The Precedent

Let me tell you a story.  There was this Senator.  He had only been in office less than four years and before that had held no other elected offices of note.  His legislative achievements were… scant, to say the least.  But he was well educated, well spoken, and elicited a passionate following from certain parts of his party due to his intelligent and credible arguments for what he - and they - believed in. His family history was checkered, the son of an immigrant with communist ties from which his opponents questioned his citizenship, as he was foreign born.  Despite this, he saw the presidential field in front of him and decided to throw his hat in the ring, challenging the relative of a past president that many in the establishment had anointed the favorite. 

If it sounds familiar, it’s because it is.  Though his partisans would deny it, Ted Cruz is the Republican Barack Obama.  

Both men were (are) legislative non-entities in the Senate.  Then-Senator Obama sponsored a total of two bills that became law.  Senator Cruz has sponsored no bills that have become law. Senator Cruz’s biggest claim to Senatorial fame is shutting down the government to prevent a budget bill from become law that eventually became law anyway. 

Both men are Ivy League educated lawyers best known for their fiery speaking style that arouses passionate responses from their respective ends of the spectrum.  Barack Obama announced his political arrival with a rousing speech at the 2004 Democratic National convention.  Ted Cruz regularly sets CPAC on fire with his impassioned speeches. 

Both men have what their critics say is an “eligibility” problem due to (alleged) foreign birth.  But let’s be honest, for both men, it is a crack-pot theory. 

Both men are seeking to wrest the nomination from the relative of the former president: Obama, successfully from former first lady Hillary Clinton; Cruz from Gov. Jeb Bush, the son and brother of TWO former Presidents. 

Those reading this who are Cruz partisans would shrug off the comparison and point out that Barack Obama is in fact, no longer a Senator.  That he is, in fact the President.  Those that would use that as your argument for Ted Cruz I ask - Dear God, why? 

The truth is, every criticism that we lobbed at Barack Obama in 2008 (that he was inexperienced, that he was an empty suit peddling slogans but not solutions, that he was, to borrow a phrase from Sen. Cruz’s homeland, all hat and no cattle) can credibly be lobbed back at Senator Cruz.    

As the process for our party’s nomination begins in earnest, it is important to keep these comparisons are in mind.  To fix our nation’s problems (paying off the national debt, solving the immigration problem, curbing entitlements, solving the looming social security debacle, among many others) we’re going to need someone who can get results, not just paint pretty rhetorical pictures.  After six years of empty hope and change from our lecturer-in-chief, our nation deserves a leader who can give us actual solutions.   Can we really expect that from the Republican Barack Obama?   The Republican party deserves better and should expect more of its future standard bearer. 

(Editor's Note - Matthew Fairley, Esq. is a regular contributor to Behind Enemy Lines on air and on this blog, is a civil litigator, General Counsel of the Brooklyn Young Republicans and Vice-Chairman of the Law Committee for the Brooklyn Republican Party.  Follow Matthew on Twitter @fairleym1999.  Or not. See if he cares.  No, but really, you should follow him.  For real. 
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About Matthew Fairley

To learn more about the author, check out the "About Us" page. Behind Enemy Lines Radio is a national Award-Winning radio show / podcast broadcasting live out of the belly of the Democratic beast - "The People's Republic of" New York City that airs on multiple radio stations as part of the Talk America Radio Network. It is also an "Insider" column on Newsmax featuring show hosts Gene Berardelli and Russell Gallo. The show is also available on multiple networks across the internet, with more being added regularly.


  1. Interesting article, Matt, and with true points. However, unlike with Obama, you can actually argue that Cruz is actually addressing the very issue that you bring up, about the inexperience of Presidential candidates who use the U.S. Senate as a springboard without good reason on their resume. The problem is not with either President (assuming he's elected), but with the Presidency itself, and Cruz is the only one who is addressing it, however indirectly, by seeking to repeal the 17th Amendment.

    And the ultimate irony is that, whoever is elected, the President has no say on the matter (since ratification belongs to the States)!

    If the States do not like the relative ease with which slick-talking Presidential candidates can goof off in the Senate and then put their feet up on the White House coffee table, then they only have themselves to blame for not wanting to properly vet them through their own legislatures in the first place!

    The same voters who would be sympathetic enough to your argument to think that any Presidential candidate should be more rigorously vetted, should take a good long look in the mirror when most of them cannot even name their own state legislators. At least Cruz is taking the Senate to task by supporting the repeal of the 17th.

    The United States Senate was originally designed to be a referendum on how actively people cared about state politics. So, garbage in, garbage out.

    Also interesting to note a quote from the article, in the context of the 17th Amendment debate,
    where the article itself actually dismisses the national significance of state legislators:

    "[Obama] had only been in office less than four years and before that had held no other elected offices of note."

    As it turns out, Obama represented the 13th District of the Illinois State Senate from 1997-2004. If more people took the role of state legislators more seriously, they would see the real root of the problem. We are a nation of wanna-be monarchs in a self-purported democracy. Anyone who only votes for the office of President every 4 years is basically saying, with or without knowing it, that he or she only seeks a single dictator. That voter shouldn't act surprised, then, if we get one.

    The devil is always in the overlooked details, until it blows up in everyone's face.

    So keep an eye on your state legislators, America. Today's nobody in an elected office in your own state could be tomorrow's despot. And as counterintuitive as it may sound, if we really want to be more vigilant in making sure that nobody in our own statehouses runs away with the nation, we should support the repeal of the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    -- Len Forstell


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