As a study of presidential debate transcripts found, Cruz speaks with the greatest complexity of all candidates running.
Ted Cruz embodies the two archetypes David Brooks has said are characteristic of great leaders. So why did Brooks just attack Cruz?
T. Elliot Gaizer: I am a longtime fan of both Brooks and Cruz. While that fandom might put me in a tiny Venn diagram, it makes sense to me: both deeply appreciate human nature. Both are exceptionally educated and well-read. Both have a profound respect for Western civilization.
In fact, I bought Brooks’ “The Social Animal” as Christmas gift for my father, and spent last weekend in Iowa volunteering for Cruz’s presidential campaign. This is why it pained me to see Brooks claim Cruz subscribes to pagan brutalism, a characterization that strikes me as not only too simplistic but blatantly untrue.
Man’s Two Adams
In Brooks’ “The Character Code,” he describes twentieth century rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik’s concept of humankind as “two Adams,” two archetypes illustrated by the different depictures of the first human in Genesis 1 and 2: a mighty, worldly, conquering Adam, and a contemplative, inward-focused Adam aware of his weaknesses. As Brooks describes the concept,
Adam One is the man of majesty who wants to be creative, who wants to seek, who wants to achieve excellence. Adam Two is the man of humility, who wants to be submissive, who wants to be part of a community, wants to submit to God, who’s conscious of the long chain of history.
Neither archetype is morally superior. “We have both of them in us,” Brooks says. “Both are willed by God and they’re never fully reconcilable.” Brooks describes Adam One as embodying an honor code originating in ancient Greece, the kind of virtues and courage ascribed to King Leonidas and Spartans at Thermopylae; Adam Two describes figures like author Dorothy Day or Mother Teresa, examples of humility and cooperation.
Great statesmen succeed in merging the two codes. “Abraham Lincoln personifies it,” explains Brooks. “Tremendously ambitious man, fighting a war, at the same time the author of the Second Inaugural, submitting, trying to merge these two [Adams].” In the modern West, the “attempt to merge these two things is what we’ve lost,” allowing the values of Adam One to crowd Adam Two out of public life.
Ted Cruz Blends Both Archetypes
I understand Brooks’ claim that Cruz replaces Christian charity with “Spartan belligerence” to mean Brooks thinks Cruz skews toward Adam One. Cruz obviously does partake in Adam One’s virtues. He has the resume: Texas senator, super lawyer, Supreme Court clerk, national debate champion, Harvard and Princeton graduate.
Cruz appeals to Adam One’s principles: he calls upon “courageous conservatives” to fight “the Washington cartel.” As I witnessed first-hand in Iowa, his well-funded campaign is the most technologically advanced and best organized in the race.
Continue reading below…