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Ted Cruz as a college debater

London Review of Books:

During his Princeton debating career, Cruz caused his team to lose a competition when an opponent from Yale (the future Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, as it happens) went after Cruz’s favourite talking point, about how his father emigrated from Cuba with nothing more than $100 sewn into his underwear, noting that, heroic as the tale might be, it really didn’t shed much light on the subject under discussion, the growth of the federal deficit. ‘How dare you insult my father!’

Eesh. Grab some bench, rook. The elites at play aspect (Cruz vs. Goolsbee) aside, I can't imagine a serious debater deploying ad hominem as some sort of crushing rebuttal. Not even a serious high school debater.

And I was a serious debater both in high school and college (one of the best things I've ever done, and I recommend debate to any parent with kids of the right age). I'm not sure whether Cruz is uniquely dumb -- couldn't a school like Princeton field a better team? -- or whether both debate and educational standards have deteriorated since my days of "policy debate" (essentially, brutal and protracted all-out warfare using evidence and reasoning as weapons). Both could be true, of course.

But this is awful. Says a lot about Cruz and what he thought would work for him, since he was an adult, though young, at the time.

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