Law Professors, Politics, R. Ted Cruz, Ridiculousness, Texas

Ted Cruz Doubles Down On Idiotic, Incorrect Statement About Harvard Law

I keep telling people, if I just did my thing of making controversial statements that draw attention to myself, but called myself a “Republican” who happened to be black, I’d be a sitting Congressman right now instead of a blogger.

Well, maybe I’d need to buttress my “controversy” with being factually incorrect and an unwillingness to admit that I’m wrong. But I’m close to being enough of a train wreck to be a Republican candidate of color. Let me just… sorry… get this water right here… ahhhh.

Like me, current GOP crazypants darling Ted Cruz went to Harvard Law School. He apparently learned the same lesson there that I did: never let facts get in the way of a good story. In a 2010 speech, Cruz said that when he was at HLS there were more Communists on the faculty than Republicans.

Now, that is clearly an outlandish and incorrect comment, said for effect to an audience that doesn’t know any better. But, in classic modern GOP fashion, when confronted with this ridiculous piece of rhetoric, Cruz stood by the statement.

Because for reasons passing understanding, it’s not enough to say that the faculty at Harvard Law School is overwhelmingly liberal (true), now they have to be Communist (not true) in order to gin up the requisite amount of hatred for Northeastern elites that Cruz (a Canadian who went to Princeton and then Harvard Law School) wants his constituents to feel….

For those who don’t hang on the every word of Ted Cruz, here’s what he said in a 2010 speech at a luncheon for Americans for Prosperity (the Koch brothers’ organization), as reported in the New Yorker:

Cruz greeted the audience jovially, but soon launched an impassioned attack on President Obama, whom he described as “the most radical” President “ever to occupy the Oval Office.” (I was covering the conference and kept the notes.)

He then went on to assert that Obama, who attended Harvard Law School four years ahead of him, “would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.” The reason, said Cruz, was that, “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”

In their own way, these two paragraphs sum up everything that is wrong with the modern Republican party (if you want to see everything that is wrong with the modern Democratic party, see Harry Reid: 2013 Filibuster Reform).

Cruz could have made the empirically true statement that the HLS faculty was overwhelmingly liberal in terms of party affiliation or legal philosophy. And he could have said the less true but politically expected point that Barack Obama would be the perfect kind of liberal to lead them.

But for some reason, the facts that supported Cruz’s point weren’t enough for him, so he had to go and make stuff up.

For the record, there were not a bunch of professors on the HLS faculty who wanted Communists to overthrow the U.S. government. Not when Cruz was there in the mid-90s, not when I was there in early 2000s. It’s just untrue. Even REPUBLICAN HLS LAW PROFESSOR Charles Fried says that Cruz is wrong:

“I can right offhand count four “out” Republicans (including myself) and I don’t know how many closeted Republicans when Ted, who was my student and the editor on the Harvard Law Review who helped me with my Supreme Court foreword, was a student here.”

Fried went on to say that unlike Cruz, or McCarthy, who infamously kept tallies of alleged subversives, he had never tried to count Communists. “I have not taken a poll, but I would be surprised if there were any members of the faculty who ‘believed in the Communists overthrowing the U.S. government,’” he said.

Liberals that vastly outnumber conservatives? Sure. People who want to overthrow the government? Please stop saying stupid lies.

Now, a reasonable person would probably back off of crazy falsehoods said in a red meat speech while running for office once they are sitting United States Senators. But acknowledging facts is not how Republicans get elected in the current environment. So Cruz’s spokesperson backed up the statements in the Blaze (gavel bang: ABA Journal)

Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told the Blaze she found it curious that the New Yorker would dig up the old speech. “Regardless, Senator Cruz’s substantive point was absolutely correct,” she said. “In the mid-1990s, the Harvard Law School faculty included numerous self-described proponents of ‘critical legal studies’—a school of thought explicitly derived from Marxism—and they far outnumbered Republicans.”

Now these people are playing around with the word “substantive.”

The substance of Cruz’s statement — that there are a bunch of Communists at HLS committed to the overthrow of the U.S. Government — is factually incorrect. I think we can all see that. This entirely separate point, that there are or were people on the HLS faculty who believed in critical legal studies, is probably true — though there’s no accounting for whether those people outnumbered the Republicans on the faculty. I mean, it’s not like Cruz was keeping any kind of list, I hope, so he’s making statements where he likely has no facts, whatsoever, that support him.

What I don’t understand is why Cruz is making this up. Honestly, could somebody more versed in Republican political thought explain to me the virtue of lying in this way? The only people dumb enough to believe it are going to vote for you anyway. I understand when Republicans lie because telling the truth is politically painful. I get calling Obama a big spender when in fact spending has flatlined under his administration. I understand lying when the truth doesn’t help you.

But here, the truth is that the faculty at HLS is generally left-leaning. NOBODY WOULD DISPUTE THAT. Why couldn’t he say, “Obama would make a perfect president dean of Harvard Law School. There were fewer declared Republicans there than LIBERALS.” Why isn’t that enough? Are the kind of soft-headed yokels Cruz appeals to really sitting there saying, “I don’t much mind elitist liberals on the Harvard faculty, but communists who want to overthrow the government need to be stopped”?

Let me put it this way: I don’t have to say “Ted Cruz is a fascist who hates the free thinking at one of America’s greatest universities.” It’s really enough to say, “Ted Cruz is a Republican from Texas.”

Is Senator Ted Cruz Our New McCarthy? [The New Yorker]
Ted Cruz Responds to ‘New McCarthy’ New Yorker Article: ‘Curious’ They Would ‘Dredge Up a 3-Year-Old Speech & Call it News’ [The Blaze]
Senator sticks to his accusation: Communists outnumbered Republicans at Harvard Law School [ABA Journal]

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