By Will Giles.
Released earlier this year, the Disney-produced movie adaptation of the classic radio and television series, The Lone Ranger, flopped at the box office, only grossing $260 million, far short of the estimated $375 million production budget. The Lone Ranger chronicles the crime-fighting adventures of the masked John Reid (“the Lone Ranger”) and his Native American sidekick, Tonto, in the Wild West. Reid hails from the great State of Texas, my home State, represented in the Senate by none other than Ted Cruz, who began his term the same year as the release of the film.
Senator Cruz likes to fashion himself as “the Lone Ranger” in the Wild West of the Senate, fighting liberals and their most dastardly criminal scheme yet, Obamacare, with his dual-wielded six-shooters, loaded with oratory and intellect. Even his terminology is an ode to the Wild West, oftentimes describing Obamacare as a “trainwreck” from which he hopes to save the American people strapped to its rails.
The trail leading to the donning of “the mask” was not an easy one for Cruz or his family. His father emigrated from Cuba to the United States with little money and no English, eventually attending the University of Texas and finding work in the oil fields of Alberta, Canada, where Ted was born.
Despite these humble beginnings, Cruz graduated cum laude from Princeton University and attained his law degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard. A recent article from The Boston Globe reveals that Cruz embraced his role as “the Lone Ranger” even during college, parrying with his liberal classmates and professors, who had to grudgingly admit that he was utterly brilliant.
In 1996, after graduation, Cruz became a clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the first Hispanic to clerk for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Thus began his trajectory towards a highly successful political career. He served as a domestic policy advisor to President-elect Bush before being appointed to positions in the Justice Department and the United States Trade Commission. He was then appointed the Solicitor General of Texas, eventually appearing before the Supreme Court nine times. If that were not impressive enough, he then turned more heads, including mine as a native Texan, by forcing popular Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst into a runoff and then defeating him in the Republican Primary nomination for retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Senate seat. Cruz followed this performance with a landslide victory over Democrat Paul Sadler in the general election.
The Senate allows Cruz to fully embrace his lone ranger persona. Cruz proved that he would go to any length to battle the nefariousness of Obamacare, which meant allowing the government to shut down on October 1, 2013. On September 24, Cruz reinforced the ‘lone’ aspect of his moniker by filibustering on the Senate floor for over 21 hours, the fourth longest filibuster in Senate history. He even read from Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. Goaded, or perhaps emboldened, by Cruz’s entreaties, the House of Representatives decided not to pass a bill to fund the government without a clause that delayed the implementation of Obamacare for another year.
The House finally acquiesced on October 16 as public opinion turned against Republican obstructionism. As the face of the fight against Obamacare, Texas’ newest lone ranger was placed in the crosshairs of critics from both parties. While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called him a “laughing stock,” most of the flak came from Republicans: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Cruz’s shutdown strategy ‘not a smart play’ with ‘no chance of success,’ while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Cruz’s mission a ‘fool’s errand.’ Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) offered more pointed criticism, calling Cruz either a ‘fraud’ or ‘totally incompetent.’”
To his Republican critics, Cruz is more like Tonto than Ranger Reid. Tonto, which means “foolish” in Spanish, is the sidekick to the real rangers: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). His critics would argue that Cruz overstepped his duties as sidekick, causing great harm in the crusade to defund Obamacare. To his Democratic detractors, the foolish sobriquet perfectly fits his personality and actions. Cruz brazenly insinuated that Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel may have received donations from America’s enemies, and he joined Rand Paul’s filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination over the CIA’s drone program. The reading of Green Eggs and Ham and Cruz’s numerous attempts to derail Obamacare solidified their preconceived notions.
To his supporters, however, Cruz is the Lone Ranger reincarnate. After the government shutdown crisis was resolved, he was met with massive crowds at his rallies throughout Texas. Former Sen. Jim DeMint, now director at the conservative Heritage Foundation, has seen a surge of donations riding on the coattails of Cruz. There is also the possibility that Cruz is preparing his horse, Silver, to run in the Republican Primary derby in 2016 and ride into the White House.
The Lone Ranger was an unmitigated disaster in early 2013, and time can only tell whether or not the political theatrics of Ted “the Lone Ranger” Cruz will suffer the same fate. Will “the Lone Ranger” exclaim, “”Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!” as he rides his trusted steed to the White House, or will “ke-mo sah-bee” fade into the sunset?