Here’s one plausible scenario for Cruz’s prospects in a general election. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:

…[T]he assumption is that Cruz cannot improve his image among the broader electorate, but that’s hard to know for sure, because he’s never had to do it. While opinions on Clinton are deeply entrenched after her decades in the public spotlight, Cruz isn’t as universally known and has more of an opening to get a second look.

Cruz would enter the general election campaign with a reputation as an extremist, which the Clinton campaign would do everything to play up. But the risk of such a strategy comes if Cruz is able to defy such a caricature during the election among voters getting to know him for the first time.

To quote Shakespeare’s Prince Hal: “By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes/And like bright metal on a sullen ground/My reformation, glittering o’er my fault/Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes/Than that which hath no foil to set it off.”

In other words, Cruz is much less of a known commodity to most voters, and he is therefore more likely to be able to improve his image if he can just soften up just a bit.

First, of course, Cruz would have to win the nomination. Here’s a sample from Salon of the sort of thing you’ll almost certainly see from the left if Cruz becomes the GOP nominee. The left will attack any Republican nominee, of course, but there would be different approaches for different people.

One of the main approaches his opponents are likely to take against Cruz would be that he’s hated by all as well as being way to the right of practically everyone on earth. But the Cruz-detesting author of that Salon article also seems worried that Cruz could somehow manage to sustain the pretense of being a normal human being, or some approximation of one, long enough to fool the public into voting for him. That fits in more or less with the idea that all Cruz needs to do is to prove he’s more or less human and some of the attacks could be blunted.

I’ve also noticed, in this Powerline post by Paul Mirengoff, a quote from this NY Times article on Cruz:

The Times says that some big donors are put off by Cruz’s personality. They complain that even in private, he comes of as sanctimonious and unable to present a persona that’s appreciably warmer than what one sees on television.

…It may be a valid insight. But at this juncture, it’s not a good reason to withhold support from the man…

As Mica Mosbacher, a Cruz fund-raiser and wife of the late Robert Mosbacher, Secretary of Commerce under George H.W. Bush, puts it, “[Cruz] might not be the most fun to have a drink at the bar with, but America needs a designated driver.”

Putting aside the fact that it’s Trump who actually doesn’t drink, and that Cruz does, the metaphor is so apt that Cruz himself already made it at a debate last October:

“If you want someone to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy,” he said, when asked to name a weakness. “But if you want someone to drive you home, I will get the job done and I will get you home.”

What is it that people don’t like about Cruz, even those who might agree with many of his political positions? It may be that he never really seems spontaneous (not to mention something about his face). Cruz always appears to be measured and studied and under strict control, which probably decreases his likeability quotient but might be excellent traits to have in a president.

That Times article quoted by Mirengoff also mentions the word “sanctimonious” being applied to Cruz, and that is probably key as well. This is what the word actually means:

1 : hypocritically pious or devout…

2 obsolete : possessing sanctity

So the word “sanctimonious” has, over time, taken on a suggestion of insincerity and even hypocrisy, but originally it merely meant religious or holy. It’s actually not clear whether those being quoted in the Times article as having said it about Cruz meant that they found him overly religious in a sincere way or hypocritical about his religiosity. It seems that criticisms of Cruz and his religiosity often take the form of such contradictory pleadings.

Would Cruz’s personality hold him back from working well with other people in government were he to win an election? Hard to say, but we haven’t heard about a lot of turmoil among those who are working for him during this campaign. That’s not just true lately, now that he’s doing better, but it seems to have been true even earlier in the game, when he was low in the polls. And even the Times article says that he’s well-liked by people in Texas who know him:

He is regarded warmly among Republicans in his home state, Texas, where he has deeper personal relations with a wider portion of the donor class…

When Mr. Cruz appeared recently on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the late-night host took note of his patience in winning new friends.

“What you did is, you kind of held out until they found someone that they liked less than you,” Mr. Kimmel said.

“There you go,” Mr. Cruz replied. “Listen, it is a powerful strategy.”

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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