Ted Cruz wants to be popular. Why is it so bad? – Texas Monthly

The list of things one might have respect for Senator Ted Cruz for is short. On some level, I think he knows. (He’s smart, isn’t he? Everyone insists he’s smart!) I think that’s why he often tries to gain some reluctant goodwill by playing a good sport, like when he accepted the meme that he was the zodiac killer, or when he played offered his impressions of The Simpsons to BuzzFeed. He sat down for interviews with me three times! Back in the more forgiving pre-Trump years, he was on Stephen Colbert’s show and Seth Meyers’; he played basketball (in fashion) with Jimmy Kimmel. And on Monday he went on the ABC talk show View.

You might think daytime television would be a relatively sweet place to promote a book, even if that book is Cruz’s latest, Corrupt Justice: How the Left Armed Our Justice System. But the quintet of close ladies who received Cruz have made fun of him many times over the years, and while their politics vary somewhat, they are generally anti-Trump and pro-January 6 committee. That Trump would somehow try to thwart the committee’s subpoena was, in fact, what they were talking about before Cruz joined them. I can’t prove, but I suspect whoever booked Cruz knew he was putting the senator in the lionesses’ den. Cruz must have known it too.

For starters, Ana Navarro referenced her reception at the Astros-Yankees game in New York on Sunday night (“Go back to Cancún!” was the the most beautiful thing the crowd yelled at her.) Her appearance ended with Whoopi Goldberg interrupting one of Cruz’s mid-sentence Trump defenses to wave a copy of her book to the audience and tell them, apologetically, “You get a copy.” It was briefly interrupted by climate protesters; since everyone on stage ignored them, it was probably the least hostile exchange of the hour.

I don’t think he answered a single question. Sara Haines asked what he would say to “voters who say expect economic cycles. . . but is it fundamentally un-American that a woman’s rights can fluctuate from state to state? His answer was about inflation. Alyssa Farah Griffin, Trump’s former White House aide, asked him if Joe Biden’s election was legitimate. Cruz said, “Biden is the president.”

When Navarro played a clip of Cruz slamming Trump for insulting his wife in 2016 and asking him, “Were you lying then, or are you lying now?”, Cruz said he had a responsibility to voters to “do my job” no matter who was on the job. That’s a great answer, though it’s claimed more credibly by a number of elected officials who define their job as something other than “making Trump happy at all costs.” (He also said, “I’ll tell you, Heidi laughed” when Trump rebuked her. Just us people who can crack a joke here!)

Most of the questions were about Cruz whipping Trump. Even Republican Griffin stood up to the fire (“I made peace with those decisions,” she noted contritely). She followed her admission that she backed Cruz in 2016 with a sharp contrast between her lip service to the Constitution and her complicity in seeking to overturn the 2020 election: “How,” she said. asked, “Can you agree with an undemocratic action of trying to disenfranchise eighty million voters? (His non-response: “Read the chapter [in my book] January 6th. “)

I find myself wanting to give Cruz credit for withstanding the onslaught when he sits down in enemy territory like this – but, then, that’s exactly what he wants. It’s his calculation when he accepts these invitations. At some point, such schemes stop being signs that you’re capable of taking a punch and start looking more like slip-and-fall insurance fraud.

His glued smile did not falter. His body language conveyed the practiced casualness of someone working on these things in front of a mirror. And maybe he had. In his obligatory 2015 campaign prep memoir, Cruz tells a story the first half of which would resonate with anyone who grew up one of the smartest kids in the class (and here I’ll shyly raise my hand). Like many of us once considered “gifted and talented,” he struggled to control his enthusiasm and pride in schoolwork. I also know Cruz’s other recognized weakness: being “bad at sports”. As he says, “[t]hat mix was. . . not a recipe for popularity.

Relative, right? Then he will remind you that he is not like you and me; it’s Ted Cruz. “In the middle of college,” he wrote, “I decided I had had enough of being the unpopular nerd. I remember . . . ask a friend why I wasn’t one of the popular kids. I ended up staying up most of the night thinking about it. ‘Okay, well, what do the popular kids do? I will consciously imitate that. ”

That’s the story I tell when people ask me what I think of Cruz’s stubborn insensitivity, though it also strikes at least a chord with me. Many of us know what it’s like to worry about being unpopular. What makes Cruz stand out as an alien (or the Zodiac Killer) isn’t just his distrust of his plan (“imitate”!) but that to this day he thinks it was an unqualified success.

“I tried to be less cocky. When I got a test exam, even though I probably did well, I just put it away. I wouldn’t watch it. It wasn’t rocket science, but it was interesting to see what these sorts of small conscious changes could produce.

Again, there’s something vaguely human about learning not to brag about your good grades, an impression he quickly ruins by talking about his social life as if it were a laboratory experiment. Cruz also seems to misunderstand that a middle-aged U.S. senator bragging about cracking the popularity code in college could mean he’s even more insufferable now than he was before.

Ted Cruz makes an appearance in The View
Ted Cruz with The View hosts on October 24, 2022.Lou Rocco/ABC

The nadir of the See The segment was likely when, after repeated questions and outbursts from the hosts about the GOP’s acquiescence to election deniers, Cruz ripped a folded sheet of white paper from his coat and began reading examples of Democrats who have at a moment questioned the results of the elections. At this point, there was a lot of shouting overlapping around the table, so I didn’t catch everything he was saying, although I heard at least two references to Hillary Clinton and Biden criticizing the 2000 election.

Let’s leave aside the emptiness of this supposed “gotcha” (unless you remember something about the consequences of the Al Gore concession that I don’t). Let’s talk about Cruz trying to settle an argument by pulling a set of prop notes out of his pocket like he’s Matlock.

Before you tell me that, well, maybe it was an honest reminder for the senator: no, no, no. Ted Cruz doesn’t need to be spurred on by his arguments. He issued an obstruction. He was Solicitor General of Texas. In middle school, he toured Kiwanis and Rotary clubs and recited the Constitution from memory. Cruz closed with “a patriotic poem”, “I am an American”, set to lively music. (How could this kid be unpopular?)

So his notes were a prop. And that gesture says more about Cruz than it intended, although, to be honest, I’m not sure of the intended message. Did he think wielding a physical document would stun his opponents into silence? Or make his case more legitimate? “I didn’t know if I believed Ted Cruz, but then I saw he was right. written on a sheet of paper. »

But his intentions have been eclipsed, once again, by the fact that he was so cowardly, so determined to succeed that he cannot even claim humility. He knew he was walking into an ambush, he knew he would need some kind of backup, and he thought the paper in the breast pocket trick would work. He didn’t want to listen; he wanted to win. He didn’t continue View to show the libs that he could laugh with them. He continued View to own them.

It is a testament to our current state of mindless partisanship that it seems to have worked. Today, conservative sites broadcast sound clips See appearance with such titles as “Ted Cruz Crushes ‘The View’ Hosts & Triggers Woke Audiences” and “Watch ‘The View’ Hosts Lose It When Ted Cruz Shows Them Facts.” These reactions don’t suggest admiration or affection for Cruz so much as an artificial intelligence program performing a name search and replacement for the conservative figure who recently managed to drive liberals crazy. Cruz’s appearance was a form of “popular kid impersonation,” when you decided the only kind of popularity that matters is being on Fox News.

For his part, Cruz has learned enough not to express his desire to be loved. No, he continued View because – as he told Fox News (!) – curators need to “reach a much wider audience”. Reaching, but not respecting, as Cruz also pointed out that his hosts were more shaken up by hecklers than he was and that he found Whoopi Goldberg’s refusal to commit to the ‘antifa riots’ so ridiculous “I only had to ‘to laugh.”

It makes me sad to think that young Ted Cruz is so committed to success that he couldn’t even imagine making friends was anything more than an ace assignment. I’m less sad when I remember it’s still how Ted Cruz thinks of others – and when I think to what ends he hopes to obtain the popularity he seeks.

Ana Marie Cox is a columnist for The Cut and author of Dog Days: A Novel and a forthcoming memoir.

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