In New York City, you find subcultures for every sexual persuasion, bars dedicated to every football team, and food from every nation on earth. Hell, you can even find a few hundred people who support Ted Cruz.
Cruz, the official candidate of Brylcreem, has in the past denigrated “New York values,” which is a phrase meaning “anal sex and then getting an abortion, even though you don’t need to.” Another New York value, though, is a laissez-faire approach to criticism. People here don’t hold grudges. Particularly if they are a certain sort of Upper East Side residents seeking a viable candidate to cut their taxes.
This morning, a line of free people stretched halfway down 51st Street and around the corner of Fifth Avenue. These people were waiting to see a novelty: a speech by Ted Cruz in New York City. Inside of the cramped event space (gold plastic chairs, heavy curtains, high ceilings, two chandeliers—cheap knockoff of the White House) several hundred sat shoulder to shoulder waiting to see if, perhaps, this smarmy Texan opportunist could be a better solution for the Republican Party than the smarmy New York opportunist they all found distasteful. The crowd was heavy on businessman types with suits tailored a little too tightly around the waist, and middle-aged women with unnaturally pouty lips who help to support our city’s thriving cosmetic surgery industry.
I sat in the back row. As the peppy chairwoman of the Manhattan Republicans began her introduction, a flood of photographers moved in my direction. Was there something behind me?
The security at this event was not very tight, which is neither here nor there.
“God bless New York,” Cruz said upon taking the stage. This seemed to differ from his previous statements, but no one rose to point it out. As he launched into his stump speech, it became clear that he had made little effort to tailor it to this particular audience.
“I want to talk to all the single moms who are here, who are working two or three jobs...” he said. The room full of Upper East Side SoulCycle aficionados who pay someone to blow-dry their hair leaned forward attentively. “I want to talk to all the truck drivers... all the men and women with calluses on your hands,” Cruz said. The room full of financiers playing hooky from work unbuttoned their suit buttons so as to allow for easier clapping. “We’re gonna rein in the EPA, and the CFPB!” Cruz thundered. In this, he had read the room correctly: no one in this crowd needed a government agency to protect their finances. They were the ones the CFPB is meant to protect people from.
Cruz name-dropped various New York Democrats, derisively. None drew a louder negative reaction than “Charlie Rangel.” What is the one quality that might make Republicans hate Charlie Rangel even more than Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Andrew Cuomo, or Bill de Blasio? I can’t think of anything.
After applause lines, Cruz would pause, and slip his lower lip over his upper lip, a tic that lends the superficial appearance of thoughtfulness but which he repeats often enough that it could qualify as obsessive-compulsive. He speaks with the exaggerated seriousness of a mediocre character actor playing a hard-nosed prosecutor on Law & Order. “Given the choice between terrorists and criminals on one side, and the brave men and women of law enforcement on the other side,” Cruz assured us, “I will stand with law enforcement every time!”
He may lose the terrorist vote, but that is the sort of uncompromising leader that he is.
One year ago today, Ted Cruz launched his campaign for president. There are many, many Republicans who despise Ted Cruz who never would have suspected one year ago that they would be desperate enough to support Ted Cruz for president today. Yet here we are. “New York—is gonna be a battleground,” he intoned at the conclusion of his speech. It sure won’t. Outside of that room on 51st street, millions of New Yorkers went about their day. They ass-fucked, gay married, did pornography, spoke profanity, and unashamedly went to mosques. But they would never, ever cast a vote for Ted Cruz. Even New York City doesn’t get that wild.