Ted Cruz: The Meme v. The Man

US_Senator_of_Texas_Ted_Cruz_at_Citizens_United_Freedom_Summit_May_2015_by_Michael_Vadon_08Just because you have a backbone doesn’t mean you’re unlikable or unelectable. This meme about Ted Cruz having an unlikable personality goes round and round. How did it start? Is it true?

Without even looking for them, I began to come across comments about Cruz being easy to work with, that he solicited ideas, built consensus, didn’t stand on consequence, cared about people. Here is a collection of what people who have worked with Ted Cruz have to say about who he is.

In December Amanda Carpenter, the former Communications Director in Cruz’s Senate office, wrote Ted Cruz’s “Personality Problem” and explained how this unlikable meme began:

“In Republican circles, it’s not uncommon for people to say while they trust Ted Cruz on the issues, they worry he’s not likeable.

“Donald Trump has even picked up on the fretting and made Cruz’s personality the centerpiece of his critique of the Texas Senator…

“The first attacks started with John McCain’s decision to label Cruz and other conservative rabble rousers “wacko birds” shortly after Cruz arrived in the Capitol…

“It’s not the voters who don’t find him friendly; it’s GOP old bulls such as McCain, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the amnesty-supporting U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street Journal editorial board who find it difficult to get along with Cruz. And lots and lots and lots of lobbyists and consultants connected to those same entities.”

A week later she tweeted.

What do others have to say about Ted Cruz? Here’s a collection of snapshots from those who’ve worked with him day in and day out.

Inside Ted Cruz’s Reaction to 9/11: Prayer and Patriotism by J. Christian Adams (his emphasis is underlined; mine is in bold).

“…After the attacks, Ted Cruz sent several dozen FTC coworkers an email from his government email address. It was not the sort of email that usually is sent in offices inside the Beltway culture. It certainly was not the sort of email normally sent in federal government offices.

“According to multiple people who received the email and spoke with PJ Media, Cruz and his wife Heidi invited coworkers to their Virginia apartment in Pentagon City “to read the Bible, pray and sing patriotic songs.”…

“As one person who worked at the FTC who received the email told PJ Media:

“In a sophisticated and jaded town, Ted and Heidi were putting themselves out there in a place that views that stuff as hokey. That showed a lot of thoughtfulness and courage on their part.”

“…The attendees noted that Cruz’s apartment was in the shadow of the still-burning Pentagon, and his words, and the gathering itself, had special importance to all involved:

He stressed we were going to get out of the valley, that we all have challenges and there is a way through them.”

“Others who worked at the FTC described Cruz’s role back at the office in the days following 9/11. Recall that many FTC employees were victims of the subsequent anthrax scare:

“Ted would walk up and down the halls and check on people to see how they were doing. He would hand out small American flags to employees and was the most proactive of all the senior staff in checking on people’s welfare.””

Cruz was working at the Federal Trade Commission in the early years of the Bush presidency. How did he get along with people there?

The Real Ted Cruz by Theodore A. Gebhard (my emphasis).

“…Contrary to some who have expressed concerns about Ted Cruz’s temperament and qualifications to be an effective president, my experience in working with the Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate during the early 2000s convinces me that he is the right person at the right time for the job.

“…I was able to observe Ted’s professional skills, his personal characteristics, and, significantly, his commitment to constitutionalism, the rule of law, and free-market economics

“In my own experience, I found Ted to be very easy to work with. I never knew him to tout his own résumé, talk down to anyone, or insist on deference to his position. To the contrary, I knew him to be consistently pleasant, generous with his time, and most importantly, always respectful of others’ views and work-product. I remember, for example, that Ted often dropped into my office to follow up on some comment or idea that I had offered during an earlier task force meeting. Those meetings generally permitted only limited discussion because of the number of people present, and Ted wanted to explore my thinking further. Unlike many persons holding titles in government, it never occurred to Ted that, because of his higher position as head of the task force, protocol would demand that I be called into his office. Such ego-driven attachment to hierarchy never mattered to Ted. To the contrary, he was only interested in getting the best ideas out of the people around him. All in all, I cannot recall a single instance when I did not enjoy interacting with Ted professionally. He not only displayed a consistent winning temperament throughout the time we were together, but did so in a way that drew out the highest quality of professional thinking from those with whom he worked and supervised.”

Gebhard has a lot more to say about why he thinks Cruz is the right man to be President, and I wanted to pull these quotes that emphasize what it was like to work with Cruz. Here’s another column on Cruz’s tenure with the FTC.

What No One Seems to Know About Ted Cruz’s Past by Asheesh Agarwal and John Delacourt also looks at Cruz’s time at the FTC. Surprise! He listened to people. He built consensus for conservative policies.

“…Cruz has gained fame as a social conservative and an unwavering opponent of Obamacare. In his first major leadership role, however, he developed economic policy as the director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Policy Planning….

“Cruz promoted economic liberty and fought government efforts to rig the marketplace in favor of special interests…

“Moreover, and perhaps surprising to some, Cruz sought and secured a broad, bipartisan consensus for his agenda. Almost all of Cruz’s initiatives received unanimous support among both Republicans and Democrats.

Ted Cruz a consensus-builder? He was, at the FTC

“As an independent agency, the FTC has five commissioners, and during Cruz’s tenure, two of them had served in President Clinton’s administration. All five commissioners voted to support almost all of Cruz’s proposals.

“Cruz achieved this consensus by listening to policy experts and political opponents. He listened to the FTC’s economic experts and marshaled empirical economic analysis to support his policy objectives. He solicited input from prominent Democrats

“…Cruz is not one to nibble around the edges or bow to entrenched interests, but he does listen to experts and seek support from all quarters.”

On the Texas A&M forum, James Bernsen, who was Communications Director for Ted Cruz’s 2012 Senate campaign, wrote at length about meeting Cruz and working for him. His comment is a great endorsement for Cruz. I want to highlight this paragraph on Cruz’s character.

Some people say he’s aloof, but he hardly is. When my son was born premature and was in the Neonatal Intensive Care in the last month of the campaign, Ted asked about him all the time. I got to know his wife and his daughters on the campaign and he clearly enjoys being a dad. He’s a brainiac and that can sometimes be off-putting for people because he FORCES you to think about issues that frankly, as voters, we sometimes want to ignore or put our heads in the sand about. Ted lives, eats and breathes this stuff, and that level of intensity is threatening to people who frankly would rather use up their precious Americanism watching entertainment on TV than contemplating real, scary existentialist problems our nation faces. Most people who don’t like Ted can’t say they disagree with him. They don’t like him because, to steal a phrase from another presidential candidate Ted likes a lot, “In their heart, they know he’s right.”

Going back full circle to Amanda Carpenter.

“Cruz has been attacked from the left, the right, upside down, and sideways during his short but dynamic years in the Senate. Cruz, knowing full well a single error can be made in a single second, may sometimes come off as too scripted and too tight-lipped. Some even complain that he’s too smooth and too slick.

“These are all signs of intense discipline — a desirous quality for a presidential candidate. Cruz has been virtually gaffe proof despite being vocal on the constant flood of hot-button political issues.”

Amanda Carpenter wrote that when opponents can’t attack Cruz on the issues, they attack his personality. The commentaries I’ve quoted kill the fabricated likability meme, and tell the story of Cruz as a man who listens, who cares, and who works with others in his commitment to the Constitution to build policy that breaks the stranglehold of government intrusion and regulation so that we can direct our own lives within our businesses, our beliefs, and our homes.


“Forget the slander against Ted Cruz from establishment Republicans, the media, and Donald Trump who have their own ulterior motives for declaring Ted Cruz unlikeable; his students at the University of Texas not only liked him immensely, they regarded him as an extraordinary teacher.”

Photograph: US Senator of Texas Ted Cruz at Citizens United Freedom Summit May 2015 by Michael Vadon. CC BY-SA 4.0 The Peace Center Address: 101 W Broad St, Greenville, SC 29601 Phone:(864) 467-3000 http://www.scfreedomsummit.com


2 thoughts on “Ted Cruz: The Meme v. The Man

  1. You’re very welcome. Ted Cruz has been much maligned by those who can’t or won’t fight him on his policies so they attack him personally.

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