Ted Cruz’s commitment to the state of Israel is sincere and beyond reproach. So too, it seems, is his commitment to grandiosity and self-promotion.
With that in mind, having read the Washington Free Beacon’s reporting about Hezbollah supporters being featured at the Middle East Christian conference he would address Wednesday night, the choice to take a public stand for Israel — a move which got him booed off stage! — probably seemed like a slam dunk.
How could defending Israel possibly turn out badly? On top of everything else, it would show boldness and courage.
That was my initial take, too — and it may still turn out that way. This high-profile incident may very well help him amongst evangelicals in Iowa. But, it turns out, not so much amongst Christian opinion leaders inside the beltway.
@McCormackJohn Telling M.E. Christians they “have no greater ally than the Jewish state,” the line that touched off the booing, is risible.
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) September 11, 2014
This is an important, if subtle, distinction — and one that conservatives should be familiar with. Douthat is suggesting that the crowd wasn’t booing Israel, instead, they were booing Cruz for playing politics — for having the audacity to lecture them about their own business.
Remember that Republican debate where the crowd booed a gay soldier? The optics were horrible, but here’s what I always suspected. I always suspected that they weren’t booing the soldier so much as they were booing the media for setting them up.
They were booing the media for the unseemly way they were using this soldier to advance the notion that conservatives are anti-gay. They were booing the media for focusing on this one wedge issue when there are so many important issues. They were booing the media for framing the debate when it should really be up to Republicans to select their nominee. They were booing because they were being used as a pawn — as a backdrop — to make a larger point (at their expense, no less).
Likewise, it sounds like Douthat (and others) believe that’s essentially why they were booing Cruz.
I’m reminded of the late comedian Dennis Wolfberg, who had this joke about how his dad would comfort him during Little League baseball games. “They’re not yelling ‘boo,’ his dad said — they’re yelling ‘Jew.'”
In other words: You’re not a bad baseball player — they’re anti-Semites!
I think they were yelling “boo.”