Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, who has led the tea party wing of Republicans in Congress in their effort to defund Obamacare, is an intelligent and principled debater, says his old Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
Appearing Tuesday on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live,” Dershowitz called the Texas Republican “one of the sharpest students I had, in terms of analytic skills. I’ve had 10,000 students over my 50 years at Harvard . . . He has to qualify among the brightest of the students.”
Although some in his own party have accused him of grandstanding, Cruz deeply believes in what he is doing, Dershowitz said. Cruz made intelligent points and won debates constantly in his class – including winning debates with professors, Dershowitz said.
Former economic adviser to President Barack Obama, Austan Goolsbee, appearing on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” on Tuesday, said much the same thing about his former Harvard classmate.
“I think Democrats would make a big mistake to underestimate him,” Goolsbee said. “I think he’s very smart.”
“He deeply believes what he’s doing,” Dershowitz said. “I don’t think of him so much as a tactical or strategic thinker. He’s deeply principled.”
Cruz believes he’s doing the right thing, Dershowitz said, though he said that doesn’t mean he’s always right.
“And he’s very hard to get off that principled argument. I saw that years ago when he was a student,” Dershowitz said. Cruz was not a compromiser and didn’t care about making friends by accepting what was considered politically correct.
“If you want to defeat Ted Cruz,” Dershowitz said, “you have to appeal to his principles, not to his tactics.”
That said, Dershowitz thinks his former student has gone too far in pushing for defunding the Affordable Care Act. Republicans successfully tied the effort to the 2014 fiscal year federal funding. An impasse with Obama and Democrats in the House and Senate led to a partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1 and to a looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling by Thursday.
But Cruz’s actions raise serious constitutional questions “of the kind that Ted Cruz should be interested in,” Dershowitz said. “Can you imagine [Alexander] Hamilton and [James] Madison sitting around and drafting the Constitution and the Federalist Papers?
“They’re talking about how the government has to pay its debts, how it has to secure the credit of the United States . . . Nobody, in a million years, would have contemplated the power of Congress to shut down the government to create doubts about our credit-worthiness,” Dershowitz said.