There is no shortage of impeachment-centric podcasts out there nowadays, given the interest that political junkies have in the current kerfuffle. It helps, of course, if the podcast is hosted by a lawyer. While it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to even-handed analysis, it also helps if the lawyer is involved in the impeachment process.
Lo and behold, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has stepped into the gap. He’s currently hosting a post-trial analysis show with the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles. (The Verge, Vox’s tech-centric publication, had apparently never heard of the guy, so they described him as “a stupendously softball interviewer.” They either don’t get that Knowles is supposed to serve as the Ed McMahon to Cruz’s Johnny Carson or are under the impression that anyone in the same room as Cruz should be grilling him about the numerous perfidies they think Cruz commits every time he opens his mouth. Whatever.)
“Verdict with Ted Cruz” is only a few episodes old — and given the fact that the trial will be over quickly, it’ll pretty much be a miniseries at best — but Cruz has already made some trenchant arguments that should interest everyone not in the employ of The Verge.
In fact, as The Blaze pointed out, Cruz managed to expose one of the oldest lawyer tricks in the book in episode five.
When Knowles asked if Cruz thought the Democrats had been deceptive during the trial, the senator responded in the affirmative.
Cruz argued Democratic House managers “were deceptive using lots of different tools” and then broke that claim down.
“Here’s a particular logical construct that the House managers used to be deceptive. They used this several times, and it’s a logical construct of ‘X, not Y,'” Cruz said.
What’s that? Well, here’s Cruz on the construct:
“They say, for example, that ‘President Trump and Republicans bought the narrative that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election.’ Now in that model, X is right; Ukraine did interfere in 2016. The lie, the deception, is the ‘not Y,” he said.
Cruz added that “it is obvious Russia … did interfere in 2016. … That happened, that was real and anyone who looks at the evidence recognizes that. But the fact that Russia did doesn’t mean no other country did.”
“It’s true that the Republicans are saying that Ukraine interfered, but it’s not true that Republicans are also saying ‘therefore, Russia did not interfere.'” Knowles said.
“And it would be false,” Cruz responded, “if we said ‘Russia did not interfere,’ that’s a false statement.”
However, the deception goes far beyond that.
“What the House managers said over and over and over again is: ‘The president wanted the announcement of an investigation and not an actual investigation,'” Cruz said.
“X, and not Y. So, there’s lots of evidence Trump wanted an investigation announced. There is zero evidence that Trump didn’t want an actual investigation. And the House managers asserted over and over and over again ‘an announcement, and not an actual investigation.’ They’ve never cited any evidence whatsoever. And by the way, think about it: In what universe would Trump not want an investigation?”
“The Democrats’ trick here is that they’re making a true statement and they’re using the true statement to cover up for the false statement that they say immediately afterward,” Knowles said.
“Yes … the media does this all the time,” Cruz responded. “‘You’re saying Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered.’ No, no, that’s not what we’re saying.”
“That logical construct, ‘X and not Y,’ is a real giveaway that they’re engaging in lawyerly sleight of hand.”
And this is one of Schiff’s go-to tricks, according to Cruz.
“By the way,” he said, “Adam Schiff says it very smoothly, he says it smiling. And to date, I haven’t seen anyone actually contradicting it and pointing out that half of that sentence is total deception.”
“That’s an incredibly deceptive trick,” Knowles said.
“There’s a reason lawyers are so beloved,” a grinning Cruz replied.
So, in short: Schiff is explaining what we already know, that Trump wanted an investigation into Ukrainian corruption. He hasn’t proven — nor can the Democrats prove — this wasn’t going to be an actual investigation into corruption in Ukraine, which was a serious problem. Don’t expect them to prove this, since they have no intention of doing so. They’re perfectly happy with leaving things as they are.
This is why Republicans should be happy Ted Cruz is around. As much as I love the Texas Republican, even I’ll admit this much: He’s not traditionally likable in the way a politician is. This is not a guy who’s going to give a stump speech full of bromides like, “I love this country! I love the opportunity it provides! I love freedom! I love apple-rhubarb pie, a good football game and big-headed babies! I love my wife! Almost as much as I love America!”
This is a man whose attempt at that sort of humanization is to remind us at every opportunity that he loves “The Princess Bride.” Which, don’t get me wrong, is an amazing movie, but Hollywood has made plenty of other acerbic films that work on multiple levels in the 33 years since that movie debuted and maybe displaying some love for at least one of them might have helped his cause.
Forget that. Ted Cruz isn’t that kind of politician. What he does better than anyone else in the upper chamber is not only dissect logical fallacies but also manage to make the formal logic behind those fallacies accessible and engaging to the average voter.
This isn’t a surprise. Not only is Cruz an accomplished debater and litigator, this is how he got within spitting distance of the Republican nomination in 2016 in spite of the fact America was tired — long before the Iowa caucuses — of the Princess Buttercup references.
But again, never mind. Ted Cruz will take you apart. He will dismantle your argument, do it in a profoundly organized way and do it in a way a fifth-grader can understand. That’s not the easiest way to win an election, and yet he was essentially the last man standing not named Donald Trump.
Moreover, now that Trump’s been impeached and Adam Schiff is essentially the prosecution, one gets the feeling Cruz’s specific skill set is very likely to come in handy.
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