Matt McDaniel

18 minute read

Yesterday, I posted a general overview of Ted Cruz’s bid for the White House. After the speech, cometh the critics. Depending on who you ask, and who is paying for their analysis, Cruz was either the conservative messiah (or at least an Isaiah/John the Baptist “prepare ye the way” type) or the progressive stereotype of what a 21st century Republican is. Could it be that there’s truth somewhere in the middle? Heck no, that doesn’t sell papers (or, I guess, get clicks). But, in reality, Cruz’s campaign is a savvy play to unify the evolved Tea Party and try to overcome a fractured establishment.http://images.politico.com/global/2015/03/23/150323_ted_cruz_ap_629_1160x629.jpgToday, let’s take a look at what Cruz actually said in his announcement and what it means. The following transcript is from the Washington Post with my commentary in [Bolded Bracketed Burgundy].

[Transcript Follows]

http://thefederalist.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Ted-Cruz-Announcement-998x501.jpg

CRUZ: Good to see you.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you so much, President Falwell. God bless Liberty University. [You can probably already predict that God is going to factor in to this a bit. This is meant to 1) increase evangelical “street cred” and 2) contrast with the conservative perception of Obama being opposed to Christianity]

(APPLAUSE)

I am thrilled to join you today at the largest Christian university in the world. [Is it really? I suppose I could Google it… wow. 77,000+ students. Yeah, that’s pretty big.]

(APPLAUSE)[I’m not going to get in to the compulsory attendance thing here, but, yeah, there was compulsory attendance to this speech. Apparently it’s a thing that Liberty does (not just for Cruz). ]

Today I want to talk with you about the promise of America.

Imagine your parents when they were children. Imagine a little girl growing up in Wilmington, Delaware during World War II, [I get where he’s going, but if he’s talking to College students, their parents were not growing up during WWII] the daughter of Irish and Italian Catholic family, working class. Her uncle ran numbers in Wilmington. She grew up with dozens of cousins because her mom was the second youngest of 17 kids [A good Catholic family]. She had a difficult father, a man who drank far too much, and frankly didn’t think that women should be educated. [It’s a nice, humanizing anecdote, but I can imagine the liberal bloggers rushing to compare Ted Cruz to his grandfather]

And yet this young girl, pretty and shy, was driven, was bright, was inquisitive, and she became the first person in her family ever to go to college. In 1956, my mom, Eleanor, graduated from Rice University with a degree in math and became a pioneering computer programmer in the 1950s and 1960s. [That’s pretty cool]

(APPLAUSE)

Imagine a teenage boy, [Is this a Journey song?] not much younger than many of you here today, growing up in Cuba. Jet black hair, skinny as a rail.

(LAUGHTER) [Skinny as a rail is a laugh line? I mean he was growing up in Batista’s Cuba… I’d think this sounds a little more like malnutrition]

Involved in student council, and yet Cuba was not at a peaceful time. The dictator, Batista, was corrupt, he was oppressive. And this teenage boy joins a revolution. He joins a revolution against Batista, he begins fighting with other teenagers to free Cuba from the dictator. [Viva Cruz] This boy at age 17 finds himself thrown in prison, finds himself tortured, beaten.[Again , I get what Cruz is saying, but can you see the progressive commentator making a Gitmo comment here?] And then at age 18, he flees Cuba, he comes to America.

Imagine [Yes, boys and girls, today’s speech is brought to you by the word “Imagine”] for a second the hope that was in his heart as he rode that ferry boat across to Key West, and got on a Greyhound bus to head to Austin, Texas to begin working, washing dishes, making 50 cents an hour, coming to the one land on earth that has welcomed so many millions. [There’s an unanswered immigration status question here, but we’ll gloss over that.]

When my dad came to America in 1957, he could not have imagined what lay in store for him. Imagine a young married couple, living together in the 1970s, neither one of them has a personal relationship with Jesus. [I get it, you’re talking to evangelicals and want their support, but using distinctly Protestant buzzwords is a good way to alienate other members of your potential base] They have a little boy and they are both drinking far too much. They are living a fast life. [Is this code for something or just like a 1950s term?]

When I was three, my father decided to leave my mother and me. [+1 for proper grammar] We were living in Calgary at the time [There are birthers in this campaign too], he got on a plane and he flew back to Texas, and he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore and he didn’t want to be a father to his 3-year-old son. And yet when he was in Houston, a friend, a colleague from the oil and gas business invited him to a Bible study, invited him to Clay Road (ph) Baptist Church, and there my father gave his life to Jesus Christ. [Again, Protestant words, but I get what you’re going for]

(APPLAUSE) [Protestant audience approves]

And God transformed his heart. [Or guilt, but he does the right thing so, that’s a plus] And he drove to the airport, he bough a plane ticket, and he flew back to be with my mother and me.

(APPLAUSE)

There are people who wonder if faith is real. I can tell you, in my family there’s not a second of doubt, because were it not for the transformative love of Jesus Christ, I would [sic- I think this should be wouldn’t] have been saved and I would have been raised by a single mom without my father in the household. [Again, playing to the audience. That’s cool.]

Imagine another little girl living in Africa, in Kenya and Nigeria. That’s a diverse crowd. [And we’re back to “imagine” and I’m thinking of the song which is so terribly juxtaposed with the Christian message Cruz is presenting.]

(LAUGHTER) [Why is diversity funny?]

Playing with kids, they spoke Swahili, she spoke English. Coming back to California. [Good for her being multicultural and stuff]

(APPLAUSE)

Where her parents who had been missionaries in Africa raised her on the Central Coast. She starts a small business when she’s in grade school baking bread. She calls it Heidi’s Bakery. She and her brother compete baking bread. They bake thousands [I thought this was a grade schooler running a lemonade stand, but no, she’s a bread tycoon] of loaves of bread and go to the local apple orchard where they sell the bread to people coming to pick apples. She goes on to a career in business, excelling and rising to the highest pinnacles, and then Heidi becomes my wife and my very best friend in the world. [But how’s her bread company?]

(APPLAUSE)

Heidi becomes an incredible mom to our two precious little girls, Caroline and Catherine, the joys and loves of our life. [They’re really cute kids]

(APPLAUSE)

Imagine [Going to stop pointing it out, but, this isn’t just speechifying, it’s preaching] another teenage boy being raised in Houston, hearing stories from his dad about prison and torture in Cuba, hearing stories about how fragile liberty is, beginning to study the United States Constitution [Ted Cruz is Mr. Constitution and don’t you forget it], learning about the incredible protections we have in this country that protect the God-given liberty [That’s the second time you’ve used liberty in this paragraph, that’s Rand Paul’s word.] of every American. Experiencing challenges at home.

In the 1980s, oil prices crater and his parents business go bankrupt. Heading off to school over a thousand miles away from home, in a place where he knew nobody, where he was alone and scared, and his parents going through bankruptcy meant there was no financial support at home, so at the age of 17, he went to get two jobs to help pay his way through school.

He took over $100,000 in school loans, loans I suspect a lot of ya’ll can relate to, loans that I’ll point out I just paid off a few years ago. [Trying really hard to relate to the audience. Also, people are going to see this as you taking a government handout to get ahead. Also, way to glance over that you went to Harvard. I’m sure a lot of people will take out a lot of loans in order to get the boost in their future that a law degree from Harvard will give them. And why be ashamed of Harvard? I know to some conservatives it looks elitist, but you should play it as the “I worked hard and am a self-made man” sort of deals.]

(APPLAUSE)

These are all of our stories. These are who we are as Americans. [Again, leaving out the Harvard part. And, I know you’re talking to college students, but the ability to go to college, while getting more universal, is definitely not a common memory for all Americans.]

And yet, for so many Americans, the promise of America seems more and more distant. [Now the real speech starts] What is the promise of America? The idea that — the revolutionary idea that this country was founded upon, which is that our rights don’t come from man. They come from God Almighty. [Nature and Nature’s God is different than God Almighty, but, remember the audience.]

(APPLAUSE)

And that the purpose of the Constitution, as Thomas Jefferson put it, is to serve as chains to bind the mischief of government. [Jefferson would not have agreed with the God Almighty line, but yes, the Constitution should restrain mischief.]

(APPLAUSE)

The incredible opportunity of the American dream, what has enabled millions of people from all over the world to come to America with nothing and to achieve anything. And then the American exceptionalism [Hard-right buzzword] that has made this nation a clarion voice for freedom in the world, a shining city on a hill. [Ok, I like America and I know that Cruz is trying to paint the idea that he’d restore American greatness in the era of decline, but is “achieving anything” American exceptionalism or is it “freedom in the world”?]

That’s the promise of America. That is what makes this nation an indispensable nation, a unique nation in the history of the world. [Pretty sure that most nations see themselves this way, but I get where he’s coming from]

And yet, so many [My inner Wikipedia editor wants to put a “citation needed” flag here] fear that that promise is today unattainable. So many fear it is slipping away from our hands. [So is it unobtainable or is it slipping away… it can’t be both]

I want to talk to you this morning about reigniting the promise of America: 240 years ago on this very day, a 38-year-old lawyer named Patrick Henry…

(APPLAUSE)

… stood up just a hundred miles from here in Richmond, Virginia…

(APPLAUSE)

… and said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” [Coincidentally the day Cruz announces his run for the White House]

(APPLAUSE)

I want to ask each of you to imagine, imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison “we demand our liberty.” [Uh… ok Cruz means that this is “vote Cruz,” but it does come off like 1860.]

(APPLAUSE)

Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting. [Way to exclude a whole bunch of people who could also vote for you] They’re staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values. [Equating “born again Christians” with “people of faith” and using the two terms interchangeably is kinda insulting to other religions.]

(APPLAUSE)

Today millions of young people are scared, worried about the future, worried about what the future will hold. Imagine millions of young people coming together and standing together, saying “we will stand for liberty.”[Yeah, they Stand with Rand]

(APPLAUSE)

Think just how different the world would be. Imagine instead of economic stagnation, booming economic growth. [Ok, but instead of imagination, I’d rather a concrete plan of action]

(APPLAUSE)

Instead of small businesses going out of business in record numbers, imagine small businesses growing and prospering. Imagine young people coming out of school with four, five, six job offers. [This is a laugh line. Now, you might think that this is rhetoric, but “imagine” if that many businesses were hurting for workers… they’d definitely be going overseas or going out of business.]

(APPLAUSE)

Imagine innovation thriving on the Internet as government regulators and tax collectors are kept at bay and more and more opportunity is created. [Now, this is a good idea.]

(APPLAUSE)

Imagine America finally becoming energy self-sufficient as millions and millions of high-paying jobs are created. [We’re on the way to this but Cruz would definitely help it]

(APPLAUSE)

Five years ago today, the president signed Obamacare into law.

AUDIENCE: Boo. [Thank you, audience.]

Within hours, Liberty University went to court filing a lawsuit to stop that failed law.

(APPLAUSE) [The lawsuit was thrown out]

Instead of the joblessness, instead of the millions forced into part-time work, instead of the millions who’ve lost their health insurance, lost their doctors, have faced skyrocketing health insurance premiums, imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare. [The current Republican strategy is repeal and replace. Cruz is missing 1/2 of that]

(APPLAUSE)

Imagine health care reform that keeps government out of the way between you and your doctor and that makes health insurance personal and portable and affordable.

(APPLAUSE)

Instead of a tax code that crushes innovation, that imposes burdens on families struggling to make ends met, imagine a simple flat tax… [Tax reform is a good thing. A flat tax has a whole lot of potential problems.]

(APPLAUSE)

… that lets every American fill out his or her taxes on a postcard. [Good rhetoric but does TurboTax do postcards?]

(APPLAUSE)

Imagine abolishing the IRS. [But then who would read the postcards?]

(APPLAUSE)

Instead of the lawlessness and the president’s unconstitutional executive amnesty, imagine a president that finally, finally, finally secures the borders. [So, instead of executive amnesty, I’ll use the powers of the president to secure the borders.]

(APPLAUSE)

And imagine a legal immigration system that welcomes and celebrates those who come to achieve the American dream. [Republicans really need to hammer this message home to compete in growing demographics]

(APPLAUSE)

[Here comes the “box checking” portion of the speech]

Instead of a federal government that wages an assault on our religious liberty, that goes after Hobby Lobby, that goes after the Little Sisters of the Poor, that goes after Liberty University, imagine a federal government that stands for the First Amendment rights of every American. [Religion]

(APPLAUSE)

Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life… [Abortion]

(APPLAUSE)

… and to uphold the sacrament of marriage. [No gay marriage– an issue that will likely be decided, contrary to Cruz’s views, in June by the Supreme Court and not be something President Cruz can change]

(APPLAUSE)

Instead of a government that works to undermine our Second Amendment rights, that seeks to ban our ammunition… [Guns right after gays because this is a laundry list]

(APPLAUSE)

… imagine a federal government that protects the right to keep and bear arms of all law-abiding Americans. [Remember to put imagine in it]

(APPLAUSE)

Instead of a government that seizes your e-mails and your cell phones, imagine a federal government that protected the privacy rights of every American. [This is crucial and shouldn’t just be a throw-away checklist line. This is the biggest overture Cruz makes to libertarians in his speech…]

(APPLAUSE)

Instead of a federal government that seeks to dictate school curriculum through Common Core…

(APPLAUSE)

… imagine repealing every word of Common Core. [Shot across the bow at Jeb Bush]

(APPLAUSE)

Imagine embracing school choice as the civil rights issue of the next generation… [This is a really interesting contention]

(APPLAUSE)

… that every single child, regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of wealth or ZIP Code, every child in America has the right to a quality education. [File this under “something that should definitely be done but will just be a campaign promise”]

(APPLAUSE)

And that’s true from all of the above, whether is public schools, or charter schools, or private schools, or Christian schools, or parochial schools, or home schools, every child.

(APPLAUSE)

Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel. [Well, Obama didn’t boycott the speech, but Cruz isn’t in the mood for nuances. He’s making a statement that a Cruz administration won’t advance the Middle East peace plan envisioned by Obama.]

(APPLAUSE)

Instead of a president who seeks to go to the United Nations to end-run Congress and the American people…

AUDIENCE MEMBER: That’s horrible. [THIS is the issue that got someone to yell out?]

CRUZ: … imagine a president who says “I will honor the Constitution, and under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.” [How are the two related?]

(APPLAUSE)

Imagine a president who says “We will stand up and defeat radical Islamic terrorism…” [Pretty sure Obama would love it if ISIS and al-Qaeda went away, but this is is the hawk portion of the speech]

(APPLAUSE)

“… and we will call it by its name.”

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: That’s right. [“Cuz we don’t like Muslims”]

CRUZ: “We will defend the United States of America.”

(APPLAUSE)

Now, all of these seem difficult, indeed to some they may seem unimaginable, and yet if you look in the history of our country, imagine it’s 1775, and you and I were sitting there in Richmond listening to Patrick Henry say give me liberty or give me death. [President Cruz will fully fund the American Time Travel Initiative]

Imagine it’s 1776 and we were watching the 54 signers of the Declaration of Independence stand together and pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to igniting the promise of America.

Imagine it was 1777 and we were watching General Washington as he lost battle, after battle, after battle in the freezing cold as his soldiers with no shoes were dying, fighting for freedom against the most powerful army in the world. That, too, seemed unimaginable.

Imagine it’s 1933 and we were listening to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt [Really, Cruz cites FDR?] tell America at a time of crushing depression, at a time of a gathering storm abroad, that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Imagine it’s 1979 and you and I were listening to Ronald Reagan. [Time to drop the Gipper card]

(APPLAUSE) [Obviously]

And he was telling us that we would cut the top marginal tax rates from 70 percent all the way down to 28 percent, that we would go from crushing stagnation to booming economic growth, to millions being lifted out of poverty and into prosperity abundance. That the very day that he was sworn in, our hostages who were languishing in Iran would be released. And that within a decade we would win the Cold War and tear the Berlin Wall to the ground.

That would have seemed unimaginable, and yet, with the grace of God, that’s exactly what happened. [So God anointed Reagan. Okay… but you’re making the analogy between Reagan and yourself…]

(APPLAUSE)

From the dawn of this country, at every stage America has enjoyed God’s providential blessing. [Umm… America’s great but America’s also done bad stuff. I guess we shouldn’t bring that up.] Over and over again, when we face impossible odds, the American people rose to the challenge. You know, compared to that, repealing Obamacare and abolishing the IRS ain’t all that tough.

(LAUGHTER)

The power of the American people when we rise up and stand for liberty knows no bounds. [Rand Paul for President]

(APPLAUSE)

If you’re ready to join a grassroots army [Isn’t this the kind of talk that gets someone a nice conversation with the FBI?] across this nation, coming together and standing for liberty, I’m going to ask you to break a rule here today and to take out your cell phones, and to text the word constitution to the number 33733 [Ugh, what staffer thought this was a good idea?]. You can also text imagine. We’re versatile.

Once again, text constitution to 33733. God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn’t done with America yet. [Text me for a blessing?]

(APPLAUSE)

I believe in you. I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to reignite the promise of America, and that is why today I am announcing that I’m running for president of the United States. [Is it believe or imagine?]

(APPLAUSE)

It is a time for truth. It is a time for liberty. It is a time to reclaim the Constitution of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

I am honored to stand with each and every one of you courageous conservatives as we come together to reclaim the promise of America, to reclaim the mandate, the hope and opportunity for our children and our children’s children. We stand together for liberty. [Vote Rand Paul]

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: This is our fight. The answer will not come from Washington. [But put me in Washington] It will come only from the men and women across this country, from men and women, from people of faith, [Atheists don’t have answers] from lovers of liberty, from people who respect the Constitution.

It will only come as it has come at every other time of challenge in this country, when the American people stand together and say we will get back to the principles that have made this country great. We will get back and restore that shining city on a hill that is the United States of America. [Cruz could have done more with rhetoric here. He’s better than copying the Shining City on a Hill line.]

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you and God bless you. [And with your spirit.]