Is Cruz a Brainy Reactionary or Just 'Right' for Evangelical GOP? Or Both?

03/29/2015 08:39 pm ET | Updated Mar 30, 2015



By Mark Green

Remember that post-2012 RNC "autopsy" that was supposed to expand the party? Now comes contender Cruz who wants the base to vote, not grow. Ron Christie and Gara LaMarche debate whether he's the party's RX or poison. And has Baker's break with Bibi created a problem for "Bush45"?

On Cruz and Conservatives. John Lennon Cruz listed a series of right-wing "Imagines" at Liberty University -- like abolishing the IRS and ACA -- and likens himself to Reagan, who was as welcoming and experienced a persona as Cruz is not. Ted's prospects?

Ron thinks it's liberal condescension to disparage Cruz as a backward-looking neanderthal when "he's a brilliant and cheerful conservative." Gara sees him as making lots of enemies, unlike the sainted Reagan, "but is trying to corner the hard-right religious market along with Huckabee, Santorum, Carson." We all agree that could be significant in a Primary sequence where Evangelicals are a majority of the GOP vote in the first and third primaries (Iowa and South Carolina), while New Hampshire is only a week after Iowa and could this time succumb to the momentum of an Iowa winner.

Host: whatever happened to that RNC autopsy after the 2012 debacle? The first announced candidate basically stated that he wants the base to turn out rather than expand. With fewer debates mostly run by Fox cheerleaders and with SuperPacs allowing more fringe candidates to stay around longer, it appears that the GOP may reprise a long-running and self-wounding primary season of who can out-con the other. Will they again "self-deport" out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

GOP insider Ron adds two opinions: a) with Jeb burdened by his last name and un-freshness, look for the other Sunshine-Stater, Marco Rubio -- who also has foreign policy chops that Jeb doesn't -- to emerge; b) and if Gov. Kasich runs, he could be a formidable general election candidate because of his support for Medicaid expansion and ability to economically turn around OHIO.

Which leads the Host to look ahead a mere 478 days before the Republican Convention's floor vote the third week of July 2016 in OHIO. Is a Rubio-Kasich ticket the party's strongest application to the Electoral College?

On Bibi, Baker, Bush. Given the exploding Middle East and nearly unprecedented chill between American and Israeli heads of state (worst since Ike forced Israel out of the Sinai in '56?), a question: what's the impact now that former Secretary of State James Baker, who helped Reagan, Bush41 and Bush43 get elected, told the liberal Jewish group J Street that Netanyahu had gone too far...forcing Jeb to distance himself from the family's influential retainer and friend?

Christie sees the Baker break as "remarkable, momentous, sending shock waves across the Republican establishment... even though it's true, as Bibi said, that there can't be a Palestinian State as long as Palestinians are intent on killing Israelis and Khameini in Iran this week said death to America,' citing the fraught negotiations with Iran as well. So you're against the Iranian deal before you know what's in it? "Absolutely," he says, listing the bad things Iran has said and done.

Gara thinks that Baker's move is gutsy and creates more space for Hillary when she finally speaks about it. But at the least, Netanyahu's pandering, racializing, partisan-izing campaign "has further isolated Israel and eroded the country bi-partisan support in the US."

On CFPB: Good- or Over-Regulation? The panel discusses the first four years of he Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, created as part of the Dodd-Frank Law of 2011.

Ron thinks it a bad law procedurally because only Democrats supported it, its funding is tied to the FED and largely unreviewable, and it's headed by an illegal recess appointment. But has it worked to help consumers get obtain fairer mortgages, pay day loans and student debt? Pamela Banks of Consumer Reports says yes, citing the $4 billion returned to consumers and better rules like making sure that borrowers have the capacity to afford mortgages, unlike what happened in the crash of 2008.

Gara thinks the law and Bureau are working and that they could inspire a reprise of the 1978 government-wide Consumer Protection Agency proposal that failed at the start of the Reagan anti-regulatory revolution. We three agree that, a) if there's a Republican President and Congress in 2017, there will be a push to eliminate or weaken the popular agency (which will likely to fail - Host) and that b) if and when there's a Democratic President and Congress, there could be a renewed push for a CPA.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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