January 29, 2016
Every four years, the American political process brings voters face to face with the best and the worst behavior of those running for president. It’s no different this time around, but the stakes are higher.
I have been unfavorably impressed by the recent last-ditch, efforts of Governor Huckabee and Senator Santorum to secure a most unlikely victory in the presidential contest, principally through questionable attacks on Senator Ted Cruz. I have known Senator Santorum and many of his close friends for years, since they attended the parish I worked at years ago in Great Falls, Virginia. I have met with Senator Santorum privately and I have publicly supported his work on several occasions. I am also close friends with many of Governor Huckabee’s former supporters, and in 2008 I even supported his failed presidential campaign. Santorum has also led us down this path before in his failed presidential campaign of 2012.
I have also had the privilege of meeting Senator Cruz. I have followed his work, attended some of his speaking engagements, and read his autobiography, A Time for Truth.
Senator Santorum and Governor Huckabee openly profess to be Christians of the right kind, namely those who seriously attempt to live what they preach. It is this that compels me to clarify their recent attacks on Senator Ted Cruz. Their public attacks, attempts to gain some traction in fading campaigns, must seem to most, like throwing a Hail Mary pass with a deflated football. Perhaps a fraternal correction may be of some benefit.
Being a gentleman matters a great deal if you are seeking to gain the trust and votes of the American public. Yet, Senator Santorum has attempted to plant the idea in voters’ minds that Senator Cruz is not a social conservative. This is simply dishonest and creates the impression that Santorum is someone who cannot accept defeat with grace.
Santorum has stated that Ted Cruz is “… not a strong social conservative...” he has used other people’s quotes in interviews to call Senator Cruz the “… Trojan horse of social conservatism.” But worse, he has attributed dishonesty to Senator Cruz whom he claims is, “… not the social conservative he is portraying himself to be.” Santorum disingenuously attempts to muddy the waters on the issues of life and marriage, both of which were defended quite energetically by Senator Cruz−even before he ran for President or was a senator.
Matt Beynon, Santorum’s spokesperson, has claimed that Ted Cruz has betrayed his promises to organizations like the National Organization for Marriage, regarding the defense of marriage in our nation. This is most ironic since the National Organization for Marriage has publicly endorsed Ted Cruz, not Santorum or Huckabee.
To imply even remotely that Senator Cruz is not serious about life is disingenuous. I have been in the senator’s office on many occasions, at times with over 40 pro-life leaders, working on the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood. The senator has arranged many times for pro-life leaders to testify in Congress on the issue of religious freedom, life, and the sanctity of marriage. These attacks on Senator Cruz by Santorum and Huckabee in truth say more about their failure to be honest, than any real risk that Senator Cruz is soft on these issues. It would be odd that leaders such as Dr. Dobson from the Family Research Council would endorse Ted Cruz if he were not solid on life and marriage.
One thing I can state emphatically and with complete serenity is that Senator Cruz is the one sure bet in this race regarding the protection of life and the affirmation of marriage. Huckabee and Santorum do a disservice to conservatives by so vehemently and falsely attacking the one viable conservative in this race.
Huckabee has opened a second fallacious line of attack, which also deserves a response, namely that Ted Cruz is a lawyer and therefore not a leader. The logical fallacy is easily seen. It does not follow from the premise that because someone practiced law he will therefore be a bad leader. This incorrect syllogism, designed to confound voters, is only magnified in its irony by the fact that both Huckabee and Santorum repeatedly try to portray themselves as new Abraham Lincolns. I say it is most ironic, as Abraham Lincoln became a lawyer in Illinois and carried on a law practice for nearly 25 years before becoming president. It is ironic as well, because Santorum is also a lawyer−and a lobbyist to boot. So is Marco Rubio.
Huckabee has asked, “ What has Sen. Ted Cruz done in his life that prepares him to be the President of the United States?” Governor Huckabee has a bachelor’s in religion and then went to seminary. I studied theology and philosophy much longer than Governor Huckabee and I would never have the gall to say that Ted Cruz, who paid his own way through Princeton and Harvard, thoroughly learned constitutional law, argued before the Supreme Court on nine occasions, served as solicitor general of Texas, and has spent his entire career defending the Constitution, is not qualified.
I beg to differ with Governor Huckabee. Senator Cruz was also the first Hispanic to clerk for a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist. He was associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department. Cruz has authored 70 United States Supreme Court briefs. His record appearances before the Supreme Court are more than any member of Congress or any lawyer in Texas. Understanding the nature of our current constitutional crisis helps one see the need for a great legal mind needed to unravel the abusive dictates of the Obama regime.
Huckabee in his desperate attempts to rescue his campaign from imminent defeat in Iowa, fails to think about the greater good of the United States and makes yet another shortsighted claim, “… I don’t think America needs a good lawyer right now…” I have been making exactly the opposite claim. Obama and his minions have been usurping the rule of law, obfuscating the Constitution and abusing power illegally for nearly eight years. The legal system has become the weapon of the radical left; through it the radicals in our nation have inflicted procedural violence on America for eight long years. What is at the heart of their efforts to transform America is the battle for the heart and soul of the Constitution. I submit that we are in a constitutional crisis of major proportions and therefore a legal mind that understands the heart of our founding documents is not only qualified but may be arguably most qualified to serve as President.
In order to regain America, we must go back to the foundational idea of America, and for this we may indeed need another great legal mind that understands the fight−precisely because it has been trained for this duty. It is hard to imagine Huckabee reading thousands of pages of Obamacare legislation and pinpointing its most destructive unintended consequences, interpreting complicated international treaties, or taking clear positions on the major issues of constitutional law which now face our nation. A president who does not understand the constitutional issues at the root of our present crisis will likely become completely dependent on the opinions of small lawyers trying to manipulate him on the great Constitutional issues of our time.
Abraham Lincoln’s Model
In the 19th century, during a time of unjust Supreme Court decisions and another constitutional crisis, America chose a great legal mind to steer America through the turbulent waters of his time, President Abraham Lincoln.
Today, the First Amendment guaranteeing religious freedom, the Second Amendment protecting our right to bear arms, and the Tenth Amendment dealing with the rightful sovereignty of states are in imminent jeopardy. It is shocking that Huckabee can make the false claim that a legal mind like Cruz has no qualifications to be President.
The democratic deficit that Obama has created in our nation is not only about social issues. I agree with Senator Cruz that Obama’s usurpation of the Constitution is stealing economic, political, and cultural freedom from all Americans, regardless if one be a libertarian, classical liberal (advocates of political and economic liberty), or social conservative (defenders of cultural freedom). The problem in my view remains the same: it is a foundational problem.
The democratic deficit is not simply about a social issue or two. Life and marriage are seriously in jeopardy but the cure requires healing and defending the foundational principles of the republic, a proper re-ordering of Executive power, and the undoing of dozens of unconstitutional executive decrees imposed by Obama on the American people. Without this, advocacy of social issues will be powerless. Argues Cruz, “… I would say defending the Constitution is a top priority…And that cuts across the whole spectrum—whether it is defending the First Amendment, defending religious freedom, stopping courts from making public policy…”
Undoubtedly all of us who were in the fight to defend marriage agree with Senator Cruz that the results of the 32 referendums at the state level, which were fought and won by the advocates of marriage (between a man and a woman) should in a true democracy stand. The sovereignty of states must be defended. It is clear to me that neither the federal government nor the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to impose radical views on life or marriage on any state of the union. It is wrong to argue that it is within the federal government’s jurisdiction to decide these matters, for this concedes powers to the state and the Supreme Court in matters over which the Constitution grants them no prerogative. Cruz’s defense of the Tenth Amendment and the sovereignty of states to defend marriage is a clear stance and is in solidarity with the millions who made their voices clear, with those who invested millions of dollars to defend marriage, and who subsequently saw their votes overturned by a liberal judge or a Supreme Court which has no constitutional ground to rule on the issue. To imply that this is a cowardly compromise and weakness in the defense of marriage is baffling to all of us. The judicial overturning of the defense of marriage in 32 states makes the point clear. Namely, that the states are losing as we all are, more and more rightful sovereignty in this endless abuse of our democracy at the hands of the Obama regime.
Senator Cruz enjoys one other critical skill which was also one that is highlighted in the career of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln would achieve great recognition for his defense of foundational constitutional issues in the Lincoln-Douglas (1858) debates. One cannot underestimate the added value of this debating skill when facing the Democrats’ propaganda machine. Senator Cruz while on the University of Princeton debate team, achieved the “Team of the Year,” award and Cruz was recognized as the top college debater in the nation.
Some have argued that perhaps Cruz’s looks on camera are not as pleasant as for instance Marco Rubio’s boyish looks. But America must get serious. Being photogenic was not what made Abraham Lincoln great. It may be that we are not in need of a looker but someone who commands respect and authority to friends and enemies in a world which slowly turns ever more dangerous. Boyish looks won’t help when sitting across Vladimir Putin, or facing off with Iran, ISIS, or the liberal radical elites trying to subvert our way of life.
In a geopolitical chess match against Vladimir Putin, boyish looks would give me no confidence of a better outcome or choice of player. Having worked in Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union, I learned that a presence that commands respect, authority, and determination will be far more important. I don’t mind that Cruz does not look as friendly as other candidates, I happen to know him and find comfort in someone who commands respect and authority in a dangerous world. In times like this someone who can instill some fear and respect in the hearts and minds of our many adversaries is more useful than the underage appearance of Marco Rubio.
The Medellin vs. Texas case shows Cruz at his best. Cruz, as Solicitor General of Texas, faced off against the International Court of Human Rights, the executive order of George W. Bush, the briefs of 90 foreign nations, the European Union, and others. The United Nations, through its legal arm, was trying to reopen a case of the gang rape and murder of two American teenagers. Cruz argued that, contrary to the executive order of George W. Bush to do this, it violated our Constitution, separation of powers, and the constitution of the State of Texas.
Ernesto Medellin one of the brutal assailants in the case had been sent to jail and the Bush administration and the “internationals” wanted the case reopened for Medellin and 50 other Mexican nationals. Cruz against all odds stood in defense of the Constitution, the sovereignty of Texas and the simple premise that no president by fiat and executive orders can defy the Constitution and the sovereignty of the states. The Supreme Court would side with Ted Cruz 6-3. Defeat would have subjected America and its rule of law to the dictates of the United Nations through the International Court of Human Rights.
In 2008, Cruz would argue successfully before the Supreme Court against the efforts of the Bush administration to water down the right of Americans to bear arms. He led a coalition of 30 states in this case. The Supreme Court would side with Cruz and the coalition of states 5-4.
In a staunch defense against the Ninth Circuit Court of California, which had ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance could not be recited in public schools, Cruz rallied 50 attorneys general to sign on to his amicus brief. The Supreme Court would unanimously agree with Cruz and company.
On the Trump Question
Meanwhile, real estate developer Donald Trump is gadding about telling voters: "We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning." Cruz’s defense of fundamental rights before the Supreme Court is what I call winning. And it is unlikely in my view that a real estate developer could do better or even understand the complexity of these issues. A real estate developer is not what I would call for at a moment of urgent crisis for America.
I submit that neither Huckabee nor Santorum are viable and that the people of Iowa and the rest of us need to get serious. Polls show that currently Cruz beats Hillary in a general election. This is not something even Trump can boast about. Trump is one of the few top-tiered Republican candidates who still, in the average of polls, does not defeat Hillary in a general election. His negatives are off the charts.
The next president can seal the Supreme Court for years to come with two or three more appointments. When foundational rights are in absolute jeopardy we cannot continue to risk bad appointments as we have seen by even so called conservative presidents. The clarity of mind and correct discernment of the legal philosophy of these justices may be one of the most critical decisions the next president will make and our fate is riding on a correct choice of those Supreme Court justices. It is hard to see how the real estate expertise of Mr. Trump will be of any use in this matter. These fundamental questions are not what make Trump tick, and this is something we cannot get wrong. Cutting deals is what gave us half-baked constitutionalists and the slew of abusive decisions the highest court has been dealing America. If this matters, the choice for real expertise and a sound legal mind could make all the difference.
I argue that, whatever candidate voters may choose, the inability to show grace in the face of contradictions is a telling fact about the temperament and character of those individuals. Character shows under stress. Santorum and Huckabee should not compromise their own to try to reach for the unlikely. It takes wisdom to recognize and live the virtues we preach and most need, when defeat nears and hopes of success seem to have extinguished. In this election cycle, their less than gracious behavior may leave us, if we are not careful, with the bad choice of a half-baked conservative as our candidate.
Rev. Guarnizo is a priest involved in public discourse regarding culture, politics and economics in Europe and the United States.