The quality of mercy is not strained

Senator Ted Cruz (R - Texas) discusses federal government shutdown in Richmond, Virginia

Yet another reason to hate ambitious prosecutors — even though you probably already hated this one:

In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years.

Eventually, the mistake came to light and Haley tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.

Some justices were skeptical. “Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?” Justice Anthony Kennedy asked. The court system did finally let Haley out of prison, after six years.

The case reveals something interesting about Cruz’s character. Ted Cruz is now running strongly among evangelical voters, especially in Iowa. But in his career and public presentation Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace. Cruz’s behavior in the Haley case is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy.

Traditionally, candidates who have attracted strong evangelical support have in part emphasized the need to lend a helping hand to the economically stressed and the least fortunate among us. Such candidates include George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, far right, highlighted his background — the son of a bartender and a maid — during the Kemp Forum in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday. Mr. Rubio also noted that Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, sitting next to him, understood the challenges of struggling Americans, with a father who delivered mail.

But Cruz’s speeches are marked by what you might call pagan brutalism. There is not a hint of compassion, gentleness and mercy. Instead, his speeches are marked by a long list of enemies, and vows to crush, shred, destroy, bomb them. When he is speaking in a church the contrast between the setting and the emotional tone he sets is jarring.

Cruz lays down an atmosphere of apocalyptic fear. America is heading off “the cliff to oblivion.” After one Democratic debate he said, “We’re seeing our freedoms taken away every day, and last night was an audition for who would wear the jackboot most vigorously.”

4 thoughts on “The quality of mercy is not strained

  1. You know who I hate more than Cruz? David Brooks.

    “Pagan brutalism”? srsly?

    And Huckabee and Santorum – who want to destroy PP – they’re “values” aren’t harmful??

    Brooks is simply not fit to read and I couldn’t agree less with this article – Yes Cruz is evil but the wingnuts are ALL the same.

  2. It turns out that slimeball Cruz may be ineligible to run for POTUS after all. His mother may not have been a US citizen at the time of his birth. (We know that is father wasn’t.) Flolrida congressman Alan Grayson is investigating this. Send him $$$ — it’s a good investment in the future of our country.

  3. For God’s sake, whoever thought that evangelical Xtians practiced Christian values! Blaspheming Antichrists.

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