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Ted Cruz: First Intellectual Tea-Partier Ever

Ted Cruz delivers his victory speech last night
Ted Cruz delivers his victory speech last night
Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Last night, as we watched Sarah Palin bloviate on Fox News -- yes, doubtful reader, we do under highly unusual circumstances tune in to Fox News -- we were struck by something. Ted Cruz, compared to virtually every single Tea Party member on this green earth like Palin, is really damn articulate. Like, yesterday's winner of the Senate GOP runoff election against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst can string a series of cogent sentences to form something called a "thought." And do it eloquently!

Palin and her minions, meanwhile, still flounder. She took to the Greta Van Susteren show last night and, when questioned on both her recent defense of Chic-Fil-A, whose owner has come out against gay marriage, and recent criticism that she should never have run for national office, she delivered this soliloquy:

The mistake would have been me just deciding that, Hey I love my 86, 87 percent approval rating up there in Alaska as the governor moving and shaking and watching corrupt politicians and businessmen to go prison for crony capitalism. Working on 16 to 20 percent of domestic energy supplies being able to be increased via Alaska's resource development. Ethics reform legislation that I was working on -- that led to that 86 percent approval rating.

I could have decided, you know, I don't want to be blooded up, I don't want my family to go through what we will have to go through in order to put ourselves forward in the name service to this country. But I did it. It would have been a mistake to have hunkered down -- just lived that luxurious...comfortable lifestyle in Alaska...We like so many people in this country decided, we will do all that we can in order to defend our republic, put America back on track.

This is the prototypical Tea Party rhetoric, festooned with non-sequiturs and harrumphs regarding the establishment. But, Cruz, he's a smooth talker. At Princeton, where he got his undergrad before moving onto Harvard Law School, he was a champion debater. His clarity of thought -- not to mention his conservatism -- eventually landed him a position as a clerk for then U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Cruz is taking in mad props from all sides. Paul Burka, Texas Monthly's executive editor, said Cruz is "by far the most talented person in Texas politics (not the highest of bars to clear.)" The New York Times published an article today touting Cruz as an "intellectual force." And keep in mind, these are liberal publications. When was the last time any ever deployed the word "intellectual" to describe Palin et al except for when the prefix "anti" introduced it?

These are strange times in the Texas politics. Gov. Rick Perry, who endorsed Dewhurst, was just out-conservatived, and the Tea Party representative who did it isn't in the Michele Bachmann ilk -- but Harvard's. Someone who doesn't just inundate the airwaves with anti-taxation drivel, but can name the academic who helped originate the economic theory.

"We should take it as a providential sign, that today would be the 100th birthday of Milton Friedman," Cruz said in his victory speech yesterday. "A true champion of liberty and we are walking in Uncle Milton's footsteps."

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