Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.
Presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) talks a good game as an uncompromising conservative. But before he vowed to destroy Obamacare only to admit he may use it, before he forsook rock'n'roll—back when he was a private appellate lawyer charging $695 an hour, Cruz forcefully argued positions that contradict what he now espouses. Some examples from the Ted Cruz Wayback Machine:
Federal stimulus money
THEN: In 2009, he wrote a brief arguing that giving federal stimulus money to retired Texas teachers "will directly further the greater purpose of economic recovery for America."
NOW: Obama's economic program is "yet another rehash of the same big-government stimulus programs that have consistently failed to generate jobs."
BIG JURY AWARDS
THEN: As a lawyer, Cruz defended a $54 million jury award to a severely disabled New Mexico man who had been raped in a group home, asserting that "a large punitive damages award is justified by the need to deter conduct that is hard to detect and often goes unpunished."
NOW: Wants to spread Texas-style tort reform—which caps punitive damages at $750,000—to the rest of the nation.
The death penalty
THEN: Cruz worked on the Supreme Court case of a Louisiana man who'd been wrongfully sentenced to death, stating that prosecutorial misconduct undermined "public confidence in the criminal-justice system."
NOW: "I trust the criminal-justice system to operate, to protect the rights of the accused, and to administer justice to violent criminals."
The Hillary Clinton email kerfuffle has revealed that high-tech record-fiddling is a bipartisan phenomenon. It has also showed that for many pols hypocrisy is no reason to forego a political attack. Jeb Bush eagerly slammed HRC for her email shenanigans, despite the fact that he, too, relied upon a private server when he was governorand after leaving office vetted his gubernatorial emails before making them public. Now comes Mitt Romney. In an interview with Katie Couric of Yahoo, the failed Republican presidential candidate blasted Clinton for her (indeed problematic and rules-defying) management of the emails she sent and received as secretary of state. Romney called this "mess" an example of "Clintons behaving badly."
And he poured it on thick: "I mean, it's always something with the Clintons. Which is that they have rules which they describe before they get into something, and then they decide they don't have to follow their own rules. That I think is gonna be a real problem for her." He added: "she chose to say, 'No. I'm not gonna follow those rules and regulations. Not only am I gonna have private email, I'm gonna put the server in my house so that there's no way anyone can find out what was really said.' That is something which is going way beyond the pale."
As Tuesday's national elections in Israel neared, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was struggling to hold on to power, appeared to become more worried about his prospects and more desperate in his pitchmanship. Dropping all pretenses, he played the race card early on Election Day, posting a Facebook video with an explicit ethnic message: "Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls." The intent was obvious—to scare the hell out of right-wing and anti-Arab voters who had not yet hit the polls. This brazen move followed another brazen sop to the right. On Monday night, Netanyahu declared that if he were elected, he would never permit the establishment of a Palestinian state. With this last-minute pander, Netanyahu reversed his previous public position—announced in a 2009 speech—that he supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His back-flip was not much of a surprise. It's an indicator of what was widely suspected at home and abroad: Netanyahu never really believed in the two-state solution, which has the been the foundation of Mideast diplomatic initiatives for two decades. But this issue is bigger than Netanyahu. Conservatives in his Likud party and Republicans in the United States have played the same game for years: expressing support for the two-state solution without meaning it. Why would they do that? Because there is a strong international consensus in favor of the two-party path to peace. Those who don't buy it are not part of the mainstream debate; they're outside the tent. Consequently, many Israeli conservatives and their comrades in the United States—who truly don't want a Palestinian state—have figured out that if they mouth the words, they can gain entrance to the tent and piss away, or, at least, slyly obstruct.
In December, when a mentally ill Texas man convicted of murder was poised to be executed—and a number of prominent conservatives were calling to postpone the killing—Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) declined to criticize the pending execution. "I trust the criminal-justice system to operate, to protect the rights of the accused, and to administer justice to violent criminals," Cruz declared. This was not shocking. As a politician and public officeholder, he has long supported capital punishment. While running for Senate in 2012, Cruz repeatedly mentioned his win as Texas solicitor general in a case before the Supreme Court that preserved the death penalty for a Mexican citizen convicted of raping and murdering two Houston teenage girls.
Yet as a lawyer in private practice two years earlier, Cruz had argued that the criminal-justice system, in at least one instance, had gone awry and nearly killed the wrong man. This happened when Cruz was assisting the case of a Louisiana man wrongfully convicted of robbery and murder who spent 18 years in prison—14 of them on death row—before being freed. As an attorney for this man, Cruz argued that local prosecutors could not be trusted, that institutional failures in the justice system had nearly led to his client's execution, and that this fellow was owed $14 million in restitution because of these miscarriages of justice. But after his experience in this dramatic case—which included coauthoring a passionate brief presented to the Supreme Court—Cruz the politician would still offer a full-throated endorsement of the criminal-justice system and capital punishment.
This case began long before Cruz, fresh off his stint as Texas solicitor general, joined the Houston office of the high-powered Morgan Lewis law firm in 2008 to build its appellate and Supreme Court practice. Twenty-four years earlier, in 1984, a prominent New Orleans businessman was shot and killed outside his home. A month later John Thompson, a 22-year old African American father of two, and Kevin Freeman were arrested and charged with the murder. Afterward, Thompson was charged with attempted armed robbery that had occurred three weeks following the murder. (Thompson was arrested for the attempted theft after the father of the three victims showed them a photo of Thompson that had appeared in the newspaper in connection with the murder case and his children said they believed Thompson was the fellow who had tried to rob them.)
It is, unfortunately, an old and all-too familiar story. A Clinton, meaning Bill or Hillary, does something wrong (or possibly wrong). The media pounces; the Clinton antagonists of the right hit the warpath. Immediately, the Clinton camp and its supporters accuse the media and the conservative Clinton Hate Machine of trumping up a story to thwart the noble Clintons. Clinton spokespeople go into war-room mode. Resentful reporters grouse (privately and publicly) about the heavy-handed operators and obfuscators of Clintonland. And the right claims this latest fuss is a scandal that surpasses Watergate. Rinse, repeat.
The latest iteration of this Clinton-media dysfunctional spin cycle was triggered by the Hillary Clinton email kerfuffle that exploded last week. The Clinton camp's handling of the controversy was a sign that Hillary and her gang are stuck in the Whitewaterish 1990s when it comes to communications strategy, relying on always-be-combating tactics predicated on self-perceived persecution. It's bad news for anyone hoping that Hillary 2016 has learned from the miscalculations of the past.
Clinton's use of a private email account to conduct secretary of state business and, just as important, her failure to preserve her messages in real-time within the department's own record-keeping system were not, as Clintonites claimed, no biggie. Yes, Scott Walker had his own secret email scandal. And Jeb Bush, who tried to score political points by slamming Clinton, vetted his gubernatorial emails before releasing them to the public, while congratulating himself on his supposed devotion to transparency. (I've combed the Bush email archive for names and topics that ought to be there—and found obvious subjects absent.) So the Clinton defenders have a point when they gripe that the media is only obsessed with her email problem. But it is a small point. She was a Cabinet official. She had a duty to ensure that her records—which belong to the public, not her—would be controlled by the department, not by her private aides who operate her private server.