Paul Waldman | The Week | December 13, 2014
Ted Cruz never says anything good just once — when he finds a line or a joke that gets applause, he repeats it over and over. And one of his big crowd-pleasers at the moment is this little ditty about the Islamic State: “We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out!”
In front of audiences that want to know who’s going to be most ruthless in fighting those terrible terrorists that are terrifying us, it never fails. And it reflects prevailing Republican sentiment, which says that ISIS hasn’t been defeated only because Barack Obama is weak, and with the application of enough force, this problem can be solved.
Just last week, I praised Cruz for being nearly alone among the Republican candidates (Rand Paul joins him in this) in realizing the pitfalls of nation-building. He has said repeatedly that it’s a bad idea for us to go in and occupy a place like Syria in the hopes that we can create a thriving and peaceful democracy there, and that if we were to depose Bashar al-Assad, the vacuum created by his departure would likely be filled by a theocratic regime. But Cruz’s apparent willingness to entertain the idea of unintended consequences obviously has its limits.