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100 Days of Trump: Ted Cruz 2.0 takes on new role with Trump in the White House

Now that Donald Trump has finally supplanted Barack Obama as master of the Oval Office, many are taking time to reflect on how, as conservatives, we got to this point – and where we go from here.

The Republican primary campaign ended almost nine months ago, yet the memories are still fresh and some of the wounds are only now beginning to heal.

It was particularly curious watching George W. Bush sit next to Hillary Clinton last Friday during the Trump and CruzInauguration ceremony – not because they’re bitter political rivals, but because they’re both figureheads of the Washington political establishment that opposed Trump so fervently last fall. It could easily be argued they have a lot more in common with each other than either has with the new president.

Within a small area on the platform sat Obama, the Clintons, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush. George H.W. Bush probably would’ve been there as well but he politely declined because sitting outside in January might “put me six feet under.”

All sat nervously as the new president delivered his address aimed straight for the heart of the Washington establishment – in essence, them – and basically railed against every single one (but not by name, thankfully) for about fifteen minutes.

Missing from the cozy little circle of past American leaders was a true conservative. That’s not to say conservatives weren’t near Trump on the dais – far from it – but some are now worrying with Trump as president that the movement lacks a recognizable and passionate leader.

It’s a role Ted Cruz played in the primary campaign and during his first four years as the junior senator from Texas. But now that Trump has effectively removed the possibility of the presidency from Cruz’s grasp for eight if not sixteen years (with Mike Pence waiting in the wings to succeed him), observers are seeing a “new” Cruz who is not only working on Trump’s behalf in the Senate, it almost looks like Ted’s joined the establishment in promoting the new Republican president.

Tim Alberta writes in Politico Magazine, “Having spent four years as a scourge of the establishment—and, in spite of that, having come closer to the party's nomination than anyone could have predicted—Cruz is betting that removing the rough edges will make him a better legislator, a more respected member of the party and a likelier future president. He knows the risks involved, but believes they are outweighed by the opportunity at hand, both for the party and for himself. He recognizes the things he has fought for (repealing Obamacare, securing the border, rolling back regulations, nominating conservative jurists) are now within the party's grasp, and he realizes the knocks against him (self-serving, ineffective) are potent enough to derail any future presidential campaign.

“If ever there were a time for putting his conservative credibility on the line and protecting the interests of the Republican Party, it’s now. Even if that means allying himself with President Donald Trump, a man he has called a ‘sniveling coward,’ a ‘pathological liar,’ and—a more potent Cruz insult—a ‘big-government liberal.’”

Alberta’s lengthy article details the internal strife that remains in Cruz’s inner circle, with the #NeverTrump contingent still angry that Ted eventually got on board the Trump train and his more pragmatic aides counseling him to work closer with party leadership to accomplish something.

It’s true, ever since ending his presidential run last May Cruz has seemed like a changed man with many people even labelling his metamorphosis as “Cruz 2.0”.

Being chummy with his colleagues in the Senate will not only help Cruz be more effective in leading the charge to pass Trump’s major agenda items, it will also benefit him with his reelection bid next year. As for getting along with the president, that’s a no-brainer. If Ted continued on his scorched-earth campaign against all elements of the establishment he’d find enemies on three sides – the Democrats, Senate GOP leadership and Trump.

The rebellious conservative Republican contingent simply lacks the numbers to go it alone. Mike Lee was one of the most ardent #NeverTrumpers up through Election Day but it’s rumored he’s being seriously considered for the Supreme Court vacancy. And fellow presidential candidate Rand Paul has also signaled a willingness to work with Trump on his agenda and confirming his cabinet nominees.

So while it can be argued there is no single conservative “leader” in the Senate (in the mold of Jim DeMint) at present, I think it’s clear conservatives will still be represented.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, another rumor is circulating that Trump is narrowing his choices and there may even be a clear frontrunner now. Kevin Daley of the Daily Caller reports, “Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals may be the leading candidate for President Donald Trump’s first appointment to the Supreme Court...

“With sterling academic credentials and the reputation of an incisive and thoughtful jurist, Gorsuch is seen by many as a safer pick for the appointment than Judge William Pryor, a conservative stalwart on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and favorite of Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions. Though Gorsuch is also reliably conservative, his scholastic streak may make him a more palatable nominee for wary Senate Democrats, who have pledged all-out resistance to an unacceptable candidate.”

There’s going to be all-out resistance regardless of who Trump ultimately picks to replace the late Antonin Scalia because, as they’ve proven all throughout the cabinet nominee confirmation process, the Democrats are all about putting on a good show instead of serving as the loyal opposition.

Trump must be more politically calculating in selecting his Supreme Court pick as Republicans will need to meet the higher 60-vote threshold to break a Democrat filibuster. Perhaps choosing a relative unknown like Gorsuch will alleviate some of the Democrat grandstanding…but I doubt it.

President Trump is now official yet his cabinet confirmations remain in limbo

The election is over. The transition is over. The inauguration is over…and yet it doesn’t appear that we’re any closer to allowing Donald Trump to fill out his administration with his cabinet appointees.

By the looks of it, Democrats will stretch out the process for weeks if not months.

Susan Crabtree of the Washington Examiner reports, “Democrats have the power to muck up the works in the Senate by slow-walking nominees, and have vowed to do so to target eight of Trump's Cabinet picks for special scrutiny…

“Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., suggested the slow-walking plan is at least partially payback for Republicans' blocking consideration of President Obama's Supreme Court choice Merrick Garland for 11 months last year, as well as their decision to drag out the confirmation for Attorney General Loretta Lynch for more than a year.”

The stonewalling apparently won’t apply to CIA nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo or Transportation designee Elaine Chao, however. It’s particularly interesting that the Democrats are letting Chao by unscathed, probably because she’s Mitch McConnell’s wife and if they made a fuss over her they’d suffer for it as part of the Majority Leader’s revenge.

But for the rest of Trump’s appointments, it’s come down to purely politics. Democrats don’t want someone who’s going to ditch Obamacare and replace it with something that works, so they prop up insider trading charges against Tom Price. Similarly they’re afraid Jeff Sessions will actually start enforcing the laws, so they claim he’s against civil rights. It goes on and on and on.

The Democrats’ demeanor on Senate confirmations reminds me of a bunch of middle school students plotting to exclude a rival group’s members from the lunch room because of a prior confrontation over the classroom seating chart.

For example, they’re supposedly holding up Budget Director Mick Mulvaney’s confirmation because of the congressman’s failure to pay taxes on a nanny, comparing it to the situation of former Senator Tom Daschle who was delinquent on paying taxes for a limo service.

Daschle withdrew his nomination because of it. It’s not like Republicans voted him down or delayed his vote over the matter. Shouldn’t the Democrats at least allow votes to take place? How much paperwork is going to be required before they’ll relent on confirmations? More importantly, what do they hope to gain by delay?

I highly doubt Americans are going to turn against Trump’s nominees – at least the part of the public that supports Trump.

Naturally the Democrats’ actions are laying the groundwork for a contentious two years. James Arkin of Real Clear Politics reports, “The limited confirmation votes sent signals that, with major legislative battles looming and a Supreme Court nomination likely in the coming weeks, the Senate could soon become mired in partisan bickering and slow-moving deliberation…

“Beyond the Cabinet, however, the Senate will have to confirm approximately 1,200 other administration appointees, consider a Supreme Court nomination, begin the arduous process of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and start work on various legislative priorities. Because the Senate moves slowly and time for floor debate is a precious commodity, Sen. Ben Sasse, a conservative Nebraska Republican who often opposed Trump during the campaign, said Schumer and Democrats could essentially hold the Senate hostage if they want.”

Hostage is a good word to describe it. Democrats can’t actually stop any of the confirmations unless several Republicans cross the aisle, which doesn’t look to be happening. So they’re basically just putting on the brakes – because they can.

Republicans are predicting they’ll pay a political price for the tactics. Because Americans tend to have short memories for these things, that remains to be seen. But there’s little doubt things aren’t getting off to a good start just days after Trump took over the presidency.

A man of action -- Trump keeps his word on three key concerns of conservatives

While everyone knows the Senate is going to be a thorn in Donald Trump’s side, there are some things he can accomplish without the say-so of the intransigent Democrats just up the road in the Capitol building.

He did so on Monday.

Jordan Fabian of The Hill reports, “President Trump signed an executive order on Monday announcing his plan to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal…

“The president also signed two other executive actions: one that places a hiring freeze on non-military federal workers and another that cuts off federal funding for foreign organizations that provide abortions.”

Boom, boom, boom. With three strokes of the presidential pen Trump kept three of his key promises from last year’s campaign. Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus were at Trump’s side as he did the work. Whoever thought such a simple action could bring about such sweeping policy change within the span of a minute?

Trump’s ditching of the TPP even won him praise from an unexpected source. “’I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone,’ said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a former presidential candidate. ‘Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.’”

I wonder if that means Sanders will now help get Trump’s trade team through the Senate? I doubt it.

But there’s already much evidence that Trump was serious throughout the campaign when he said he wanted to act quickly on trade, shrinking the federal workforce (and moving towards a balanced budget) and ending federal funding for abortions.

The last item is not trivial. Conservatives have wanted the policy put back in place ever since Obama ended it with an executive order of his own. Now it’s done.

Trump doesn’t appear to be the least bit hesitant to alter accepted practice. He’s only been in office for a few days but already there’s been a big change from the previous Oval Office occupant.

The same goes for relations with the press.

Pete Kasperowicz of the Washington Examiner reports, “The White House for years has deferred to newswires and major TV networks, all of whom are represented in the first row of the White House briefing room, for the first several questions at the daily briefing. But on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer called on very different group of reporters.

“He first called on the New York Post. Then, the Christian Broadcasting Network. That was followed by Univision and Fox Business.

“Spicer then took a question from Urban Radio Network, and then finally the Associated Press, which up until now has usually gotten the first question.”

Before the liberals go into a total meltdown, Spicer eventually gave a question to CNN. They just had to wait their turn.

All this nonsense about an “independent” press is just that. With today’s mainstream media there’s little objectivity and desire to report the facts without the taint of the writer’s opinions. If the big news outlets now have to move to the back of the line, so be it.

There’s a new leader in town. Get used to it, liberals.

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I am glad Cruz is now supporting Trump along with another good Texan or two. This would be Sen. Cornyn and Gov. Perry. While I have been trying to follow Sen. Cornyn more closely especially as Sen.Marjority whip, I am still a little behind even though I am on his mailing list. Anyway, if these gentlemen work with Mitch Mc. maybe things will get done post haste.

George H.W. Bush

Former president George H. W. Bush was not present at the inauguration primarily because he was residing in an intensive care unit in a hospital in Houston, Texas, or so all the news outlets with any credibility have reported.