Ted Cruz Picked a Fight With Big Bird and Lost

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Photo credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY - Getty Images
Photo credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY - Getty Images

Because I am a man of Christian charity whose heart is forever bursting with concern for my fellow man, I would like to begin the week by saying that I have grown concerned about Tailgunner Ted Cruz, the Republican senator from the great state of Texas. Frankly, on its way off the rails, I think his trolley has gone around the bend.

He had quite a weekend. First, he picked a fight with Big Bird…and lost. Le grand oiseau proclaimed that he had received his COVID vaccination. From the Guardian:

My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy. [CNN reporter] Erica Hill even said I’ve been getting vaccines since I was a little bird. I had no idea!”

Over the past year or so, the Tailgunner has taken on a second career as a Twitter troll, and he is the worst Twitter troll I have ever read. This is not a matter of ideology. This is a matter of The Funny, and the Tailgunner could not find The Funny with a flashlight, two guard-dogs, and the ghost of George Carlin to show him the way. That said, this United States Senator decided that a public-health message from a large yellow puppet was something up with which he would not put.

Cruz responded: “Government propaganda … for your 5 year old!”

I feel stupid even mentioning this, but the Sesame Street gang has been dishing out comforting medical knowledge like this for decades. (There even was a West Wing bit about how the Muppets came to the White House so Mrs. Dr. Bartlett could give Elmo a shot.) But, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, Cruz found allies among the flying-monkey escadrille.

Other rightwingers piled in. Lisa Boothe, a Fox News contributor, said “brainwashing children who are not at risk from Covid” was “twisted”.

Children are at risk from Covid, if less so than adults. In October, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 66 children aged between five and 11 had died from Covid-19 in the US. Children can infect others and infections in the five to 11 age group are rising, the CDC said, accounting for 10.6% of new Covid cases. Undeterred, Steve Cortes, a host on the conservative Newsmax network, said of Big Bird’s tweet: “This kind of propaganda is actually evil. Your children are not statistically at risk, and should not be pressured into a brand new treatment. Do Not Comply!”

These are people who allegedly are sympatico with Cruz, but hey, over the past five years, it’s become plain to me that there’s nobody who could wrench the wheel away from him on his turn toward Crazytown. He ended up a staunch supporter of a guy who’d insulted his wife’s looks and alleged his father was involved with Lee Harvey Oswald. When Texas was hit with a once-in-a-century winter storm, he beat feet for Cancun and used his children as human shields against the public opprobrium he so richly deserved. And through it all, he’s been tweeting away, risking relegation to a lower division of Twitter hell.

Last month, before he lost a decision on all cards to Big Bird, Cruz spoke to an audience at Texas A&M University, which is a pretty good place to lose your mind, all things considered. Cruz—who, we remind you, is a United States Senator—let his freak flag fly. From HuffPost:

“I’m not there yet,” Cruz told an audience last month at Texas A&M University about Texas seceding from the United States — popularly known as “Texit.” For one thing, Cruz insisted, Texas has a “responsibility” to the nation because “right now it’s an amazing force keeping America from going off the cliff, keeping America grounded in the values that built this country.” But he’s prepared to change his mind. “Look, if the Democrats end the filibuster ... if they pack the Supreme Court, if they make D.C. a state, if they federalize elections and massively expand voter fraud,” which doesn’t exist, “it may become hopeless,” Cruz said. “We’re not there yet.” But if it does become “hopeless,” that’s when the state should grab NASA, the military and the oil, he added.

The last Texas senator to talk openly this way was Louis Trevezant Wigfall, a secessionist fire-eater who left the Senate in 1860 after depositing this oratorical pile of dung into the congressional record:

“You shall not publish newspapers and pamphlets to excite the non-slaveholders against the slaveholders, or the slaveholders against the non-slaveholders. We will have peace; and if you do not offer it to us, we will quietly, and as we have the right under the constitutional compact to do, withdraw from the Union and establish a government for ourselves; and if you then persist in your aggressions, we will leave it to the ultimo ratio regum (a resort to arms), and the sovereign States will settle that question. And when you laugh at these impotent threats, as you regard them, I tell you that cotton is king.”

Nice precedent to follow, Tailgunner. Better to heed the warning of old Sam Houston, issued at the same time Louis Wigfall was running amok in Washington.

"I would lay down my life to defend any one of the States from aggression, which endangered peace or threatened its institutions. I could do more for the union, but I wish to do more; for the destruction of the union would be the destruction of all the States.”

And you don’t get NASA, pal, or “the military.” They’re both big-government programs, so they belong to us.

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