenwich, Conn. – hardly an oddity at Harvard – and she may have felt she was doing nothing but asking friends to be thinking about other friends, but her talk of Satan probably cost King the election.

The e-mail became the subject of a Harvard Crimson story, and ultimately the Crimson did not endorse King’s ticket, noting that “their ties to religious groups have raised concerns among students.”

Oppenheim says that while his own politics are conservative, “I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the Crimson has a secular, fairly left-wing editorial staff that wouldn’t want a Christian fundamentalist student government leader.”

But King felt prejudged and condemned. “This could have never happened in the South. I don’t think it would have happened to a person of any faith,” says King, who was shaken by the experience.

“I was nailed to the cross,” says King. “And most of the editorial staff that was so hard on me, the vast majority were Jewish.”

“I don’t really believe this is a healthy place,” he says of Harvard.

A former executive editor of The Crimson, Molly Hennessy-Fiske – she is Irish working class on her mother’s side and Mayflower ruling class on her father’s – says she knows firsthand how little tolerance many Harvard students have for the language of faith. Hennessy-Fiske, who is a Catholic from upstate New York, says that when she told some fellow students last year that she had been “praying about” whether to nominate someone for a position at The Crimson, they all “burst out laughing.”

But Cruz adjusted.

From a Jason Zengerle GQ profile of Cruz in October 2013.

It’s hard for Ted Cruz to be humble. Part of the challenge stems from his résumé, which the Texas senator wears like a sandwich board. There’s the Princeton class ring that’s always on his right hand and the crimson gown that, as a graduate of Harvard Law School, he donned when called upon to give a commencement speech earlier this year. (Cruz’s fellow Harvard Law alums Barack Obama and Mitt Romney typically perform their graduation duties in whatever robes they’re given.)
Princeton turned out to be as alien to Cruz as Austin had been to his father some thirty years earlier: “I did not know anybody there; I didn’t know anybody who had gone there.” Like his father, he needed to earn tuition money. Unlike his father, he didn’t do it by washing dishes. He got a job with the Princeton Review, teaching test-prep classes.
The elite academic circles that Cruz was now traveling in began to rub off. As a law student at Harvard, he refused to study with anyone who hadn’t been an undergrad at Harvard, Princeton, or Yale. Says Damon Watson, one of Cruz’s law-school roommates: “He said he didn’t want anybody from ’minor Ivies’ like Penn or Brown.”
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Ted Cruz, Goldfield, Iowa.

 

I asked Cruz on his campaign bus last week about being evangelical at Princeton and Harvard.

There’s no doubt that evangelical Christians are almost non-existent on the faculties of at major universities. There are 90 million evangelical Christians in America and zero on the United States Supreme Court. That is one manifestation of how elite opinion and opinion makers are grossly unrepresentative of the actual American people and the political left, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in many ways look down on much of this country.

They view – well that was captured in one candid moment in 2008 when Barack Obama was at a fundraiser in San Francisco and he described how a significant percentage of America as bitter and angry and clinging to their God and their guns. Now that is an arrogant and condescending view of what used to be called America’s heartland. And I have joked before, we’re not bitter, but we are angry and he can’t have either our God or our guns.

 

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