The New York Times, grudgingly acknowledging that Ted Cruz’s “brand of conservatism is the product of decades of careful study and manifest intellectual firepower,” stated what every true conservative knows: Cruz is not only more conservative than Ronald Reagan; he would be the most conservative in more than 50 years, even more conservative than Barry Goldwater.
The Times notes that Cruz is farther to the right on immigration than Reagan; staunchly pro-life, to the point of protecting the unborn in cases of rape and incest, anti-same-sex marriage, having called for a federal amendment permitting states to avoid performing or recognizing those marriages, a return-to the- gold-standard champion, and a man who wants to abolish the IRS.
The Times notes Cruz’s prescience, pointing out that Cruz “anticipated the rightward tilt of the Republican Party of today, grasping its conservatism even as colleagues dismissed him as a fringe figure.”
Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review, who studied at Princeton University with Cruz, praised Cruz thus: “Nobody has been more assiduous than Cruz at staying on the same page as the conservative base of the Republican Party. That said, it was also the man meeting the moment. He was always a constitutionalist conservative, and then constitutionalism became cool among conservatives.”
Cruz gave speeches propounding the theories of Friedrich A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises as a teenager, and quoted James Madison in his senior thesis at Princeton, “You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
The Times notes that Cruz has quoted Reagan on the Cold War: “We win, they lose,” and Margaret Thatcher on socialism: “The problem with socialism is, eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
Cruz, a protégé of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia, does remind some of Jefferson Smith, the fictional hero of Frank Capra’s classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. As Peter Feaver, a national security strategist under George W. Bush and a political-science professor at Duke University, asserted, “There’s a little bit of ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The ‘I’m going to pursue this even if everyone else is mad at me because this is right.’”
Cruz’s strength of character was evidenced by his principled stand against ethanol subsidies before the Iowa caucuses, which he eventually won. Ponnuru mentioned the similarity to Mr. Goldwater’s risk-taking in 1964, when he told Tennesseeans that the Tennessee Valley Authority should be sold.
Robert P. George, told the Times he was impressed by “the consistency from the time when he was a student to now,” remarking that conservatives often cite Madison and Tocqueville, but “Ted has actually read them.” He once gave a paper back to Cruz with a C+ on the first page, causing Cruz to get upset. Cruz wrote of the incident, “With white knuckles, I folded the corner over and on the front was written, ‘Just kidding! A.’”
George had an amusing answer for why he would tease Cruz: “I thought he should at least have a few moments’ experience of not being the smartest guy in the class.”