One of the more distasteful habits of Donald Trump as a candidate and as president was his penchant to tag his adversaries with pejorative nicknames.
One nickname, though, that might stick to Ted Cruz more than the one Trump gave him during the 2016 Republican nomination fight is this: Tone Deaf Ted.
Cruz seemed to forget a basic lesson in politics last week during the winter storms that ravaged his home state of Texas worse than anywhere else in the country: When your constituents are hurting, those in public office need to either share in their pain or be on the front lines helping them lift it.
Cruz did neither, fleeing the freezing state for a family vacation to sunny Cancun, Mexico, that he cut short after word about the trip got out.
Needless to say, the tens of millions of shivering Texans, who were dealing with the loss of power and subsequent loss of potable water, were not too happy about their junior senator’s getaway. And it didn’t assuage their hard feelings when Cruz tried to explain away the trip by saying his daughters, ages 10 and 12, pushed for the vacation after their school was cancelled for the week. It made the whole family seem like a bunch of rich spoiled brats.
In an earlier age, such a blunder might have crippled Cruz’s future political ambitions. The attention span, however, of American voters today for scandal is brief and their tolerance of bad behavior in politicians exceedingly generous.
Just as Cruz was able to transform himself over four years from being a Trump enemy to being a Trump champion, he may be able to twist and turn his way out of this one, too.
Cruz apparently doesn’t think his narrow Senate reelection victory in 2018 was a bad omen for his presidential prospects in 2024. His shameless efforts to try to help Trump overturn Joe Biden’s victory won Cruz admirers among the Trump faithful, even if not among Cruz’s Senate colleagues. Raising his unpopularity profile in Texas unfortunately might not matter all that much to those who live elsewhere.