Say what you like about Ted Cruz, but the man has a tan and he’s willing to flaunt it. “Bernie is wearing mittens!” he yelled angrily at the beginning of his mind-boggling speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, rubbing it in like nobody’s business. We get it, Ted: you took a vacation to Cancun and all Bernie Sanders got was this lousy inauguration. But perhaps now is the time to keep that stuff to yourself.
Cruz’s first appearance since his little getaway-during-a-crisis faux pas was about as coherent as your last fever dream. “AOC is telling us she was murdered!” he laughed, because who didn’t watch that Instagram Live where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tearfully said she’d feared the Capitol riot left her fearing she’d never get the chance to have children and enjoy a good old belly-laugh? Women! What are they like, lads? About as soft as the men who actually turn up to political events they’re expected at in the cold and wear gloves, amirite?!!
“Liberty is under assault,” Ted continued, stalking the stage, “and what are we gonna do?”
“Get ourselves on the reserve list for a business class seat on United!” I shouted at the screen. “And leave our wives and kids in economy!”
Alas, that wasn’t the answer. The answer was, as it always is, “We will fight!” But who will we fight, Ted? “This is the Rebel Alliance and Vader and the Emperor are terrified of the rebels here.” Ah yes, of course, Darth Vader. For the life of me, I don’t remember Darth Vader being a big proponent of the Equality Act and raising the minimum wage for the Stormtroopers, but what do I know? More than Ted, apparently, who in the next sentence mixed up his analogies and claimed we were living in Star Trek. With all that time spent on planes to and from Mexico, you might think he’d be a bit better at pop culture references.
It’s worth pausing to mention here that Republicans refused to vote to confirm Biden’s pick for Director of the Office of Management and Budget this week because she once tweeted that Mitch McConnell was like “Voldemort” and Cruz himself had less heart than “vampires”. Such commentary, senatorial members of the GOP said yesterday, was unacceptable for any governmental figure, even if they made such remarks when they weren’t yet in government. No doubt those Republicans will be ready offstage to demand Cruz’s immediate resignation after his comparison of Joe Biden to Darth Vader, and that will be a terrible shame for a man who made his speech to a lit backdrop reading “AMERICA UNCANCELED”.
The rest of Ted’s meandering presentation could have done with some work. “How many of y’all have eaten in a restaurant in the last six months?” he said, before delivering a very weird tight five on how the virus can’t be real but is real but anyway, let’s move on. He paused for an overly dramatic delivery at, “You know what terrifies liberals?… THE TRUTH!” and it didn’t pay off with the standing ovation he’d clearly imagined in his head. At one point, he actually stood there, onstage at a political conference during a pandemic, and said, “How many leftists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”
The commentary became increasingly off-the-wall. Sixty percent of women called Karen voted for Joe Biden — look it up! (In the recesses of my mind, Karen Pence looks nervously down at her hands and her husband averts his eyes from the screen.) Liberals will do and say anything, no matter how dumb it is! (Scenes of Cruz demanding an armed escort from the airport during his walk of shame last week while Texans froze to death run through one’s mind involuntarily, interspersed with clips of the crying Trump supporter on January 6th who told a news station it was “supposed to be a revolution” and she hadn’t expected to get tear gas in her eyes.) This is the party of waiters and waitresses, of working-class men and women with calluses on their hands! (Senate Republicans just helped block a raise to the minimum wage proposed by Democrats this morning, but don’t let me stop your flow.) My good friend Rush Limbaugh believed in liberty and justice for all! (The late radio host suggested women shouldn’t be allowed on all juries and that a good way to stop an abortion was “with a gun”.)
Yet it’s the random yelling into the void that always really gets me with a guy like Ted Cruz. You can’t help but admire its raw, wild-eyed energy. “JUST LIGHTEN UP!” he bellowed at one point, like a drill sergeant in clown school. “VERDICT WITH TED CRUZ, LIKE AND SUBSCRIBE!” he added in a non-sequitur about his own podcast. “THE REBELS HAVE TO FIGHT THE RADICALS IN BIDEN’S ADMINISTRATION!” he yelled, a sentence which felt more than a little oxymoronic — wait, which side has the new-fangled radical ideas here that they have to protect and “fight for” again? Are we… the goodies or the baddies now? — but that’s never stopped him before.
At the end of his 20-minute time to shine, Ted rounded off with one final braying, isolated howl: “FREEDOOOOMMMMMM!” We have entered the time of communication via buzzword, of free-floating words and confused cheers. “GUNS! KARENS! GALACTIC SPACE-SHIP! RADICALS! PODCAST! MURDERED! MITTENS! FREEDOM! GOD BLESS AMERICA!” And God bless Ted Cruz for at the very least being up-front and honest about what we can expect from his party for the next four years.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies