So says David Brooks, The NYT psuedo-Conservative columnist. Hey, he didn't need to persuade me, but I'm glad he said it anyway.
In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years.
Eventually, the mistake came to light and Haley tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.
Some justices were skeptical. “Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?” Justice Anthony Kennedy asked. The court system did finally let Haley out of prison, after six years.
The case reveals something interesting about Cruz’s character. Ted Cruz is now running strongly among evangelical voters, especially in Iowa. But in his career and public presentation Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace. Cruz’s behavior in the Haley case is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy.
Cruz and Trump seem to be the nastiest pieces of work in the unappetizing GOP field, and I would like them to be dumped by any means possible - which is why I devoutly hope that Cruz's mother turns out to have forfeited her American citizenship - but there is no doubt that they are tapping into a dominant fascist themed ethos in the Republican voter. The strength of that theme owes a lot to the decades long struggle of a few greedy billionaires to control the country, but it also owes something to the capture of the Democratic party by some of its clients.