Great moments in politics

It always amazes me when politicians get caught behaving in ways that contradict what they tell others to do. During the pandemic, we have seen multiple occasions where political leaders violated the social distancing and other precautionary features that they were urging on others and going to parties, traveling, etc. Then earlier, remember how Chris Christie, when governor of New Jersey, was enjoying with his family a state beach that the state had ordered closed to the public due to a budget impasse? Surely they must realize that their actions are under a microscope and that they should act more circumspectly?

And now we have the latest flap over Ted Cruz. On Wednesday, right at the moment when his home state of Texas was being hit by freezing temperatures that left millions in their homes without power and water, he was spotted on Wednesday flying off to a beach resort in Cancun with his family. Not only that, he had even requested police assistance to get through Houston airport, no doubt to avoid having to mingle and wait in lines with the riff-raff. Such is their sense of entitlement. Unfortunately for him, he enjoys the media spotlight and so many people at the airport and on the plane recognized him and photos circulated on social media.

The resultant uproar was totally predictable though apparently not to him or his staff. (One report says that his staff in DC were not told of his trip which was why they did not immediately respond to media queries.) As a result, Cruz hurriedly booked a return flight back to Houston on Thursday. In a tweet, he outlined what is likely to be his excuse, that his daughters had planned this trip and that, like any good father, he just took them there and was always planning to return the next day after seeing that they got there safely.

Aww, how sweet! Such a good father! The problem is that his wife was accompanying his daughters (aged 10 and 12) so they were not alone. It was also revealed that he was originally scheduled to return on Saturday with the rest of the family. So he changed his story and said that he had started having misgivings about going while on the plane to Cancun and decided to fly back immediately. Hence it was not the lambasting that he was getting that caused him to change his plans. Yeah, right. But not to worry, Fox News and conservative media will help propagate ‘the good father’ story. Various excuses for Cruz’s actions were already being put forward by the usual right wing suspects.

While Cruz would be useless in solving the crisis in Texas, politics requires some effort to be made to show you care, such as Beto O’Rourke organizing volunteers to make over 150,000 calls to senior citizens to check on them and take them to safety if they needed help.

While I am of the belief that any situation can be improved by removing Cruz from the scene and so his leaving Texas is a net positive for the state, in terms of political optics, it is terrible.

“I can’t believe I have to say this, but: if you’re an American pol whose state is enduring a crisis of Katrina-like proportions and instead of going to help your constituents in even a basic, performative sort of way you FLY TO ANOTHER COUNTRY’S BEACH TOWN, you’re doing it wrong,” tweeted Sonny Bunch, a conservative commentator living in Texas.

No one expects Cruz to fix the problems with Texas power grid. (As I explained on Wednesday, the issue with the grid has its roots in Texas’ long-standing belief that it is an independent nation-state, operating entirely apart from the federal government’s reach.)

Just because Cruz can’t fix the immediate problem facing Texans doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be there — helping out at warming shelters or handing out food in water to people in crisis. Because that would show that he cares about his constituents, that he is willing to do any and everything to make this situation even a little bit better.

You knew that Cruz would become a meme and that the late night shows would run with this story.

Trevor Noah cannot believe that Cruz would be so stupid as not to realize how bad this would look.

In the first 10 minutes of his opening monologue, Jimmy Kimmel walks us through the sequence of events and Cruz’s shifting story about what happened.


  1. anat says

    And apparently his wife invited ‘others’ to join them at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancún ($309 per night) where the Cruzes have stayed ‘many times’. SRSLY? How many Texans have the means and opportunity to do so on a whim during a weather disaster?

  2. cartomancer says

    The thing that really gets my blood boiling is the way he starts that message. “The greatest state in the greatest country in the world”. I mean, how the sheer hubristic arrogance doesn’t burn him to a cinder on the spot I will never understand. The utter lack of humility, propriety and perspective is breathtaking.

    Particularly given that the state in question is Texas, which is widely regarded as one of the most regressive and dysfunctional states even within the US, which the entire rest of the world recognises as a failed basket-case of a nation. Even the UK, which is just glad that your national idiocy does such a good job of overshadowing ours.

  3. springa73 says

    @3 cartomancer

    There is a certain hyperbole that Americans often like to use (“the best, the greatest, #1!!”), and Texans are perhaps even more inclined to it than the national average. It’s only bothersome if you take it seriously or literally, which I most certainly do not.

    Having said that, I think you are guilty of some hyperbole of your own. If the “entire rest of the world recognises” the US as “a failed basket-case of a nation”, I highly doubt that there would always be millions of people around the world who want to become US citizens. The US has its share of problems, like every country does, but it isn’t a failed nation or anything close.

  4. Mano Singham says

    Blatant and shameless pandering (“The greatest state in the greatest country in the world”) is often resorted to by politicians to try and win back people when they have done something to alienate them.

  5. mnb0 says

    @3 Cartomancer: “the US, which the entire rest of the world recognises as a failed basket-case of a nation”
    The good news is that as a result euroscepticism is losing popularity. Most Europeans realize that they are on their own when dealing with Chinese expansion.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    With any luck, we will be able to look back on these days and say that Rush Limbaugh & Ted Cruz’s political career died together.

  7. prl says

    The US doesn’t have a monopoly on this sort of thing. In December 2019, in the middle of one of the worst recorded bushfire seasons in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison decided it would be a good time to take a family break in Hawaii.

  8. lanir says

    I have serious doubts about the parenting skills of anyone who would screw up that badly in a selfish way and then try to shift the blame to their grade school children. And on a national stage no less. That’s pretty despicable.

    I mean I get the idea of shifting blame when it’s harmless, such as when the story will never impact the people you’re blaming. But this is on the news. Everyone his daughters know is likely to hear his story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *