Of carpet bombing and voting violations. Why Rand Paul’s exit may not benefit Ted Cruz

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Good morning Austin:

Rand Paul bowed out of the presidential race yesterday with a very simple statement.

It’s been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House. Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty.
 
Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy. Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.  
 
Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over. I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term.

Later in the day, the Washington Post’s Kate Zezima posted a story, How Ted Cruz may benefit from Rand Paul dropping out.

HENNIKER, N.H. — For months, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has  tried to poach libertarian-leaning voters here away from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Now, with Paul’s exit from the race, Cruz has even more of an opening to make inroads with supporters of the Kentucky Republican.

I don’t know.

Why not?

Because on Sunday I went to the one and only joint appearance of Rand Paul and his father Ron Paul at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, at which a packed house of some 1,200 mostly young and rabid Paulites lustily booed Rand Paul’s disparaging mentions of Ted Cruz.

They booed Cruz’s failure to show up for a Senate vote to audit the Federal Reserve = Paul’s signature issue – even though Cruz was a co-sponsor. He said he had a campaign commitment and, he said, it wasn’t going to pass anyway. But Marco Rubio showed up to vote for it. As did Bernie Sanders, one of only two non-Republicans to vote for it.

They booed Cruz because, Paul said, Cruz “talks out of both sides of his mouth on the NSA.”

“How about we collect zero  percent of cell hone records?” Paul said.

They booed Paul’s mention of Cruz and Rubio for backing budget-busting military spending.

“Neo-Cons,” came a call from the crowd.

They booed Cruz for wanting to “carpet bomb” ISIS.

“Cruz wants to make the sand glow,” Rand Paul said.

Boo!

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Here was Rand Paul on Meet the Press Sunday.

SEN. RAND PAUL: You know, I think most libertarians, or libertarian-leaning people like myself, we don’t want to make the sand glow, we don’t want to carpet bomb the Middle East, we understand that if you have indiscriminate bombing over there you may create more terrorists than you actually kill. And so I think our voters are consolidating. I think audit the Fed was a defining moment for Ted Cruz, not showing up for that vote is going to hurt him with us losing any Liberty voters to him.

I think also Ted is sort of wanting to have it both ways, particularly on the NSA. You saw his response in the debate to Rubio. Rubio said “Oh you voted for the NSA reform, you voted to weaken the NSA,” and Ted responded with “Oh no no i want the government to collect 100 percent of your cell phone records.” And it’s like, the Liberty voters we cringe when we hear people like Ted Cruz saying they want to collect all of our records, we don’t want the government in the business of collecting our phone records.

Cruz doubled down on his call for carpet bombing in Herkimer, NH., yesterday.

This, even though it seems virtually no one aside from Cruz – left, right or center – thinks this is a good idea.

Here from Zach Carter at the Huffington Post: Ted Cruz Does Not Understand What ‘Carpet Bombing’ Means. But he’s still really into it, whatever it is.

From January 17.

WASHINGTON — Ted Cruz on Sunday stood by his claim that the U.S. should “carpet bomb” the Islamic State group out of existence and falsely stated that the George H.W. Bush administration carpet bombed Iraq during the first Gulf War.
“You wanna know what carpet bombing means?” Cruz said, invoking the first Iraq War in 1991. “We were launching 1100 air attacks a day. We were carpet bombing.” As a result of this bombing campaign, Cruz said, U.S. troops “mopped up the remains of the Iraqi army” with ease.
The United States did not carpet bomb Iraq or Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War. The airstrikes were highly targeted and thus highly effective, as military experts told The New York Times. “Carpet bombing” is not even a term used by the American military. But it is generally understood to be the indiscriminate bombing of large geographic areas without regard for potential civilian casualties.
Cruz has been repeatedly mocked by military leaders, human rights advocates and even fellow conservatives for pledging to “carpet bomb” ISIS. During the GOP debate Thursday, he acknowledged that he would not actually bomb entire cities to take out ISIS members embedded within them, but rather target bombing campaigns against key elements of the ISIS militants. That is essentially the Obama administration’s strategy.
From Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace on Jan. 17.

CRUZ:  We will have a president who will make clear we will utterly destroy ISIS.  We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:  But, Senator, carpet-bombing against ISIS would never work.  ISIS is embedded in civilian populations in major cities.  And if I may, I want to put up this statement here by Bob Scales.  He’s one of the leading U.S. military — former head of the Army War College.

He said, “Carpet bombing, that’s just another one of those phrases that people with no military experience throw around.”

CRUZ:  Well, look, I will apologize to no one, with how vigorous I will be winning the war on terror, defeating radical Islamic terrorism.  We will start by having a president willing to acknowledge our enemy, say it by its name, which President Obama and Hillary Clinton refuse to do.

And you want to know what carpet bombing means?  Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the beginning of Desert Storm.  In 1991, we had roughly 8,000 planes.  Today, we have 4,000.  Our Air Force has dropped in half.  In 1991, we have 529 ships in our Navy.  Today, we have 272.  It’s dropped nearly in half.  

In 1991, we had over a third more soldiers in our army, and we were launching 1,100 air attacks a day.  We were carpet bombing them.  And after 37 days of 1,100 air attacks a day, on troops went in in a day and a half and mopped up the remnants of the Iraqi army because that’s the effect of carpet bombing.

You know what we’re doing now?  We’re doing between 15 and 30 air attacks.  

WALLACE:  There’s a big difference.  First of all, military people will tell you we didn’t carpet bomb in Kuwait, in the Gulf War, that we did precision striking.  In addition, if I may, the Iraqi army was all massed by itself in the Kuwaiti desert.  

We’re now talking about ISIS soldiers who are not massed.  They were embedded in Mosul.  They were embedded in Raqqa with civilians.  

But if I may, sir, let me move on to —

CRUZ:  Hold on.  If you’re going to make a respond, let me respond.  

WALLACE:  OK.  But go ahead.  I would like to ask about some of your votes, though, and not the rhetoric.  

CRUZ:   If you’re going to make a point, let me respond to it.  

WALLACE:  Go ahead, sir.  

CRUZ: Which is, right now, our rules of engagement, what we’re seeing, 15, 20 attacks a day.  It’s photo-op foreign policy.  

So, we’re not taking out the oil fields.  We’re not taking out, for example, we saw a recent report about jihadist university, where they’re training jihadists.  Why isn’t that building rubble?  We’re not using overwhelming air power.

You know, in 1991, we had 2,000 planes there launching this air attack.  We have about 200 right now fighting against ISIS.  

And the difference is we do not have directed concentrated effort, because this president pretends like this enemy doesn’t exist, like these are isolated lone wolves.  He gives the State of the Union that is a state of the denial, where he says, gosh, you know, ISIS is a bunch of guys in pickup trucks.

No, they are a serious terrorist force that has declared war on us.  We can defeat them, but can’t defeat them if the president is unwilling to do so.  And as president, I will defeat ISIS.  I will utterly destroy them, and it takes a commander in chief directing our forces to do that.  

Here from Austin Wright Tuesday at Politico.

The U.S. commander in charge of the military coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria said today carpet bombing the terrorist network would be “inconsistent with our values” – a remark almost certainly aimed at Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who has vowed to “carpet bomb them into oblivion.”

Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland told reporters the United States was “bound by the laws of armed conflict,” after being asked to explain why carpet bombing would not be an effective strategy against the Islamic State.

“We’re the United States of America. We have a set of guiding principles,” he said. “Indiscriminate bombing, where we don’t care if we’re killing innocents or combatants, is just inconsistent with our values.”

He added: “Right now we have the moral high ground, and I think that’s where we need to stay.”

Carpet bombing denotes indiscriminate attacks targeting a large area, leveling the area as if a carpet had been rolled over it. The tactic was widely used during World War II.

In December, Cruz pledged to “utterly destroy ISIS,” as POLITICO reported at the time.

“We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion,” the Texas senator said. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.

Yesterday in Herkimer, Cruz talked animatedly about carpet bombing.

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You know it’s interesting, some of the media folks have been shocked when I called for bombing ISIS into oblivion. The media goes, `Oh, oh, that’s terrible. The object of warfare is not to kill the other guys.’ They say, “What do you mean by this carpet bombing thing? What is this thing?’

Well, it’s like we have planes, and they have a whole bunch of bombs.We’re going to light all of their stuff on fire.

Ted Cruz: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.?

Ted Cruz: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.?

OK. The media simply doesn’t understand the brutal reality of war and gets all weak-kneed when it comes to civilian casualties on a grand scale.

But I think  the media does understand how emotionally satisfying it is for a candidate for president at a time like this to call for carpet bombing ISIS.

Here from Rick Shenkman:Ted Cruz’s Stone-Age Brain and Yours; Why “collateral damage” elicits so little empathy among Americans.

Jan. 11

After Senator Ted Cruz suggested that the United States begin carpet bombing Islamic State (IS) forces in Syria, the reaction was swift. Hillary Clinton mocked candidates who use “bluster and bigotry.” Jeb Bush insisted the idea was “foolish.” Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, tweeted: “You can’t carpet bomb an insurgency out of existence. This is just silly.”

When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer objected that Cruz’s proposal would lead to lots of civilian casualties, the senator retorted somewhat incoherently: “You would carpet bomb where ISIS is—not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed—and you have embedded special forces to direction the air power. But the object isn’t to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.” PolitiFact drily noted that Cruz apparently didn’t understand what the process of carpet (or “saturation”) bombing entails. By definition, it means bombing a wide area regardless of the human cost.

By almost any standard, Cruz’s proposal was laughable, and his rivals and the media called him on it. What happened next? By all rights, after such a mixture of inanity and ruthlessness, not to say bloody-mindedness against civilian populations, his poll numbers should have begun to sag. After all, he’d just flunked the commander-in-chief test and what might have seemed like a test of his humanity as well. In fact, his poll numbers actually crept up. The week before the imbroglio, an ABC opinion poll had registered him at 15 percent nationally. By the following week, he was up to 18 percent, and one poll even had him at a resounding 24 percent.

How to explain this? While many factors can affect a candidate’s polling numbers, one uncomfortable conclusion can’t be overlooked when it comes to reactions to Cruz’s comments: by and large, Americans don’t think or care much about the real-world consequences of the unleashing of American air power or that of our allies.

I think it is fair to say that this political and emotional climate was a critical reason why Rand Paul’s candidacy foundered. He simply could never say what Ted Cruz is saying about carpet bombing. It  is absolutely antithetical to his and his father’s world view.

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From Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason TV, the online platforms of Reason, the libertarian magazine, Ted Cruz’s Laughable Libertarian Pose: Can the candidate win libertarians? Probably not, but he’ll need to if he wants to win in New Hampshire—and November.

Libertarians are not pacifists or isolationists by any stretch of the imagination, but neither are we at one with the war hysterics possessing the folks gunning for the GOP (and Democratic, if you’re Hillary Clinton) nomination.

As a rule, libertarians also support making the borders more open to more people and goods from abroad, while Cruz is arguably even more anti-immigrant than Donald Trump. Trump, after all (PDF), would let the “good” Mexicans back in after deporting them. Meanwhile, Cruz’s flip-flopping on trade-promotion authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership seems far more motivated by politics than principle.

And it seems that Cruz rarely goes a day without palling around with death-to-the-gays evangelicals and insisting that “any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be commander-in-chief of this country.” That sort of thing alienates all the libertarians I know, none more so than the religious ones who especially want to keep government and faith separate (so that politics doesn’t befoul religion).

Ted Cruz with the Duck Ayatollah

Ted Cruz with the Duck Ayatollah

There are, of course, liberty issues, on which Paul and Cruz see eye-to-eye.

In Texas, State Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, Paul’s state chairman, and Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, switched their allegiance to Cruz yesterday.

Vincent Harris of Austin, who, in late 2014, switched from Cruz to Paul, becoming Paul’s chief digital strategist (he created Audit the Ted), told me in an email yesterday:

I admire Senator Cruz, always have, and I know many people at my company have expressed interest in helping him. I am a proud Cruz Crew alumni.
Spending 3 years working for Ted Cruz, I know how great of a conservative leader he is. He is someone who could potentially earn Rand Paul’s libertarian base and unite into his fold his supporters. 

But then there’s this. The official-looking mailer that the Cruz campaign sent to some Iowans in an attempt to shame, prod, intimidate them into voting, and one of the “dirty tricks,” that has led Donald Trump to claim that Cruz stole the Iowa election.

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‘You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.’

Trump’s claim is, per Trump, over the top.

But, especially from a libertarian perspective, the mailer is creepy and objectionable.

Rand Paul described the movement he was trying to lead as the Leave Me Alone Coalition, and the Cruz mailer was Big Brother is watching you and telling you what you need to be doing (and, icing on the cake, apparently based on bogus information.)

When it came to light with the condemnation by the Iowa secretary of state on Saturday night, Cruz told reporters before a rally in Sioux City:

I will apologize to no one for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote. Our country’s in crisis.
That’s kind of like the mindset in Nixon’s 1972 campaign against George McGovern that led to Watergate..
cruzmic
One further note.
At his stop in Goffstown, Cruz said this:

 We had an incredible victory Monday night. It was breathtaking.Everyone in the media said Trump was going to win Monday night.

Sunday I watched the news. I watched every single talking head say there was no way Cruz could win. Trump will win, it was guaranteed.

Monday night was an incredible grassroots victory. It was a victory for courageous conservatives across this country. It was the men and women of Iowa putting the country on notice that the media is not going to choose the next Republican nominee or the next president; that the pundits are not going to choose, that the cartel, the Washington cartel, the lobbyists and the money are not going to choose the next president, that it’s going to be the grassroots, and, what was most encouraging, what we saw in Iowa was we saw the old Reagan coalition coming together, we saw conservatives, and evangelicals and libertarians and Reagan conservatives all coming together.

Fine. A candidate is entitled to his heroic narrative.

Only that part about, Everyone in the media said Trump was going to win Monday night; And, Sunday I watched the news. I watched every single talking head say there was no way Cruz could win. Trump will win, it was guaranteed.

That’s not true.

I watched the Sunday shows. I watched the cable talking heads. And there was no consensus that Trump was going to win. The media consensus was that the outcome would test whether Trump’s celebrity and edge in the polls could prevail over Cruz’s disciplined hard work and far superior organization and ground game.

And Cruz won, fair and square, more or less.

 

 

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