Last December I noted the fear I’ve seen voiced among progressives, particularly on Facebook, that Donald Trump was making Ted Cruz acceptable, Is Overton Window wide open for Ted Cruz?:

I noticed this Facebook comment on the page of a local Ithaca liberal Democrat, on a post criticizing Donald Trump:

Donald Trump looks like the warm-up act. Whoever follows him from the Republican party looks reasonable (and sane) by comparison.

The commenter didn’t use the term, but she was describing how Trump has moved The Overton Window. The Overton Window has been described as follows:

The Overton window is a political theory that refers to the range (or window) of policies that the public will accept.

The idea is that any policy falling outside the Overton window is out of step with public opinion and the current political climate, and formulated to try and shift the Overton window in a different direction, or to expand it to be wider.

As Republicans move toward a contested convention, at which Cruz has a strong likelihood of prevailing, I’m noticing more progressive concern.

Heather Digby Parton at Salon writes, Ted Cruz’s terrifying reinvention: How America’s most detestable senator is repackaging himself for November:

On the occasion of longshot presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s campaign launch back in March, The Onion published a satirical piece about subscribers to TIME magazine bracing themselves for the awful, “inevitable” day when they would open their mailboxes to find themselves staring at a picture of Cruz on the cover under a headline like “The Game Changer” or “The Firebrand.” It was an absurd joke that went so meta that this week when TIME actually put Cruz on the cover, they also ran a story about The Onion’s piece from a year ago. Our politics have become very, very surreal.

TIME’s cover story is headlined, “Likable Enough?,” accompanied by a fetching portrait of Cruz with a mischievous look on his face and a lovely ice blue tie. He looks exceedingly likable and once you read the stories within, you’ll have to conclude that the man whom virtually everyone with the misfortune of knowing him finds repulsive is terribly misunderstood. Where you might have thought the man was a doctrinaire rightwinger, steeped in religious fanaticism and radical free market extremism, you will find out that he’s actually a good old boy, a salt of the earth populist….

Ted Cruz is a very smart guy and has been underrated throughout this campaign. But ultra conservative Republicans aren’t voting for him because of his winning personality or “populist” economics. They’re voting for him because he a far right fanatic just like they are. Just because he isn’t Donald Trump it doesn’t mean he isn’t also a demagogue.  He’s just a different kind.

Time Magazine Cover Ted Cruz Likable Enough

Callum Borchers at WaPo worries:

A year ago, when Cruz was just setting out on his presidential run, it was hard to imagine that media coverage would ever depict him as not only a real threat to win the Republican nomination but also as far more genteel and sensible than his top rival. Yet that’s exactly what has happened.

Ed Kilgore at NY Mag is equally indignant that Cruz was not skewered by Time:

There are few words in the political lexicon more frequently misused and abused than populist, particularly in times of strong public hostility toward elites, like the present. Still, Time magazine has truly jumped the shark in publishing an interview with Ted Cruz in which he is encouraged without contradiction to call himself an “economic populist.” If Cruz is an “economic populist,” then the term has truly lost all meaning beyond the pixie dust of rhetorical enchantment….

Get a grip, gabbers and scribblers: Call Ted Cruz a “constitutional conservative,” as he would have it, or the reincarnation of Barry Goldwater, as many of us regard him. But he’s no economic populist.

The thing is, progressives are right to be afraid of Cruz. More afraid than they should be about Trump.

It certainly appears the Trump is moving the Overton Window, so that Cruz looks “normal” in comparison to Trump, as Newt recently put it:

Newt Gingrich on Wednesday marveled at one of Donald Trump’s biggest accomplishments in the 2016 race — making Ted Cruz appear normal.

The former House speaker predicted that Cruz could be boosted at a contested convention by establishment support, something that would be unthinkable without an even more polarizing figure like Trump in the race.

“The challenge is entirely on Trump,” said Gingrich, who has been supportive of Trump. “He is not gonna get any help out of the establishment. They have reluctantly concluded that if, you know — Trump in a funny way has normalized Ted Cruz because without Trump, the establishment would be totally opposed to Cruz.”