Getting Off Cruz Control

Sometimes days seem to move just like a big fat man
sometimes days seem to end up where they first began
I've got my t.v tuned to channel you
because there's nothing else that i can do
maybe i should set my heart for cruise control

...maybe I've got alot of you inside my brain
maybe I'd better shave my memory again
then I'll smile and blow it all away
and send you postcards from another day
maybe I should of set my heart for cruise control

...when panic overrides my soul give me cruise control
sometimes days seem to move just like a big fat man
sometimes days seem to end up where they first began
and then it looks like I drove you away
I'll tell myself you didn't want to stay
maybe I should have set my heart for cruise control

What does it mean?

Ted Cruz Fires Communications Director: What does it mean?

Rick Tyler succeeded my old friend Tony Blankley as Newt Gingrich's communications director. I had brought Tony, my friend who I knew from junior high school, back to Washington to be legislative counselor for newly-elected Member of Congress Bobbi Fiedler. Tony later moved from Capitol Hill to the Department of Education and the White House before signing on, without even an interview, with the man who would shortly become Speaker of the House.

Yesterday Mr. Tyler, who has been serving as communications director to the presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz, apologized to Sen. Marco Rubio for posting an inaccurate story. Showing Rubio walking past a Ted Cruz staffer, the video included incorrect subtitles - suggesting that Rubio said the Bible "didn't have many answers in it." Rubio says he said: "The answer to every question you'll ever have is in that Book."

Sen. Rubio, at least as a political tactic to put Cruz on the defensive, was right to call for Tyler's firing. Political campaign staff members are, those of us who have run campaigns know, expendable. In some cases, the person is fired to take the rap. Was he pursuing a campaign policy? Or perhaps the victim of the way the campaign operates?

However, although we don't know all the facts, Tyler already had publicly apologized and said "I would not knowingly post something that is false," and Marco Rubio had accepted the apology. Why wasn't Mr. Tyler's mea culpa sufficiently reassuring?

Sen. Cruz said no matter what the explanation, he would not question anyone's faith. Evangelicals, who ought to be supporting Ted Cruz or Ben Carson, have instead given a plurality to Donald Trump, who jas questioned the Baptist faith of Cruz and the Seventh Day Adventist faith of Carson. Just days after Pope Francis had questioned whether Donald Trump was a Christian, here was a ranking Ted Cruz operative questioning Marco Rubio's faith. Both Cruz and Rubio had sided with Trump in that controversy.

If Cruz did not fire Tyler, the issue would remain alive. But even though he has fired Tyler, Cruz remains on the defensive. And, of course, the main beneficiary of all this is not Rubio, but Trump who, for the time being, still sees Cruz as his threat.

Tony Blankley would never have released the video with the wrong subtitles. He would have carefully verified the video and audio. If it were correct and its release served a strategic purpose, only then would Tony release it, orchestrated for the best impact.

Rick Tyler is a competent professional and is considered to be a man of integrity. So why would he release the video without checking it? Surely he would know that it would be disputed, even disproven. Can we assume then that he thought it was genuine? Still, he should have carefully validated its authenticity and accuracy, perhaps checking with witnesses so he could defend it if challenged.

Tyler's action seemed impulsive. This relates partly to the Internet age, in which campaigns move in fast-forward mode. There is no wait, as there once was, for the evening news, or the next morning's newspaper. Within minutes, via social media, a story is everywhere, and reactions are instance.

Tyler's imprudence also may relate to the Cruz-Rubio rivalry. At least for now, they seem to be competing for the anti-Trump position and there is a frenzy. Cruz has the financial advantage, but Rubio and his SuperPACs might benefit from Jeb's departure from the race. Until Rubio proves more of a threat, Trump will focus on Cruz, that's the way Trump operates. The only exception was Jeb -- who was never a threat to Trump, but Trump used him as a whipping boy prop.

But there is another reason for what might seem rash behavior. Tyler may have felt pressure to deliver, given the current attack mode of the Cruz campaign. This is at odds with Cruz' originally positive campaign, bereft of personal attacks, that Cruz initially pursued. Remember, for example, when Cruz did a joint rally with Trump to oppose the Iran deal. And Cruz for months would not criticize "Donald." Perhaps Cruz now wants to return to the status quo ante, his position that he does not want to jeopardize the general election by undercutting his rivals.

But how can Cruz ignore Trump, who cleverly has questioned the bona fides of Cruz. Trump even suggested that Cruz might not be constitutionally eligible for the presidency. Each time Cruz in turn disputes Trump's record, Trump calls Cruz a liar. But more to the point, the Cruz campaign has given Trump ammunition. Who can say, the outcome would have been different in Iowa, as Trump claims, that is, if the Iowa results would have been different if the Cruz campaign workers had not implied at the caucuses that Ben Carson might be dropping out? And days earlier the Cruz campaign had mailed a deceptive mailing that Trump keeps mentioning in his attacks on the credibility of Cruz, who Trump now calls "the biggest liar in politics."

This mailing was short-term gratification for the zealous Cruz staff, but it haunts the Cruz campaign.

At the end of the day, who is Ted Cruz?

It was the task of the Cruz inner circle and Mr. Tyler to help define a man acknowledged to be highly intelligent and deeply principled, and quite possible the most literate and learned candidate in the race. Among the entire original group of seventeen candidates, Ted Cruz was the most knowledgeable and philosophically based conservative. His liberal detractors say he looks like Lou Costello or Joe McCarthy, but they cannot refute the well-reasoned arguments that Cruz advances.

Cruz has a high tech campaign, and his managers gleefully and imprudently publicize proprietary specifics. All that ego-tripping doesn't help their candidate. But no amount of technology can compensate for what the Cruz team has so far failed to provide for its articulate and intense candidate. Focus groups would clearly have shown that Cruz seems to talk at people, not to people, that he seems structured, formal, unapproachable, ideological, and rigid.

At a social event a few days ago I encountered several people, former liberals who had become very conservative, who thought highly of Cruz but were supporting Rubio. I asked why. They said they preferred Cruz but felt he seemed to be "obnoxious," and they thought Rubio would fare better as the nominee in November.

The Cruz campaign focus groups would have shown, or should have shown the challenges with the persona of Ted Cruz and pointed the way to help this highly intelligent man become more human, personable, charming, likable -- however you want to say it. Of course, this requires high level campaign people with direct access to the candidates who have the institutional memory and judgment and smarts and rapport to work with him closely. You don't resolve these challenges with high tech. This is a people thing.

Any campaign polling would have uncovered even more than what the public polls are showing - trouble within the Cruz base of evangelicals. What Cruz needed was not a superior database of more voter logarithmns, but wise counsel from thoughtful strategists to enhance his persona There has been ample time to reconcile the authenticity of Cruz with a charm course. Why was last year squandered?

The Cruz campaign has all the bells and whistles. The immigration commercial was superb. But what about humanizing Ted Cruz? Sen. Cruz often acts like he is speaking to Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), the Intercollegiate Studies institute (ISI) or, most of all the Federalist Society. Even if he were to talk to a hardcore conservative group, the television coverage to a much wider audience can be key.

Does he really believe this election is "a referendum on the Supreme Court"? Maybe, but he is, or should be, talking to America.

Donald Trump says he is a "common sense conservative." Ted Cruz says he is a "constitutional conservative." Mark Levin's radio listeners know what a "constitutional conservative" is. But for everyone else, the rhetoric of Ted Cruz at times seems arcane and esoteric.

an earlier version of this appeared at