Ted Cruz, Ben Shapiro.
Clemence Michallon, The Independent
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the story by now. On Thursday, as Texas struggled through the fourth day of a deadly deep freeze, it emerged that Ted Cruz had… left. By his own admission, he flew his family for a family vacation in Cancun, Mexico, even as thousands in his home state – the one he’s supposed to represent and, presumably, care about just a little bit – remained without power or heat, with many struggling to access clean water and food.
Cruz contends he was merely accompanying his daughters after they asked to go on a trip with friends; media reports paint a different picture, with Cruz’s wife Heidi reportedly planning to trade the family’s “FREEZING” home for the Ritz-Carlton, according to texts obtained by The New York Times.
Yet conservative commentators wasted no time leaping to Cruz’s rescue, doing some astounding mental gymnastics in the process. In their desperate attempt to defend his actions, they turned to an old trick: instead of providing evidence of why leaving Texas in its hour of dire need wasn’t objectively bad (because it is, in fact, objectively bad, and they know it), they focused instead on discrediting those doing the criticizing instead.
Predictably, it didn’t take long until a familiar cry resonated in the distance: the overdone, hazy allegation that this was a case of “cancel culture”.
Donald Trump Jr (of course) purported to denounce “the hypocrisy of those trying to cancel Ted Cruz”. Ben Shapiro described the outrage over Cruz’s vacation as overblown, and, in a classic case of whataboutism, attempted to redirect scrutiny on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. A number of conservative commentators, including Dinesh D’Souza, demanded to know what exactly Ted Cruz could have done if he’d stayed anyway. Still others said simply that the Senator “deserved a vacation”.
To put it bluntly: Yes, when you are a state’s Senator, you are expected – reasonably so – to give a crap when things go wrong in said state. If you do not want to give a crap, no one’s forcing you to be a Senator.
If you only take a theoretical interest in your constituent’s problems – if you truly, genuinely feel that it doesn’t make a difference whether you are physically there or not – then perhaps you should consider a different line of work.
No one is trying to “cancel” Ted Cruz. Indeed, if “cancel culture” were a real, scary, threatening thing, do you really think this man would have remained Senator for eight years and positioned himself as possible GOP presidential frontrunner for 2024? Please.
What Cruz is facing is a little something us adults like to call consequences. Adults who fail spectacularly at their jobs deal with those all the time. There have been calls for Cruz to resign, and they’re far from unreasonable.
This is what you sign up for when you run for office. This is what you sign up for when you choose a job that places an enormous emphasis on accountability and optics. And despite what some might think, optics are relevant in politics for a reason. How the public feels about your actions isn’t a detail when you’re a politician: it’s at the core of everything you do.
This is a man who – as highlighted in a video released by The Daily Show as the scandal was unfolding – has spent years criticizing his Democratic counterparts for playing golf and allegedly being “out of touch” with the everyday American. If that’s your strategy, don’t expect to jet off to the Ritz in the middle of a crisis and emerge blemish-free.
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