Sen. Ted Cruz has what medical science calls a "Cruz-like nature."Gage Skidmore
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is a pioneer of modern politics. The junior senator of the Lone Star State defied the odds to become the most unpopular member of the U.S. Senate, a body of people whose collective approval rating falls below hemorrhoids, traffic jams, root canals and Nickelback.
So why should we be surprised when the least-liked person in such an unpopular body of men and women does something that Ted Cruz would do — like fly off to Cancun while his state struggles with a killer winter storm? And why should we be surprised that when he came back in a pandering Texas face mask and blamed his own kids for the trip? And why should we even look moderately shocked when he made a joke about a rotten thing HE did in a CPAC speech in Florida? ("I gotta say, Orlando is awesome. It's not as nice as Cancun. But it's nice." Oh yes, he did.)
These are not surprising because the Cancun incident is just one of the most Ted Cruz things Ted Cruz has done in a long, long line of Ted Cruz-y moments. These aren't his worst moments as a senator, attorney or human being. These are just the most bewildering moments in all Cruziness.
1. Ted Cruz Blocks a Senate Resolution Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg
One of the unspoken rules of American politics is that you don't have to agree with an opposing leader's politics to honor their memory after they die. Since no one in Congress wants to speak with Cruz, he's more likely to break the rule because no one told him about it. Then again if someone did, that probably wouldn't stop him.
Last year, Cruz blocked a bipartisan ceremonial resolution to honor the late Supreme Court justice because he objected to "partisan" language relaying the justice's final wishes to delay filling her seat until after the presidential election. You know, the very thing that Cruz and his party did for a year when Justice Antonin Scalia died in the final year of President Barak Obama's term? The resolution's words didn't provide any legal recourse to blocking ex-President Donald Trump's ability to choose her replacement. Cruz just objected to Ginsburg's dying wishes being mentioned because he didn't like her choice of last words. Cruz would edit someone's dying words with a red pen if he could.
2. Ted Cruz Gets Caught By a Dog Puppet Repeating the Same BS Speech to Primary Voters
The fact that Cruz thought a majority of Americans would vote for him for president in 2016 even when people in his own party once called him "Lucifer in the flesh" is Ted Cruz-y enough, but his choice to seek the Republican nomination would be one of many mistakes to come in his first presidential bid.
A plucky, wisecracking puppet named Triumph the Insult Comic Dog voiced by pioneering comedy writer Robert Smigel is one of the reasons his campaign unraveled. Triumph followed Cruz through the early part of his campaign in the New Hampshire primary and caught some of the BS he was peddling to potential supporters. Smigel and his crew recorded Cruz repeating the same tired speech on more than one stop; it accused the other side of the aisle of voter fraud in a joke that would make the hokiest man cringe until his face turned into a prune. We know he used it over and over because Triumph repeated it word for word as Cruz repeated it word for word right down to the stuttering "n-now, look." 3. Ted Cruz Brags About a Painting of Himself While Arguing Before the Supreme Court
Cruz is a master of self-worship. He seems like someone who has one of those Time magazine "Man of the Year" framed mirrors. There's something even more Ted Cruz-ish on his office wall.
During an interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl, Cruz brought up a hand-drawn portrait hanging in his congressional office. The portrait shows Cruz arguing a case that he unanimously lost before the Supreme Court from his time as Texas' solicitor general. Cruz says the portrait humbles him and reminds him of the inevitability of losing and failure. The part Cruz leaves out is about the case he argued in 2003 in which he defended Texas' decision to renege on a legal settlement to provide funding for adequate healthcare for poor children. The Supreme Court unanimously voted against Cruz's side, citing the precedent of "Come on, it's Ted Cruz." 4. Ted Cruz Reads Green Eggs and Ham to Filibuster the Affordable Care Act
You know you've sunk to a new low when you shut down the government and piss off government-hating, federal deregulating Republicans at the same time. It's the Congressional equivalent of nuking fish in the office microwave.
Cruz shut down the government in 2013 in order to prevent the funding for the Affordable Care Act because he thought you might as well go all-in if you're gonna argue to the highest court in the land that a state shouldn't have to treat poor, sick children. Cruz filibustered the ACA funding for more than 21 straight hours (only 13 of which involved Cruz actually speaking, which is Cruz-y enough). He quoted the braying, whiny words of author Ayn Rand and Ashton Kutcher's acceptance speech from that year's Teen Choice Awards, and he achieved peak Cruz-iness by taking down something we all love with him. Cruz read from Dr. Seuss's immortal literary classic Green Eggs and Ham in a way that makes us grateful he never had to tuck us in at night.
5. ...Then Ted Cruz Says He "Consistently Opposed Shutdowns"
Just like Cancun-gate, Cruz found a new way to out-Cruz himself under the pressure of another Cruz-ian scandal.
Five years after his infamous shutdown, Cruz claimed in a hallway interview with an MSNBC reporter that he "consistently opposed shutdowns." He claimed that during the infamous 2013 shutdown, he "repeatedly" asked "unanimous consent to reopen the government" with a straight (what he calls) face — even though he actively fueled and refused to stop a shutdown that's practically named after him. The amazing part is it wasn't the first time he said such a plain wrong thing. He even wrote it in his book titled, get this, A Time for Truth.
6. Ted Cruz Tries to Legally Defend a 16-Year Sentence for Someone Who Stole a Calculator
In a Texas court in 1997, Michael Wayne Haley received a 16-year prison sentence or a minor shoplifting charge thanks to a clerical error committed by the judge and both legal teams overseeing the case. The maximum sentence is two years. Cruz defended the heavy handed sentence as Texas' solicitor general because a calculator was involved and it would become one of many times that Cruz would prefer that people didn't try to do math (i.e. the 2020 election and its subsequential Cruz-topian events).
7. Ted Cruz Tries to Make Beto O'Rourke Look Bad Because He Was in a Punk Rock Band
Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke came the closest to toppling Cruz with his 2018 Senate campaign that ran on a progressive platform of "I'm not Ted Cruz."
One of the "negative points" Cruz tried to pin on O'Rourke was that he played in a punk band when he was young, a talking point sure to win the support of the sort of Texan's who protect their lawns at gunpoint, a vital slice of the electorate that makes up roughly 61 percent of the population. 8. Ted Cruz Makes Fun of Joe Biden the Night Before Biden's Son's Funeral
Making jokes about your political rivals isn't a new concept. In fact, it's sort of expected — unless timing is ill-advised. But bad timing never let Cruz stop being Cruzy.
Then-Vice President Joe Biden lost his oldest son Beau in 2015 to cancer. Cruz waited until the eve of Beau's funeral to toss a joke about how Biden's name is just a punchline, which really isn't a joke if you have to explain that it's a joke, but that's beside the point. Someone recorded and released a video of it and Cruz only issued an apology when the video made everyone wonder how someone could be so Cruz-ish. Then again, if someone quotes Ayn Rand while trying to keep people from having access to healthcare, then their humor radar isn't that strong anyway.
9. Ted Cruz Pisses Off Everyone on George W. Bush's 2000 Presidential Campaign
You know someone is on an epic level of Cruz-ness when they figure out a way to be the least liked person on a team like the George W. Bush campaign staff. It's like being named the least talented member of Limp Bizkit.
Cruz worked as an advisor on W's 2000 presidential campaign team and "Theodore" (as George W. called him) instantly became the least popular member of the team. W. sensed that the Theodore Cruz-esqueness was on par with a coked-up ferret and sent him to form the legal team that would bring the 2000 presidential election out of voters' control and into the hands of the Supreme Court. Theodore would email staffers throughout the day and night bragging about his legal qualifications to the point where people avoided being in the same room with him during meetings. Of course, Theodore bragged about all of this in his aforementioned book, which he probably emails to his staff in the early morning hours every day.
10. Ted Cruz Elbows His Wife in the Face While Hugging His Dad Three Times
This moment was easily the most Cruz-y moment of his campaign. It's a perfect metaphor for Cruz's plan to prevent Donald Trump from winning the nomination and his subsequent groveling to win Trump's favor when Trump became president — even after the man publicly criticized Cruz's wife for his being less attractive than Melania Trump.
Cruz's disastrous run at the White House ended following his loss in Indiana. He concluded it with a speech in which he went in to hug his father, Rafael, and ended up elbowing wife Heidi in the face (more than once!), like he's on a bad date in the world's lamest mosh pit. Hurting someone with a hug is one of the Cruziest things a human being can do.
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune,Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.