“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. “
~ John Adams, 1798
By Torey Dawn Hodges at Battle Born Design
In full disclosure, I take pictures for Ted Cruz. I also, this election cycle, have taken pictures of and for Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich. But I’m just a little guy. Or a little gal, actually. I cover events as an observer, not as an invited guest. And behind my camera I see what few get to see. In the quest for good pictures, I capture moments of absolute clarity.
I once photographed Marco Rubio at an event in his childhood elementary school. In the heat of the Las Vegas summer, the air conditioning went down. He was sweating profusely, which he does under lights anyway, but he was a joy to capture. He never complained. He stood for pictures with everyone. He was happy to be there. +1 Rubio.
I’ve covered several Ted Cruz events now. I can think of no political figure, other than maybe Michele Bachman, who I noticed noticing “the help.” And he literally went out of his way to personally thank me. That is rare. He didn’t look past or through me; he saw and connected with me. Those claims of low likeability are nonsense. He’s a natural with the people. +10 Cruz.
Bully at the Pulpit:
No, I haven’t shot a Trump event, but I observed an event that altered my view of him. I no longer entertain a Cruz/Trump 2016 or Trump/Cruz 2016 line-up. I don’t think that would work.
My dad, a self-made sound engineer, understands sound systems and recording, and he has a passion for mainly vintage amplifiers and mics. No surprise, he was taken aback when he heard Trump’s Pensacola rant:
“And by the way I don’t like this mic, whoever the hell brought this mic system don’t pay the son of a bitch who brought it in …. No, this mic is terrible, stupid mic keeps popping. You hear that George? Don’t pay him! Don’t pay him. You know I believe in paying but when somebody does a bad job like this stupid mic you shouldn’t pay the bastard. Terrible, terrible. It’s true. And you gotta be tough with your people because they’ll pay, they don’t care. So we’re not going to pay. I guarantee I’m not going to pay for this mic. Every two minutes I hear like boom boom. Anyway, I hope it’s okay for you out there.” Donald Trump, Pensacola, FL, 1-13-16
From what we can tell, Trump was overpowering the mic. It appears to have been a standard podium gooseneck; workable, though not the best choice for the venue. It had a protective windscreen, but he was still too close. Diagnosis: Bad mic technique. He was even overdriving the pre-amp. The normal response would be to move back a few inches. Instead, he moved in even closer to drive home the point. He didn’t want to allow for a problem to be corrected. He wanted to attack.
That’s a bully with real power. The crowd seemed to be impressed by that. My question is why? Are we now to take pleasure in watching the little guy get kicked to death? Is this how he treats a waitress when his steak is a bit too rare? Or the maid when the towels aren’t just right? I think I’d take a pass on a camera job that might ruin my career.
Humans are imperfect; they make mistakes. Rubio could have fussed about the air conditioning going out in that school, but he smiled right through it. That’s what anyone but a petulant child would do. But Trump is no Rubio. And he definitely is no Cruz.
Faith of Their Fathers:
Obama (and Bill Ayers) wrote the book: “Dreams of My Father.” The fathers of both Trump and Cruz had dreams too. Both were dominant figures with high expectations for their sons. That is probably where the similarities end.
Rafael Cruz, Ted’s father, wasn’t always a minister. And some might reasonably argue that he’s not a minister now. He holds a mathematics degree from the University of Texas and worked in the oil and gas industry. A Cuban immigrant to America, then Canada, then back to America, his life includes some contradictions. A newly-found Christian faith once saved his marriage, but while a more mature Christian it was lost again. Regardless of personal failures, he raised his son to believe that God had big plans for him. He explains immersing and nurturing his son in faith and freedom:
… When he was four I used to read Bible stories to him all the time. And I would declare and proclaim the word of God over him. And I would just say, ‘You know Ted, you have been gifted above any man that I know and God has destined you for greatness’. …
So before my son left high school he was passionate about the Constitution. He was passionate about freedom and free markets and limited governments. And before he left high school he knew without a shadow of a doubt what his purpose was. And it was to defend and protect freedom and the Constitution, to fight for free markets and limited government.
Perhaps Cruz Sr. has lived his own dreams through his son. He “wept when his son took his oath, and every day he says a prayer of thanks that he and his son can work together at the national level.” And he wasn’t wrong about his son being destined for greatness: a great student; a great litigator; a great conservative leader.
Fred Trump Sr., Donald’s father, immersed his sons in his multi-generational real estate business. A master builder who, according to the NYT, was an authoritarian, workaholic father. “‘He didn’t like wimps,’ … ‘He thought competition made you sharper.’” When his namesake, Fred Jr., failed to live up to his dreams he cut him out of his will leaving his grandchildren to fight for their birthright.
Then came the unveiling of Fred Sr.’s will, which Donald had helped draft. It divided the bulk of the inheritance, at least $20 million, among his children and their descendants, “other than my son Fred C. Trump Jr.” Freddy’s children sued, claiming that an earlier version of the will had entitled them to their father’s share of the estate, but that Donald and his siblings had used “undue influence” over their grandfather, who had dementia, to cut them out. A week later, Mr. Trump retaliated by withdrawing the medical benefits critical to his nephew’s infant child. “I was angry because they sued,” he explained …. New York Times, 1/3/2016.
For good and bad, Donald was his father’s son. “In Donald, the father found a spirit as large as his own, albeit more devilish. The two thrived on one another.” The Trump legacy is passed down to his own children who, by all appearances, have made him very proud. Trump might want to add to all of his get-rich books, a how-to book on parenting for the wealthy. But what if one child goes his own way; will that child and those grandchildren be cut out of his will?
Rosetta Stone: Learn Christian
Trump supporters have adopted the language of progressives who slam Cruz’s Christian faith. A life-long Southern Baptist, Cruz has worshiped with Houston’s mainstream, but that hasn’t stopped detractors from referring to him, derogatorily, as a “dominionist” and advocate of a Christian theocracy. Either ignorant or disrespectful of biblical symbolism and sacraments, they are floating a spliced-and-diced video of his father with prominent ministers praying and laying hands on Cruz. They see this as evidence of him being anointed as a heretical king, but they float no video, and cite no instance, of Cruz speaking religious (or constitutional) heresy.
Matt Drudge posted a headline: “CRUZ: FIGHT FOR CHRIST!” with a preacherish hands-lifted image. Not exactly a Drudge endorsement, but what falls flat in New York may be pitch-perfect for Iowa. Some might remember the Moral Majority; those politically activated Southern Baptists who flipped the south for Reagan. Well, Cruz is being linked to a similar project that encourages the faithful to engage in local, state, and national politics. He therefore personifies the resurrection of the “religious right” and threatens the very moral fabric of all of Reality TV.
Cruz supporters have adopted the language of evangelicals who question Trump’s Christian faith. When quizzed about asking for God’s forgiveness, with full sincerity Trump replied: “I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so … I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.” Speaking the Christian language isn’t easy for one who has spent his entire life building an earthly kingdom.
Trump is a proud Presbyterian, not in good standing (until they miss his money), but he was also a disciple of Norman Vincent Peale. The “Power of Positive Thinking,” with its self-knowledge and self-forgiveness, aligns closer with trying to “do a better job” than it does with the Apostles’ Creed.
For one who claims the Bible as his favorite book, Trump doesn’t seem to know much about it. “I have a great relationship with God” and “2 Corinthians, right?” shows he’s winging it. Can’t blame the guy for trying. Like us all, he’s a work in progress. His lack of biblical knowledge does not reflect his heart. What does reflect his heart, and a demonstration of why he needs forgiveness, was his treatment of the little guy who set up his mic.
2 Corinthians walked into a Bar:
The character of the people choosing a leader defines what kind of leader they will choose. The Founders valued character; they chose a humble man as president who rejected the anointment as king. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people [and is] wholly inadequate to the government of any other, but maybe it’s “we the people” who are no longer wholly adequate for our Constitution.
We’ve already seen the Constitution redefined without changing a single word, and recent High Court decisions are as incoherent as Trump’s understanding of the Bible. “2 Corinthians walked into a bar” is a fun joke to poke, but how many of the “Congratulations North Korea” generation would nod their heads in agreement that 2 Corinthians, according to the Book of Koran, did just that? For whom will they vote to lead them to the promised land? And who will save them from themselves?
The question and answer lie in which candidate, Cruz or Trump, would be most likely to reject a coronation? That candidate, if we still value character, is who possesses the character of a leader.
* ® DNC
… and now, in closing: