Inside the Beltway: Cruz control

Hispanic voters soon may wonder whether the Democratic Party is friend or foe if the treatment of Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas is any gauge. “Rubio-ridicule, Cruz-hatred” reads the headline at Powerline, where analyst Paul Mirengoff notes that Democrats have made Mr. Rubio “the butt of bottle jokes,” and just plain vilified Mr. Cruz. The party is getting jittery about the pair, the analyst says, and now seeks to slow their political momentum.

Mr. Cruz himself is watching all this.

“Democrats and the media are afraid of Marco Rubio because he is a smart, intelligent, conservative Hispanic. They are looking for any excuse they can to attack him, because that threatens them,” Mr. Cruz told reporters during a recent tour of an Austin, Texas, gun manufacturer.

Powerline’s Mr. Mirengoff, meanwhile, says the Lone Star State lawmaker has gumption and ability. Mr. Cruz is, after all, the former solicitor general of Texas who penned more than 80 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and personally argued 40 oral arguments, including nine before the Supreme Court itself.

“Is Cruz under attack because he’s Hispanic? Not at all, and I assume he doesn’t believe otherwise. Cruz is under attack because he’s out-debating Democrats and making the likes of Chuck Hagel look bad. The Dems are used to dealing with Republicans who don’t forcefully take them on in debate or who, though willing to engage, have difficulty making well-thought-out arguments,” Mr. Mirengoff observes, adding, “Cruz is something new in town, and the Dems don’t like it.”

DEMOCRATS IN A RUSH

They want legislation, they want it now, and likely faster than a speeding bullet. “Fully 71 percent of Democrats say it is essential for Congress and the president to act on gun legislation this year, while an additional 18 percent say it can be done in the next few years; just 9 percent of Democrats say it should not be done,” reports a new Pew Research Center survey released Thursday.

The Grand Old Party is not in such a hurry: “53 percent say no action should be taken at all on gun legislation,” the pollster reports.

STAMP MANIA

Vermont-based ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s is the home of flavors like “Chubby Hubby,” along with unabashed progressive activism. Their newest agenda: the company is asking patrons to stamp dollar bills with political phrases to promote campaign finance reform, says ice cream guru Ben Cohen. He pines for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirming “that corporations are not people, and money is not free speech, and that, in fact, huge donations by corporations, super PACs, and the super wealthy drown out the voice of ordinary Americans.”

But on to the stamps. Ben and Jerry’s will sell rubber stamps at cost, bearing mottos like “Not to be used for bribing politicians” that can be legally stamped onto paper currency.

“This is a petition on steroids. The average dollar that is stamped gets seen by over 800 people,” Mr. Cohen reasons. “If one person stamped five bills a day for a year, that would result in a million-and-a-half impressions. If 1,000 people did that, it would be a billion-and-a-half over the next two years. It’s economic jiujitsu, using money to get money out of politics.”

THE ROVE OBSESSION

Is Karl Rove bashing getting stale? Maybe. Democratic aggression and voter outreach is strong. The 2014 clock already is ticking. The Republican Party must soothe the legitimate gripes of tea partyers and traditional conservatives over Mr. Rove’s much ballyhooed Conservative Victory Project — and move forward. There’s lots to be done, and Mr. Rove could be part of it, some say.

“Though I’m far from sanguine about the ability of his new group to steer the GOP back to control of the Senate, he doesn’t deserve the abuse he has been getting lately any more than he really merited the god-like manner with which some wrote about him in the years prior to 2012,” says Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary magazine.

“Whatever the state of Rove’s current fortunes, this tells us nothing about how he or the party will do in 2014 or 2016. Republicans should welcome any group, including that of Rove, aimed at helping them win elections. But that makes him just one voice among many seeking to help influence events. Liberals may want to hold onto Rove as a right-wing boogey man, but conservatives need to stop obsessing about him and the mythical establishment he represents,” Mr. Tobin says. “If they are to win again, they will need all they help they can get — even from the likes of Rove.”

OSCARNOMICS

The Academy Awards tends to be overproduced and politically tinged; where else would liberal darlings Barbra Streisand and Jane Fonda appear on the same stage? Both are presenters this year. Still, the event is an economic powerhouse, earning $130 million for Los Angeles and $89 million for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But there are hidden costs for things peculiar to Tinseltown. Among the many expenses for the single night, this according to the Hollywood Reporter:

$1.5 million for copyright and trademark protection, $1 million for the stage set, $250,000 for security personnel; $240,000 for event staff; $45,000 for 50 24-karat gold-plated Oscar statuettes; $25,000 for the red carpet; $20,000 for gourmet chocolates and $10,000 on the winners’ hand-addressed, gold-embossed envelopes,

POLL DU JOUR

• 50 percent of Americans say controlling gun ownership is more important than protecting gun owner rights; 73 percent of Democrats agree.

• 46 percent overall say protecting owner rights is more important; 74 percent of Republicans agree.

• 46 percent overall say new gun legislation is “essential this year”; 19 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats agree.

• 29 percent say the legislation “should not be done” at all; 53 percent of Republicans and 9 percent of Democrats agree.

• 21 percent say the legislation should be done in “the next few years”; 24 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center/USA Today poll of 1,504 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 13 to 18.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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