Ted Cruz and Basic Leadership
It is really so hard to understand that you don't go on vacation during a massive disaster?
Senator Ted Cruz of the State of Texas decided it would be cool to take a trip to Mexico because his house was cold and he could afford it. The problem is that he got caught and had to come home. He tried to blame his daughters, which is always an impressive move, although texts seem to indicate otherwise. Oh, and he left his dog at home for a security guard to take care of.
This has led to a firestorm of criticism (as well as a lot of defense of Cruz by right-wing allies, which I can only attribute to the reflexive need to defend one’s own, because, really?).
Cruz, of course, is not exactly known for his principled stands. After what ended up being a lame attempt at rebelling at the 2016 RNC he eventually fell into ass-kissing mode with Trump. And all of that was despite the fact that Trump had insinuated his father had been involved in the assassination of JFK, nicknamed him “lyin’ Ted,” and insulted his wife. Indeed, Cruz would eventually make himself one of the vanguard of electoral vote challenges in the Senate.*
The one thing all that underscores is that Cruz likes being in office more than he cares about his personal dignity. It also shows that he is willing to do whatever he thinks will advance his career. He is willing to either be part of the anti-Trump wing of the party or, upon checking the winds, the deeply pro-Trump wing of the party. Whatever works is fine by him.
In some ways, that makes his escape to Cancún a bit puzzling, because it is the kind of thing that could very much threaten his position. On the other hand, of course, why remain in a position of power if you have to stay in a cold house like all the rubes? (Plus, he doesn’t face re-election until 2024, and he figures all of this will be a distant memory by then).
Also, if you are going to live by the snide and snarky, you are going to die by the snide and snarky.
The most prominent example is this:
At least he acknowledged it, but it is a pretty weak response:
There is so much wrong with the above, but not the least of which being the utter lack of compassion for fellow Americans (indeed, fellow human beings).
Not to mention,
At its simplest level, it boils down to this: Texans have been experiencing a truly historical disaster at the moment. Part of it is a natural disaster and part of it is a disaster of failed governance. I can appreciate that in many ways there isn’t a lot that Cruz can do to alleviate these facts at the macro level.
But is there nothing he could be doing?
Cruz is a powerful man. It is not outside the realm of the reasonable to expect him to use some of that power and influence to try and help as many of his constituents as possible. He isn’t even trying to bring symbolic aid.
At a minimum it is not unreasonable to expect that he would not rub the freezing noses of constituents in his personal privilege.
Being placed in the position of leadership does actually incur some minimal levels of obligation. As such, I have to agree with David A. Graham at The Atlantic: Ted Cruz Is No Hypocrite. He’s Worse. As the subhead of the piece notes: “The senator’s error is not that he was deliberately shirking his duty, but that he couldn’t think of any way he could help.”
*This paragraph really is its own bizarre microcosm of the the Trump era.
The whole incident is breathtakingly, mindbogglingly, stupid. It displays a lack of understanding of even the most basic optics in politics: at least LOOK LIKE YOU GAF.
Throwing his kids under the bus in order to look like a “good dad” is just bizarre. I have loads of stories in my FB feed from friends in Texas who are teaching *their* children to be good citizens by having them check on neighbors, deliver food, shovel walks, and more.
I have a feeling Cruz is depending on short memories, but this isn’t some complex scandal. It’s easy to understand and easy to remember. This silly trip may well end his career in politics.
I said yesterday that this is the stupidity of arrogance. Cruz is nothing if not arrogant, and it makes him oblivious even to the optics of the situation. It genuinely seems not to have occurred to him–as it would to almost anyone else–that at the very least, this was not a good look for him.
If he’d put his mind to it, he could have figured put something useful to do, such as handing out blankets and bottled water in a shelter.
There are some people who are trying to help in addition to Beto:
I don’t think this was a parody – Dinesh D’Souza (sp?) In support of Cruz said essentially that is was responsible for him to leave so that he was not taking food and water from someone else.
I am sorry to be insensitive here but that seems like Republican valuation of government in a nutshell. Those in charge are literally not worth the food it takes to feed them. If these jackasses believed their own nonsense they should demand that all Republican office holders be arrested for fraud.
Justifications don’t come much feebler than D’Souza’s. When he edited The Dartmouth Review, they called him “Distort D’Newza.”
If Cruz had stayed put and done nothing else, at the least he’d be signaling “We’re all in this together.”
By leaving on vacation, the signal is “You’re on your own.”
As I said in the open thread, if he had to leave intolerable circumstances, he should have gone to DC and tried to secure aid or at least pretend to. That is his job. And DC has power, heat, and food and water.
@Kathy: All exactly correct.
As a Gen-Xer who grew up in the shadow of the Boomers and Silent generation and their infuriating self-centered materialism, I had high hopes that my generation of politicians would be different and an improvement. I’m sad to admit that my generation’s politicians aren’t any different and might even be worse. And there is no better example of that than Ted Fucking Cruz.
According to the one linked articles, Ted Cruz has a poodle named Snowflake.
Given how the word is hurled around as an insult on the right, I have to wonder if he has a goldfish named Libtard and a cat named Socialist.
I did not think my opinion of the man could be lower, but he found a way. “This is my dog, Snowflake, hur hur.” What an asshole.
Being a Boomer, as a young man I harbored the same hopes as you and have been disappointed. Your solace is the pols of your generation are no worse than those of their immediate predecessors. In the dark of night, while sipping our favorite beverage, Boomers acknowledge that not only have they failed their own ideals, but didn’t reach the example set the standards for our parents.
Part of being Ted Cruz is that it would never, ever occur to you that you ought to do something useful. You’d be more likely to suddenly feel you ought to learn to speak Finnish.
Yep, it seems part of the circle of life.
We keep seeing the same pattern, for at least the last 20 years. The ideology of these guys, whatever you want to call it, seems not to be “do less”, but rather “do nothing”. Which may work fine in a posturing sense and from day-t0-day where the people who have a job do it, and they stand around shouting about doing nothing and how much better it would be.
But then stuff happens where the average person, in fact, most people, want some help, and do expect government to step in. There was the Enron thing in CA, there was Hurricane Katrina, there was the Great Recession, there was covid, and now this blizzard/deep freeze in Texas.
It’s kind of like “there are no atheists in foxholes”. There aren’t any anarchists in a blizzard. (I don’t want to trash talk libertarians, because most of them that I know personally would be “Well, ok, this is kind of the case where you maybe need to do something”.)
I used to think Cruz in the White House would be worse than Trump, because he’s smarter than Trump. But every presidential wannabe has an Achilles heel, and Cruz’s is that he thinks he can outsmart the voters forever.
Ted Cruz thinks Texas voters are idiots. And of course he’s correct. He’s not up for re-election until 2024 and if he can find a pregnant woman or a trans kid or an immigrant to kick in the teeth he’ll probably be re-elected.
This is what’s maddening. The GOP base are largely driven by thinking we on the left and our politicians don’t respect them. I wish there was some way to get them to see what their own politicians think of them.
@Jay L Gischer:
Except, of course, you have to prepare to do something long before the event, which requires a robust and healthy regulatory state. Perhaps with a light touch, and minimal regulations, but actually enforcing those regulations.
So, I’ll trash talk libertarians. Their fear is government power, and so they want to hobble the regulatory state. If it were just a matter of what regulations, that’s a reasonable argument, but their actions speak louder than their words. They vote for people who neglect government.
(And, I’ll believe the “those aren’t real libertarians” arguments when they stop voting for them)
I went to NC State, and I had to talk my way into that, but I’d put myself up against Ted Cruz any day.
Flyin’ Ted is a troll. He completely abdicates from the ethos of real politics, which is to get things done, in however messy, difficult, or delayed fashion possible (what Weber called “the slow boring of hard boards”). When he is not tweeting bilious nonsense, or basking in the applause of his contrived protest of the election challenge, or scheduling his mandatory face time on Fox, or flying to Cancun where the Mexicans he wants to prevent from immigrating can serve him margaritas, what does he do? Not much. He is the opposite of a politician. He’s not even a good liar.
@Teve: Good thing he didn’t try that on anyone who had gone to my alma mater or Caltech. How do you like your credit score of 300, “smart” boy?
Then maybe they could carry the thinking one step further and consider the possibility that if everyone thinks they’re idiots, it’s because they’re idiots.
Cruz is like a cross between Uriah Heep and Patrick Bateman.
@Sleeping Dog: Yeah, but at least we can say that we speculated the fwk out of property values in every major city in America and a fair number of us got rich off doing it. So there’s that, anyway.
Over the past few months, I’ve seen a few references to the idea of weighing actions and ideas based on the standards of legality, morality, and ethics, and I think the quality of leadership goes along with those ideals. (I’m sure I’m late to these considerations, but I’ve never seen the idea laid out like this until relatively recently.)
It would seem that a leader would consider things beyond just mere legality and actually think about things like the moral implications of certain choices.
Sadly, too many people (as indicated by stories like this and my personal Facebook feed) are operating at the base level of legality without regard to morals and ethics. So many saying things like, “Well what could he do anyway? Might as well go somewhere better.” And hell, lots of these geniuses don’t even seem capable of understanding the optics of such behavior. (Well, honestly they are probably just playing dumb and being willfully obtuse because it’s THEIR guy.) And that’s just sad. Thanks Trump. 😐
I absolutely get a kick out of the fact that whenever a Republican Congress Critter starts in on how some Dem says mean things, they always make sure to give as examples the mean things said about Ted Cruz. Without fail. Always makes me chuckle. Someone pointed out Al Franken’s best quote about Ted Cruz, when he was in the Senate. “I like Ted Cruz better than any of my Republican colleagues, and I HATE Ted Cruz.”
@Gustopher: I make no claim about who is a “real” libertarian versus who isn’t. I just know some, and I think that they are interesting to talk to and nice to be around. So I don’t want to trash talk people I like.
I mean, to some, such as certain NYT reporters, that means I’m a pariah and should be shunned by polite company. I mean, what if I had a conversation with Peter Thiel once? I’m obviously a racist!
I hate the binary. I hate it when things get really black and white, because life just isn’t very black and white. As humans we love to go black and white, because all that complexity is hard to cope with, I guess.
There are 2 problems here:
1) We’re not Americans anymore. We’re red or blue, period. Even though I shirk all -isms, -ists, and -ians, the reds label me a blue. Oh well. They can call me a duck, too. Doesn’t mean I’m a duck.
2) Reds don’t see blues or other non-reds as being human beings. That’s why millions of reds have gotten divorced, disowned children and other family members, etc., all in the name of DT.
2a) Yes, there are blues and “none of the aboves” like me who have likewise disowned family members, but they haven’t gone so far as to not see them as human beings. It has more to do with not wanting the toxicity in their lives anymore. In my case, if someone wishes I were dead, which reds do, well, there’s nowhere I can really go with that, is there?
I’m glad that Biden is ensuring that Texas gets the federal aid it needs. Not everyone living there is a red; lots of them aren’t. They didn’t vote for any of this, and they don’t deserve it. Additionally, condoning letting all the reds in Texas suffer and die would be tantamount to me slitting my own throat and bleeding out on the floor, all to prove some absurd point. Although we’re not “Americans” anymore, we’re still part of the same nation-state for now.
NON-Sarcasm warning: There are an awful lot of Randians amongst the “thinking” Republican elite. Paul Ryan made every single intern read “Atlas Shrugged”. Isn’t this exactly what Randians would do? Cruz is successful, and has money, therefore he is a creator. All those people without money are leaches.
The good news our Gen-X cohort is so small that political power will likely transfer directly from Boomers to Millennials without Gen-X ever wielding much political power.
@CSK: Now he is known as “D’vorce D’Spousa” as well as felon.
@Michael Reynolds: I think Georgia shows us that these fools being re-elected forever isn’t inevitable. Especially when they show blatant disregard for the constituents, as Loeffler and Perdue and now Cruz did.
The only real risk is that he gets primaried by someone like Crenshaw who would hold the seat. George P. Bush is already a statewide elected official and won re-election in 2018 by double digits, I think he could win a primary and hold the seat too.
The thing is, this isn’t really true (despite the way some people behave on the internet, and even on cable news–including often, in the OTB comment section). I am not saying there isn’t a problem, there is, but this society does not actually behave like reds and blues are distinct factions.
Societies that really are divided in the way you describe fall into serious violence, like Colombia in the 1940s or the Balkans in the 1990s.
I know some will say we are almost there, but I do not see the evidence at this point.
@Teve: I am curious…I know a fella we call Teve who dated my aunt a long time before she passed away, and who went to NC State (my alma mater as well)…wouldn’t it be a coincidence if this was you. But this Teve was never outspoken about politics. But he is a great guy all around!
@Steven L. Taylor:
Your point really needs to be emphasized.
I know I sometimes fall into the trap you’re describing where I mistake the rhetoric of a small number of really online, really partisan, and really political people as representative of the nation as a whole. It’s pretty clear that is not the case.
@LexinLA: “It would seem that a leader would consider things beyond just mere legality and actually think about things like the moral implications of certain choices.” Who’s to tell me that my choices were immoral? (Serious question, I’ve been asked that question many times over the years.)
@MarkedMan: The statement brings up an interesting question. It’s unclear whether he’s saying “I like Ted Cruz better than [I like] any of my Republican colleagues…” or “I like Ted Cruz better than any of my Republican colleagues (do)…”
Yes, I realize that it’s probably both, but which is the primary elision? Is Ted Cruz the least worst colleague or is Senator Franken more generous toward Cruz that Republicans are?
@Robert in SF: Teve *is* a great guy, but I think unless your Aunt had a thing for much younger men, it might not be him. IIRC, this Teve is in his 40s… 🙂
@Andy: Your problem then is the self-deception of buying into the myth of generations as something particularly sociologically meaningful, and expecting humans will be other than humans. Silly idealisations.
@MarkedMan: More to the point (note: I spent several years talking comparative philosophy with a dyed-in-the-wool objectivist I taught with a decade or so ago), it’s entirely up to Ted Cruz to decide whether to help suffering people and wrong for the government to allocate already too scarce resources to the cause. Ted Cruz can help or not and he can decide that for himself. The extremists within the Objectivist circle will assert that he SHOULD not help because that will only hinder those who are suffering from building their self-reliance and creating their own success, but it’s Ted Cruz’s choice to do what will suit his needs at the moment.
In that way, Ted thought a trip to Cancun would suit his needs, but it turned out he was wrong. Too. Bad. Soooo. Sad. 😉
I’d add that a leader should also consider things beyond their nominal purview. For instance, your boss at the office is NOT responsible for managing the pandemic. That is not their area of expertise, nor their responsibility.
But they should 1) set the example by taking all the recommended precautions (within reason), like wearing a mask, washing their hands, etc., and 2) encourage and enforce compliance with precautions from all the people in their charge.
I’m amazed not just how many political leaders fail at this, and they are in charge of handling the pandemic, but also how many in business fail in the same way. they don’t even try.
There is a better way to say that, asshole. If you’re half as smart as you act like you are, you would understand that. Silly narcissist.
@Jen: Well he was younger than her, but would never tell us his age, but not like 30 years younger or other cradle robber stuff. He would surely be in his 70s by now…At any rate, just caught my eye when he mentioned that he (too) went to NC State, our alma mater…
I actually think you’re mostly right though the idea of generations as distinct cultural cohorts isn’t completely useless from a sociological perspective IMO. It is, however, really easy to take it too far.
@Just nutha ignint cracker: Oh, there is no doubt. It’s a whole chapter on Ted Cruz. Franken had a constructive relationship with many of his Republican colleagues, but ol’ Ted wasbeyond the pale for him and for other Republicans. The Senate has a huge thing about not speaking ill of other Senators. He wrote this when he was a Senator. Reading between the lines it is clear he checked it out with senior Republican Senators before he published and they all gave him the covert nod.
@Steven L. Taylor:
I recently listened to the audiobook of Peter Maas’s “Love Thy Neighbor” (no direct quote, since I just have audio, alas), and there was one point where he is describing a skit on a Bosnian TV show, while the Serbs were beginning to rumble about Greater Serbia, which had a mixed racial household degenerating into civil war along randomly determined ethnic lines (“you look more like your father, so you must be Serb!”) where the bathroom was the prized territory everyone wanted. And it was hilarious, because it was so absurd — Bosnia was too integrated for anything like that to happen.
Anyway, flash forward a few months… and hilarity ensues*.
I’m not saying that it’s going to happen, but that we won’t notice the tipping point until we are well past it.
*: Back when I was living in NYC and the NYTimes had television listings, I noted that they had a tendency to start one sentence movie descriptions with “Hilarity ensues when…” if it was even plausibly a comedy, regardless of subject. “The Odd Couple” would be described as “Hilarity ensues when two men get divorced.” They never, to the best of my knowledge described “Life Is Beautiful” as “Hilarity ensues when Italian Jews are sent to a concentration camp”, but I think that is likely just because it wasn’t on TV yet.
@Just nutha ignint cracker: “Yes, I realize that it’s probably both, but which is the primary elision? Is Ted Cruz the least worst colleague or is Senator Franken more generous toward Cruz that Republicans are?”
It’s the latter. I’ve heard him deliver the line in person and it’s clear what he means.
@Gustopher: Always hilarity? Hijinks never ensued?
And your problem is that you’re engaging in a semantic slippery slope fallacy (the argument that if the boundaries between two categories are not well defined, then the categories are invalid; classic example being the argument that bald people don’t exist because we can’t pinpoint a precise number of hairs where someone goes from having hair to being bald).
On my job, one of the reasons we’ve been so much better than most (if not all) of the shows shooting in Los Angeles is that our showrunner gives a shit and is taking the pandemic hella seriously. She leads by example and immediately gave the Covid Team full control over managing and overseeing Covid on our series. So she, willingly, gave up power to the Covid Team. She takes what they say seriously, and empowers the rest of us to do the same. If you didn’t play ball, you were gone. We’ve been shooing since Sept 28th, have had less than 10 positives, and have only been down two days total. Other shows, like “Lucifer”, and “Shameless” and even Ellen were down for weeks at a time due to positive cases and quarantines.
The leadership has to come from the top.
I can’t help but think of how many lives Trump, Pence, Mnuchin, Kudlow, Atlas, Wolf, Cuccinelli and others could have saved just by wearing a fvcking mask and telling people “Wear a mask.”
@MarkedMan: @wr: Thank you. Both. Clears up a lot. 🙂
This is a damn good point. It happens in many areas of social sciences and dynamical systems in general.
I raise the latter example, because AGW is a problem that needs to be solved. But it is easy for a conservative to argue we should deal with the effects as they come rather than risk damage to the economy. Part of the reason that message sticks is because we truly don’t know at what temperature/GHG concentration the tipping point is. The truth is we likely wouldn’t know until we are past it.
I remember an article from 538 a while back. I think one of their chats. One of the participants pointed out that we can only see a political realignment after it has happened or at least very late in the process. Only after can we really begin to look for potential tipping points.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
I’ve been asked that question before as well: Exactly WHOSE morals?
Not entirely sure of the answer myself, but I guess, instead of there being an external standard, it would just be a matter of self-reflection on the morals that one would presumably possess, or if not that, then hopefully just consideration of what someone else in a similar position of leadership would do.
But then again, it’s possible that Cruz is incapable of that since he didn’t even have the self-awareness to recall the circumstances two months ago when he called out the mayor of Austin for traveling during the pandemic.
That Ted Cruz is…. something.
@Kathy: I totally agree!
Ted left us here. And that was painful. Then he came back and that was excruziating.
@Steven L. Taylor:
I hope you are 100% right, and I am 100% wrong, but I just don’t see it. The hate isn’t just on the internet. We had the Capitol attacks. We have people raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for killer Kyle Rittenhouse. We have anti-maskers attacking employees and other customers in stores. The governor of Florida has ordered flags to be flown at half-mast for Rush Limbaugh.
We have ~500,000 dead from COVID-19, and about half of the country claims we didn’t “need” those people, they were all “weak,” and there’s no reason to grieve their deaths.
It’s not just on the internet. The internet is a reflection of real life. Sometimes, the reflection is distorted, but it’s not that far off.
But, let’s be honest, this claim simply isn’t true. Almost half the country is not claiming any of that.
Some people are, and it is gross and wrong, but part of how a country ends up in civil war is making claims like “all of the other side” is doing X (where X is some horribly immoral thing).
@Nightcrawler: “The internet is a reflection of real life.”
No, it really isn’t.
Most people pay very little attention to politics, for example.
I’m a Boomer and every once in a while, after listening to all the bitching and moaning directed at and toward Boomers, I wonder how it is that so called ‘Greatest Generation’ managed to fail so miserably at raising their children ?
Honestly, this – blaming predecessors or successors – is a time honored tradition. Don’t believe me? Just look at all the criticism leveled at Millenials.
The generation thing is a total myth.
Cohorts are much more tightly contained in time. And even then the carry-on effects are tiny
The so-called Baby Boom was 1946 to 1962-3sh. Way too wide of span. That is ludicrous. The old boomers could be parents to the youngest.
The entire concept of generations is beyond silly. A new set comes on every year.
Age related cohorts are way more narrow than pop psych allows.