So Paul Burka noticed that Senator-elect Ted Cruz picked conservative Chip Roy as his Chief of Staff.
What I find revealing about the choice of Roy is that Cruz–who has been making noise as a potential contender for the White House in 2016–appears to be putting his chips on the tea party as the future of the Republican party. In doing so, he is aligning himself with insurgents like Rand Paul and, of course, the chief insurgent, Jim DeMint, who helped fund Cruz’s Senate race.
Is this a good bet? I’m dubious. The tea party has a lot in common with the old Ross Perot “United We Stand” bunch. These groups seldom have staying power. Granted, the Kochs’ involvement makes the tea party’s survival more likely, at least in the short run, but in the establishment almost always prevails. It may prove to be the case, though, that Cruz is so appealing that he can transcend the factionalism in the Republican party. The strength of the Republican field in 2016 is that it is filled with big names: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee. Only Rubio and Cruz qualify as fresh faces, though, and that might be where the rank-and-file look first.
Wait, let me get this straight: A conservative Republican Senator-elect, who worked at a conservative think tank, ran as a conservative, courted conservatives, and beat the overwhelming favorite establishment candidate while pledging to govern as a conservative, has now chosen…a conservative chief of staff?
Sadly, Burka misunderstanding conservatives is nothing new. The idea that conservatives truly believe in low taxes, balanced budgets, and limited government seems entirely alien to Burka. When it comes to describing inter-Republican-Party dynamics, he’s like a color-blind man trying to describe The Wizard of Oz.
And so instead of reaching the obvious conclusion, that Ted Cruz chose a conservative chief of staff because he’s a conservative, Burka prefers to envision imaginary 2016 horse-race jockeying.
I could try to explain to Burka exactly why the Tea Party exists and what it wants, but I fear it would be like trying to teach the fundamentals of optics to a dog.