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Does Ted Cruz Actually Think He Can Win in 2016?

“I am running for president and I hope to earn your support,” Ted Cruz tweeted just after midnight last night. Hold onto your horses? Not so fast.

Read: Samuel Alito Is The Insurrectionist Threat To Democracy On The Supreme Court

Cruz will make himself the Republican Party’s 2016 frontrunner today when he officially announces his candidacy for president, if only because he will be the only Republican actually running for president, at least for a day or two.

It is a status not likely to endure long, if only for Cruz’s extreme positions on nearly every topic of importance, from domestic to foreign, from economy to war. In all these areas, Ted Cruz is not only America’s worst enemy, but his own.

Amy Kremer, formerly of the Tea Party Express, can say that Cruz “will excite the base in a way we haven’t seen in years,” but from the perspective of non-ideologically blinkered, it is difficult to imagine what Ted Cruz thinks might make him an attractive presidential candidate.

Or even a legal candidate, given his Canadian birth and all the fuss his own party has raised over Barack Obama’s birth. Even Forbes has taken note of Tea Party hypocrisy where Cruz’s birth is concerned. But this is just one problem out of many for Cruz.

We already know that each and every Republican loses to Hillary Clinton in polls – repeatedly. We already know from past elections that extremism does not sell in presidential races. You can win locally as a racist, as a neo-Confederate, as a secessionist or immigrant- or he-man-woman-hater, but you don’t get to the White House that way.

So what will Ted Cruz, an extremist’s extremist, be thinking, when he announces today at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, that he is running for President in 2016?

Neither party likes him. He has angered Republicans and Democrats alike with his grandstanding. And if Rand Paul’s father, Ron Paul, is a liability, how much more so will be Cruz’s religious extremist father, the self-appointed Educator-in-Chief for the American Negro?

Julian Zelizer a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a New America fellow, makes the point in a CNN op-ed, that Cruz “has spent much of his short career in Washington blasting the “mushy middle” of his party (which might be news to most Democrats).”

That is indeed a surprise. After all, Cruz is hardly the only Republican in the 114th Congress who wants to eliminate the Department of Education and the IRS. This “mushy middle” is in reality a group of extremists themselves. Their only failing, apparently, is that they’re not as extreme as the Cuban Anarchist.

Zelizer compares Cruz to Barry Goldwater, whose defeat in 1964 gave rise to a movement that led eventually to Falwell’s Moral Majority, and then the Religious Right. It’s an apt comparison. Goldwater’s “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice no virtue,” brought him defeat.

Indicative of the Republican inability to learn from defeat, Zelizer writes that, “Although Goldwater was clearly wrong when he ran in 1964, Cruz thinks that the times have changed.” What is difficult about analyzing his chances is that NONE of the potential 2016 Republican contenders is a moderate.

Jeb Bush is always put forward as contrast to people like Cruz, and Zelizer does it himself, but Jeb Bush is a guy who, as Right Wing Watch has pointed out, “endorsed a Georgia religious discrimination measure that is so extreme that the state’s former GOP attorney general, who once defended bans on gay sex at the Supreme Court, came out against it.”

Bush said from the steps of the Georgia Statehouse, “I don’t know about the law, but religious freedom is a serious issue, and it’s increasingly so, and I think people that act on their conscience shouldn’t be discriminated against, for sure.”

Words that put him on a par with Cruz for religious extremism. In other words, we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that Ted Cruz is uniquely unsuited to the White House. Yes, Governor Jerry Brown of California singled him out in calling him “unfit” for the White House, but most Democrats probably recognize Bush’s own unsuitability, due more to being a Dubya redux, than to his religiously fueled bigotry.

But if Bush will give us a war because he is all essential ways his brother, so, too, will Cruz, as Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski pointed out. It isn’t that Cruz is a religious bigot and Bush is a warmonger and Chris Christie is corrupt. Rather all those weaknesses exist in each and every Republican contender.

There isn’t a lot to choose between them, whatever public perceptions tell us. The difference is that people like Bush and Rand Paul make an attempt to sound moderate, while Cruz has no filter on what comes out of his mouth.

Zelizer notes that, “This coming election will be tough for Republicans. As all the experts have shown, the electoral college math does not favor the GOP. Some experts have predicted that Democrats have over an 80% chance of winning the Electoral College.”

Which is, of course, why Republicans are fiddling with the Electoral system in Red States, in the hopes of jury-rigging a Republican victory in 2016 out of a losing vote count. And why not? They have proven they can do it, and our current 114th Congress is proof of that.

The conclusion Zelizer comes to is that,

Monday, Cruz will bask in the spotlight of his announcement. But Republicans are going to have to really think hard about whether they want to put all of their electoral eggs in this volatile basket which, at least based on the history, has a very slim chance of winning.

It won’t be me, it won’t be the liberal media, it won’t be Cruz’s birth or the mainstream media that is Cruz’s biggest enemy as we march toward the Republican primaries. It will be Ted Cruz himself, as he struggles to identify with more than his extremist base on virtually any issue at all.

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