Sen. Cruz through the looking glass

It was President Lyndon Johnson who once observed that, “Whenever most senators look in a mirror, they see a president.”

That undoubtedly applies to Sens. Rand Paul, Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio, but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may be the only one among them who looks in the mirror and sees Galileo.

Cruz likened himself to the Italian scientist and philosopher in a recent interview with the Texas Tribune.

“Today, the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers. It used to be (that) it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier.”

Maybe the remarks of the junior senator from Texas don’t quite fall to the level of Michele Bachmann, who once confused Concord, N.H., with Concord, Mass., as the site of the “shot heard round the world,” but they’re comparable.

Galileo was, in fact, branded a heretic by the church, but not for denying that the earth was flat. Rather, his transgression was in publishing work that claimed the earth revolved around the sun – a view that ran counter to church doctrine at the time.

The senator’s overall point was that those like him who deny climate change – or that it’s caused by human activity – are destined to be on the right side of history, as Galileo was.

Time will undoubtedly tell, but there’s no denying that Cruz is a darling of the tea party movement and was one of the architects of the 2013 two-week shutdown of the federal government that was rooted in continuous Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare.

“A fool’s errand,” Sen. John McCain correctly called it.

It’s an errand he’s still running – and running on.

“I am convinced, come 2017, a new president in the White House is going to sign legislation repealing every word of Obamacare,” he said to wild applause from a Nashua audience on Friday.

Some of his critics saw more than a little irony when Cruz last week said he expects to sign up for health care coverage under the very same Obamacare exchange he wants to eliminate.

Yet Cruz makes no apologies for targeting Obamacare or holding views that represent the extremist wing of the Republican Party. He has cast former GOP presidential nominees Mitt Romney, McCain and Bob Dole as being too moderate – a characterization that may come as a surprise to them.

It’s not that Cruz is bereft of ideas that could benefit the country. He is an ardent advocate for reforming the country’s complicated tax code. He has talked about implementing a flat tax and lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent while getting rid of most corporate deductions.

But his hardened ultra-conservative positions on social issues make him a tough sell even to many within his own party. Cruz, however, is banking on the belief that a far-right candidate like himself will bring enough extremists out of the woodwork to swing the nomination his way.

Democrats are no doubt salivating at the idea of Cruz as the GOP nominee, since his views would all but cede the moderate vote to their candidate.

We can see the Democrats’ slogan now: “Cruz and Galileo: Two great 17th century thinkers.”