Travelin’ Ted, The Cancun Cruz
One of the most basic rules of being a competent politician is this: never leave town in a weather disaster. In the case of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, nobody expects him to fix winter storm-related problems that are more the responsibility of the state’s governor, mayors, and Texas lawmakers. But they expect him to be around to share their suffering, and to be doing whatever he can at the federal level to help relieve it.
They don’t expect him to climb on a plane with his family and head for a resort in sunny Cancun. But that’s what he did. And he got caught. Now he has come back to Texas, but people are calling for his head. Given how much Texans are suffering from this week’s catastrophe, I don’t blame them for scapegoating him. He tweeted this late last year:
Hypocrites. Complete and utter hypocrites.
And don’t forget @MayorAdler who took a private jet with eight people to Cabo and WHILE IN CABO recorded a video telling Austinites to “stay home if you can…this is not the time to relax.” pic.twitter.com/KSvkiwxgga
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 2, 2020
My colleague Matt Purple has a good piece up today about shame. In it, he writes:
Therein lies another reality about shame, especially among we rebellious Westerners: It isn’t just a way to victimize the weak, but also to take the piss out of the powerful. It’s a kind of populist weapon, a way of tearing down those whom we judge to have gotten too big for their own good. There’s something viscerally satisfying about seeing a pompous leader stripped down to rags and paraded through the streets. All the more so if he’s guilty of hypocrisy, having fallen short of the same ethical code he was supposed to exemplify. Shame is thus a fundamentally moralistic thing, a way of signaling one’s superiority over another.
It probably is not to my credit, but I’m not sorry to see Texans warming themselves by roasting Ted Cruz’s backside. I’ve had a bone in my throat over Cruz since he showed up at a 2014 meeting of Middle Eastern Christians in Washington, a gathering to raise awareness about the persecution of their communities, and grandstanded about Israel, all to burnish his domestic political credentials, particularly with Evangelicals. It was cruel and manipulative political theater. I wrote about it here and here and here.
Ted Cruz in 2014 understood political theater, and had no moral compunction about having used and abused a room full of some of the most vulnerable Christians in the world to advance his political career. If he is being burnt at the political stake now for his ill-advised Mexican vacation, well, I hope that warms the hearts of Christians all the way over in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and elsewhere in the region.
— Jon Gabriel (@exjon) February 18, 2021
UPDATE.2: The NYT has reviewed text messages in which Heidi Cruz invited neighbors to flee the cold and join them at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun:
Text messages sent from Ms. Cruz to friends and Houston neighbors on Wednesday revealed a hastily planned trip. Their house was “FREEZING,” as Ms. Cruz put it — and she proposed a getaway until Sunday. Ms. Cruz invited others to join them at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancún, where they had stayed “many times,” noting the room price this week ($309 per night) and its good security. The text messages were provided to The New York Times and confirmed by a second person on the thread, who declined to be identified because of the private nature of the texts.
In his statements, Mr. Cruz noted that the private school his daughters attend in Houston was closed this week. But some other parents at the school were incensed when they heard about his international trip because of the pandemic and school policies that have discouraged such travel abroad.
Two parents provided a copy of the written school policy for students not to return to classrooms for seven days after international travel, or to take a coronavirus test three to five days after returning, which would keep the Cruz children out of school for the following week. (Separately, an aide to Mr. Cruz said he had taken a virus test before his return flight on Thursday; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires a negative result.)
When Ms. Cruz wrote to the group text chain of neighbors trying to weather the extreme conditions early Wednesday, she said the family had been staying with friends to keep warm, but quickly pivoted to offering an invitation to get away.
“Anyone can or want to leave for the week?” she wrote. “We may go to Cancún.” She teased a “direct flight” and “hotels w capacity. Seriously.” Ms. Cruz promptly shared details for a Wednesday afternoon departure, a Sunday return trip and a luxurious stay at the oceanfront Ritz-Carlton in the meantime.