President Barack Obama isn’t the first executive who faced the wrath of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Cruz’s first effort to battle what he saw as an abuse of presidential power came during his college days and it involved his anger over a ban on beer kegs.
In 1991, while he was a student at Princeton, Cruz wrote a scathing op-ed slamming the school’s president for allegedly attempting to run the university by “personal edict.”
It’s similar to the approach Cruz, who is widely expected to run for president in 2016, employed last month after President Barack Obama issued executive orders that will shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Cruz has responded to Obama’s immigration actions by leading a group of Republicans who are threatening a government shutdown over what he has described as “executive amnesty.” He also penned an op-ed for Politico criticising Obama’s actions as an undemocratic “presidential temper tantrum.”
“If he acts by executive diktat, President Obama will not be acting as a president, he will be acting as a monarch,” Cruz wrote.
Cruz’s first op ed raging against an alleged abuse of executive power was published in October took in the pages of the Daily Princetonian. In it, Cruz, who was a member of the class of 1992 and the student government’s U-Council, took Princeton President Harold Shapiro to task for allegedly failing to seek input from the community when he made controversial decisions to confer an honorary degree on President George H.W. Bush and to ban beer kegs from the campus.
“‘Don’t get excited,’ admonished President Harold T. Shapiro in Monday’s meeting of the U-Council,” began Cruz. “Concerns over the procedure followed in instituting the ‘keg ban’ were irrelevant to the discussion, as were inquiries as to the exclusion of student and faculty input on the awarding of Bush’s honorary degree.”
Cruz, who, as an adult, served in the administration of Bush’s son, President George W. Bush, noted he did not oppose the decision to confer the degree. However, he argued Shapiro “circumvented” a “lengthy discussion” process typically involved in the decision to award honorary degrees.
“While I personally agree with Bush’s receiving a diploma, Shapiro’s actions blatantly violated the spirit of the honorary degree process,” Cruz wrote in his op ed.
Cruz concluded by urging other members of the Princeton community to get fired up about Shapiro’s conduct.
“‘Don’t get excited,’ Shapiro says. He’s the President, and his edicts should be law. Yet that is not the way one responsibly runs a university,” wrote Cruz. “There are many established procedures and elected bodies which exist precisely to make decisions affecting the entire community. When Shapiro ignores them it doesn’t excite him — but it should excite us.”
Cruz clearly knew how to argue in person as well as in the pages of the school newspaper.
In addition to his work in student government, Cruz was a star debater who, along with his friend David Panton was part of the country’s top ranked team in 1992. He and his fellow debate team members taught classes on public speaking for their fellow students.
They also sometimes competed against each other, though it seems they didn’t exactly enjoy the experience. In an October 1991 article in the Daily Princetonian, a student named Adam Erlich was quoted describing the experience of defeating Cruz and Panton in the finals of the University of Pennsylvania debate tournament.
“Beating Ted and Dave was like eating lead paint. It was sweet in the mouth but poisonous in the bloodstream,” Erlich said. “What I mean is that the thrill of victory was mine but I also suffered the agony of defeat having beaten a Princeton team in the process.”
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