The race for the GOP nomination for US Senator from Texas took an odd turn recently. Ted Cruz, the former Solicitor General of Texas, is running for this seat against various opponents, including Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who is widely considered to be the frontrunner at this time.
At events in Tyler and Sugarland, Texas, Cruz referred to the New York–based Council on Foreign Relations as “a pernicious nest of snakes” that is acting to undermine US sovereignty, as shown in an article (with video) by Ben Smith in Politico.
While such anti-CFR rhetoric is not uncommon among more fringe elements of the right, particularly in Alex Jones country, this isn’t really the sort of thing one expects to hear from a polished candidate like Cruz. He is a partner at the white-shoe law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, and his wife (as is pointed out in the Politico article) was a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations until earlier this year. This incident caused Paul Burka, senior executive editor at Texas Monthly, to ask:
Why Cruz has aligned himself with the loonies in this race is beyond me. With all the serious problems the country is facing, why would he choose to focus on the Council of Foreign Relations? No one in politics has even thought about the CFR since the Cold War ended, except, apparently, people in Tyler and Sugarland and Mrs. Cruz.
I’m completely speculating here, but I suspect the reason why Cruz is taking this position is because he’s been facing criticism from elements of the Republican Party here in Texas because of his wife’s past membership in the CFR and by extension his linkage to it.
This criticism has largely been under the radar, but it is the sort of thing one sees mentioned about Cruz in online articles about him (often in the comments sections) and I’m guessing that is a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Cruz’s campaign.
I’m not suggesting Ted Cruz is being insincere in his criticism of the Council on Foreign Relations. It is not uncommon for people who see an organization from the inside or near-inside to become critics of that organization, based on what they saw and heard up close and personal. But it’s also likely that he is criticizing the CFR because he feels like he has to, in order to distance himself from an organization that isn’t necessarily popular among the Tea Party constituency that he is courting in his run for the US Senate. Necessity is the mother of more than just invention.