I’m sure there are similar stories about dirty campaign tricks from all over the country, but I’m here in Texas and have a particular interest in the kind of smears which have been surfacing in our Republican Senatorial primary. It’s an interesting race between an insider who started out with a presumed lock on the seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and an large field of candidates representing various interests and grassroots groups from whom an impressive leading challenger has emerged with a real surge of popular support.
Not surprisingly, when an anointed insider candidate like Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who has nearly unlimited money at his command, feels threatened by an insurgent campaign, his reaction is to go negative as big as he can, and Dewhurst has gone after former Solicitor General Ted Cruz with both barrels. He has been running very negative attack ads for several weeks, spending $1 million a week and clearly planning to spend even more in the month remaining in the primary.
What makes this particular negative campaign interesting is that Dewhurst seems to be taking his cues from a third-tier candidate named Glenn Addison who began a negative campaign against Cruz early in the primary. Though there’s no real evidence, some have suspected that Addison may have been acting as a shill for Dewhurst the whole time, but the peculiar nature of his accusations suggest that his attacks on Cruz may have started as a kind of personal vendetta. The attacks are interesting because they all center around a conspiratorial, paleoconservative perspective characteristic of the John Birch Society.
The Bircher-style smears basically come down to taking various things from Cruz’ background and suggesting that he’s part of a conspiracy of the global elite and perhaps even some sort of closet international socialist. From Addison they merely seemed peculiar, but with Dewhurst’s money behind them and reaching a much wider audience they are a lot uglier and more disturbing.
I could go after the ridiculousness of tainting Cruz because his immigrant father fought with Castro as a teenager in Cuba, or because his law firm defended a Chinese tire company in a patent suit, or because he has taken some campaign money from arch-devil of the conspiracy fringe Goldman-Sachs. None of these other attacks make any sense, but there’s one attack which I find more offensive and which is right up my ally because of my past writings on the subject.
You see, it turns out that according to a whisper campaign coming from Dewhurst or Addison or perhaps direct from the John Birch Society, Ted Cruz’ wife is one of the architects of the dreaded “North American Union.” The JBS is the most likely original source in a now-deleted article in the online version of their New American magazine called “Faux Neo-Conservatives Defend North American Union.”
As it turns out, Cruz’ wife Heidi is an international investment banker who was invited to be part of a working group at the Council on Foreign Relations which reviewed a notorious 2005 paper called “Building a North American Community” which was largely authored by Robert Pastor and is the presumed origin of the idea of the North American Union, though Pastor has repeatedly denied that it contains anything like that.
Although the proposals in the paper are a mild call for general hemispheric economic cooperation with no formal structure, the conspiracy-inclined have interpreted it as a sinister conspiracy to destroy American sovereignty and combine us into a single union with Canada and Mexico. They are inherently suspicious of the Council on Foreign Relations, despite its repeated claims to be politically neutral and solely interested in studying issues objectively. It has become a lynchpin in globalist conspiracy theories and anything associated with it immediately looks more sinister in some eyes.
The paper is basically benign, pointing to ways that the nations of North America could work together through free markets and reducing trade barriers to spread more success and raise up the economies of the poorer countries. In its concluding section it says:
“North America is different from other regions of the world and must find its own cooperative route forward. A new North American community should rely more on the market and less on bureaucracy, more on pragmatic solutions to shared problems than on grand schemes of confederation or union, such as those in Europe. We must maintain respect for each other’s national sovereignty.”
Which certainly doesn’t sound all that terrible, what with acknowledging how different North America is from Europe, promoting market solutions instead of government and explicitly rejecting the idea of a “confederation or union” while promoting respect for national sovereignty. It’s almost like the conspiracy theorists never read the document, or gave up after the title and wrote a fantasy version in their heads based solely on the title and their obsession with the CFR.
Admittedly, there are plenty of bad ideas in the report. It’s full of proposals for government managed trade and incentive programs and inter-governmental cooperation for regulation and security. It’s all stuff which makes sense if you think government is the way to solve problems, but not something which would resonate with true conservatives. Yet the big irony here is that it appears that Heidi Cruz doesn’t even agree with those aspects of the report for which she is being blamed.
Heidi Cruz’ role in all of this was as one of a large panel of readers and her sole identifiable contribution to the project is a one-paragraph response in the final appendix in which she says:
“We must emphasize the imperative that economic investment be led and perpetuated by the private sector. There is no force proven like the market for aligning incentives, sourcing capital, and producing results like financial markets and profit-making businesses. This is simply necessary to sustain a higher living standard for the poorest among us — truly the measure of our success. As such, investment fundsand financing mechanisms should be deemed attractive instruments by those committing the capital and should only be developed in conjunction with market participants.”
So basically, her role here is to say that free markets and free trade are the answer to greater regional prosperity. I find it hard to believe that any conservative or republican would disagree with this or condemn her for believing it, and it’s positively bizarre to see someone who is as much of a globalist insider as Dewhurst raising this sort of argument.
The whole idea that Heidi Cruz is part of some grand conspiracy is patently ridiculous. It’s guilt by association and by innuendo from people who don’t understand the CFR or the report which they so revile and who assume that anyone who may have been in a room with Robert Pastor or William Weld must be some sort of globalist stooge. The reality is that the CFR draws on a diverse pool of experts, most of whom have very little involvement in the organization and that its output, like this paper, tends to be in the form of general suggestions with no force behind them which no one ever really acts on. We certainly aren’t plunging headlong into any kind of regional union on the basis of one paper which no one seems to have read.
I chose this particular attack as an example because it is so blatantly baseless. There’s no conspiracy, explicitly no proposal for a North American Union in the source document, and it’s not even clear that Heidi Cruz was all that supportive of the conclusions of the report. It’s all a patchwork of irrational fear and ignorant assumptions with no substance to it whatever. Yet I still see many conservatives who might otherwise support Ted Cruz’ run for the Senate repeating this story at face value without ever having looked into the utter lack of truth behind it.
Something has made some conservatives awfully gullible and extremely suspicious. But you have to wonder why those suspicions aren’t directed at David Dewhurst, a man with connections to every kind of global interest, whose campaign is bought and paid for by big oil, bankers and trial lawyers, and who is basically trying to buy a seat in the Senate with a million dollars a week of negative ads based on BS which he assumes no one will bother to check out. That shouldn’t just make you suspicious. It should make you angry.