On the Internet, a troll purposely inflames anyone he can to attract attention to himself, in hopes of wasting everyone’s time and energy. In the Republican Party, a troll does the same thing and he becomes a hero of the far right and a frontrunner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced on Monday that he had hired Paul Teller as his deputy chief of staff.
Teller — a favorite of outside conservative groups like Club for Growth — was swiftly fired from his position as executive director of the far-right Republican Study Committee in December after leaking conversations between House members.
Cruz’s new hire immediately won praise from Red State’s Erick Erickson, a leader in the movement to push the Republican Party further to the right by demanding continued standoffs in Congress and supporting primary challenges to incumbents, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) joined McConnell in speaking out against outside conservative groups in December, after several opposed the budget deal Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) negotiated with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). By hiring Teller, Cruz cements his allegiance with the groups who championed his effort to shut down the government over Obamacare, which he was able to pull off with the help of the House GOP’s so-called “suicide caucus,” many of whom are members of the Republican Study Committee.
Cruz’s willingness to spurn his party’s leaders represents just one trick in his impressive arsenal of trolling tactics.
The Harvard-educated lawyer, who argued in front of the Supreme Court nine times, recently published a 10,000-word article in the Harvard Law Review that speaks to one of the darkest fantasies of the Tea Party movement: How the United Nations is coming to take our golf courses.
The Daily Beast‘s Ben Jacobs points out that Cruz is artfully speaking to the fear of a world government, a fringe idea that’s surprisingly widespread among the Republican base. If he spoke about his concerns about the UN on network television, he would be deemed “wacky” or “wackier.” So instead, he’s presenting them in one of the most prestigious law journals in the world.
The senator’s immense intellect gives him the ability to frame his extremism in acceptable venues. And it also enables him to make convenient arguments against the president that serve his agenda but crumble under scrutiny.