(New York Times) -- ENOUGH, for one week at least, about the strange victories of Donald Trump. Let’s talk about the mysteries of his last real competitor, Ted Cruz.
On the surface, Cruz is a straightforward figure: The ideological zealot, the politician-as-activist, the unbending embodiment of True Conservatism. He’s the scourge of Obamacare, the bane of the G.O.P. establishment, the evangelical moralist with a flat-tax plan and a Reagan quote for every occasion. If Trump has dynamited Republican orthodoxy and tapped out nasty tweets from the rubble, Cruz has kept pace by promising to rebuild that same orthodoxy stronger than before.
In this framing, Cruz is basically Barry Goldwater come again, an ideological crusader who might still grab his party’s nomination, but whose general election prospects are limited by his own extremism.
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I’ve used this framing myself, and it might be the best way to approach a Hillary-Cruz race. But it also seems inadequate to understanding Cruz’s strange ascent.