Politics

Why Ted Cruz Should Reach Out To Mitch McConnell

Screen Shot MSNBC

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
Font Size:

Even for high achievers (especially for high achievers?) ego can be a career-limiting liability.

Let’s take the case of Ted Cruz, for example. As the Weekly Standard notes, “[crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] said that he won’t humble himself before Senate Majority Leader [crscore]Mitch McConnell[/crscore] to smooth over the rough relationship he has developed with colleagues.” (Specifically, he said he won’t go “on bended knee, with my hat in hand” to McConnell.)

I can understand the Cruz’s desire to preserve his outsider status, and we all have fallen victim to the temptation to gloat over our successes. But I still suspect this is a mistake. With Marco Rubio now out of the race, Cruz has an opportunity to get mainstream conservatives and establishment Republicans to coalesce around his candidacy. (It’s important to note that their reservations have much less to do with his philosophy than they do with his personality and tactics.)

Now, I know he has said he would welcome Rubio supporters “with open arms,” but this sounded a tad perfunctory. Cruz has a real opportunity to close ranks behind him, but any signals he sends about holding grudges can only undermine his chances.

The Republican “establishment,” such as it exists, has clearly been rendered impotent. Cruz, who is now among the victors, could now graciously extend a face-saving olive branch—and bring his former enemies into the fold against the common enemy, Donald Trump. What I am suggesting is that he should be the bigger man. Cruz could then kindly co-opt the “establishment” (not the other way around) into this great, new, shared cause. And all it would take is to swallow a little bit of pride.

(Maybe I’m wrong; maybe McConnell wouldn’t willing to let bygones be bygones, no matter what Cruz now does. Regardless, Cruz should try.)

One of my favorite books on campaigning is James Carville and Paul Begalla’s terrifically-titled book, Buck Up, Suck Up…And Come Back When You Foul Up.

Cruz should pay more attention to the “suck up” part of the title—or, at least, section in the sucking up chapter which is titled “Turning Fools Into Tools.”

Now, Carville and Begalla aren’t advising obsequiousness or being a “brownnoser.” Rather, they are saying that it is the job of a leader to go the extra mile, to allow people to save face, to sell his ideas, and to let the other guy save face.

In his book, Hardball, Chris Matthews advises: “Don’t get mad, don’t get even, get ahead.” If Cruz wants to be president, this is a good maxim to follow.

These are basically elementary lessons that you can learn from reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends And Influence People—another good book that Ted Cruz should probably read.

Note: The author’s wife previously advised Ted Cruz’s campaign for U.S. Senate.