TPM Cafe: Opinion

Ted Cruz, who has become one of the Tea Party's most prominent voices, has officially announced his bid for president. But how is it that a graduate of Princeton and Harvard, a Bush appointee, can pass muster as the standard-bearer for a movement that is supposed to represent anti-elitist, anti-establishment, “real America”?

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I learned to swim in the Charlottesville, Virginia, public schools. My teacher was a giant, gregarious man named Mr. Byers of whom I was more than a little intimidated and a lot in awe. I can still remember the firm but caring way he comforted us as we watched the Challenger explosion live on a small television in his poolside office. In his main job as a lifeguard, Mr. Byers had demonstrated the same care; he had been struck by lightning on multiple occasions while trying to get swimmers out of pools during storms. Yet in the 1970s and 80s Charlottesville, in which both he and I lived, there were many swimming pools to which Mr. Byers, who was African-American, was not allowed or welcome.

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Back when I was a much younger man, I worked briefly for a Democratic member of Congress from my home state. (This was when West Virginia still had Democratic members of Congress.) I performed the sorts of duties still executed by eager young things today, unglamorous tasks but nevertheless important ones to the good taxpaying people back home: answering constituent mail, helping widows get their husbands’ black-lung benefits and so on.

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Advocates for looser restrictions on gun ownership and use often portray themselves not as defenders of a noisy and expensive hobby, but the protectors of freedom itself. Wrapping themselves in the Second Amendment and claiming to speak for the Founding Fathers is central to the anti-gun control argument, right up there with claiming that “guns don’t kill people” and peddling fantasies of heroic self-defense against a largely imaginary crime wave.

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So Ted Cruz became the first official 2016 presidential candidate yesterday. And a lot of people want to know what the two-degree Ivy Leaguer and national debate champ could possibly be thinking.

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My neighborhood has a lot of the usual features of a well-established community that happens to be in the middle of a major city: farmer’s market, library, bars, specialty stores, schools, restaurants. Oh, and the crisis pregnancy clinic.

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On Monday September 9, 2013, the first of four days of now-infamous lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that triggered paralyzing traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee, N.J., the mayor of that town, Mark Sokolich, placed a phone call to Bill Baroni, the No. 2 executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

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Gov. Rick Perry’s political action committee, RickPAC, grabbed headlines this week by hiring Jamie Johnson as senior director. It’s a surprising choice, because Johnson is a sexist. Not the usual kind that swears up and down he’s not a sexist while talking down to women or minimizing the impact of sexism, either. Johnson, who previously worked for Iowa Right to Life and the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, is bluntly sexist. In 2012, an email Johnson wrote surfaced in which he wrote, “The question then comes, ‘Is it God’s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will…to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?’”

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If Obamacare survives its current Supreme Court challenge, it will really be the cat with nine lives.

The death of what became the Affordable Care Act has been predicted regularly ever since President Obama’s election in 2008. Right after Obama’s election, I got a wave of calls from reporters, each highly skeptical that the President-elect would really try to get health care passed. When you consider the relentless attacks and near-death experiences ever since, the reporters’ skepticism was understandable.

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This week, President Obama discussed some of the most pressing global matters of our time: ISIS, climate change, nuclear deals, and...weed. As in, he begrudgingly discussed the potential federal legalization of marijuana. I say begrudgingly, because the president made it clear that he thinks young people these days have misplaced their priorities. Instead of thinking about marijuana, they should be thinking about things like climate change.

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