I'm starting to think David Brooks doesn't much like Ted Cruz.
In December, Brooks, a gently conservative New York Times columnist, wrote that there were two kinds of Machiavellians in politics: Selfish Machiavellians and Kind Machiavellians. Cruz, he said, was a Selfish Machiavellian, who "has always stood out for being nakedly ambitious for himself."
Today, though, Brooks goes much further. In a column titled "The Brutalism of Ted Cruz," Brooks writes that "Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace"; his speeches "are marked by what you might call pagan brutalism"; his conservatism is "more like tribal, blood and soil European conservatism than the pluralistic American kind."
This column comes only a few days after Brooks told PBS that Cruz's rhetoric has "dark and Satanic tones."
It's no secret that the Republican establishment doesn't much like Cruz. But Brooks's columns help show how much that loathing is about Ted Cruz the man rather than Cruzism. Brooks doesn't have much to say about Cruz's policies, save that he's "sympathetic" to much of the Texan's platform. Instead, he blasts Cruz for his opportunism, his rhetoric, his flip-flops. It's a disgust that seems personal, though Cruz himself insists that it isn't:
Actually, I don't know him. But when I was elected he said he "didn't like my face" and now he says I'm "Satanic." https://t.co/q6kCfer178— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 12, 2016
Ideologically, Brooks is a bit of a squish, at least by the standards of today's Republican Party. But he's well-liked and well-connected within much of the Republican establishment, and so the question raised by his columns is whether it's really their loathing he's channeling. If so, it would help explain why there's been so little movement within the Republican Party to unite around Cruz as a way of stopping Donald Trump.