“Lucifer in the flesh,” Republican John A. Boehner, the former speaker of the House, called him in 2016.
“If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said in 2016.
Said Democrat Al Franken in 2017, when he was still in the Senate: “I probably like Ted Cruz more than most of my colleagues like Ted Cruz, and I hate Ted Cruz.”
Nobody likes Ted Cruz. This was the place that Ted Cruz was starting from earlier this week. Then he went to Cancun. He went to Cancun, where it is mostly sunny and in the low 80s, while many of his ice-blasted constituents were without heating and plumbing, watching their ceilings collapse, huddling in warming centers, defecating in buckets, and generally not packing for a few days on the Yucatán Peninsula.
“Not good,” Cruz tweeted early Tuesday evening about the shutdown of his state. “Stay safe!”
Within 24 hours he was in Mexico. And by then, the pastime of disliking Ted Cruz would become sport.
“As far as I’m concerned it’d be fine if he remained in Cancun,” Democrat Chris Turner, a Texas state representative, said on CNN. “He doesn’t do anything for us in Texas or in Washington, so I don’t know that we’re going to notice when he comes back.”
The Cancun affair is “something that he has to answer to his constituents about,” Allen West, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, told the Associated Press. “I’m here trying to take care of my family and look after my friends and others that are still without power.”
“Lyin’ Ted,” as Donald Trump called him during the 2016 campaign, became “Flyin’ Ted” just past midnight Thursday, when TV journalist David Shuster tweeted a photo of Cruz headed for his seat, passport apparently in hand, on an airplane Wednesday afternoon. The Cruz family was headed to Cancun, Shuster reported. Twitter users started sleuthing immediately, trying to corroborate this reporting with photographic details of gate and flight information. The evidence suggested that Cruz was in an Economy Plus seat, with plenty of legroom, on a United Airlines flight out of Houston.
On Thursday morning, Kyle Potter, editor of Thrifty Traveler, spotted “CRU, R” — Cruz’s first name is Rafael — on United’s upgrade list for a return flight to Houston. And then Edward Russell, a reporter for Skift, cited a source at United: Around 6 a.m. Cruz, whose original return trip was Saturday, had been rebooked on a flight out Thursday afternoon.
And then Cruz released a statement confirming the trip, and noting that it was motivated by fatherliness.
“With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends,” Cruz wrote, mentioning the direness of the winter storm but not the pandemic that has inspired many people to avoid unnecessary travel. “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.”
The Family-Man Defense, deployed to hilarious effect. As the father of daughters, I had to go to Cancun.
“Cold Cruz Flees to Cancun Amid Crisis!” was the headline on the Drudge Report.
Politicians have a terrible habit of recreating during times of crisis. When he was governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie plopped himself on a beach that was closed to his constituents because of a state government shutdown. Last year California Gov. Gavin Newsom, flouting covid caution, dined with a dozen people from multiple households at the French Laundry in Napa Valley. In 1987, as Washington grappled with a massive snowstorm, Mayor Marion Barry was in Beverly Hills drinking champagne and getting a manicure.
“We need to stay home if you can,” Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, said in a Facebook video posted from his vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in November. “This is not the time to relax.”
Cruz joined this tradition Wednesday, escorted through the Houston airport by city police officers — perhaps a safety measure after Cruz’s workplace in Washington was besieged by insurrectionists last month following Cruz’s participation in a disinformation campaign to fuel doubt about the legitimacy of President Biden’s electoral win. At the Cancun airport Thursday, the senator appeared to be escorted by a representative from the Ritz-Carlton.
“We appreciate his visit,” the tourism ministry of Quintana Roo told The Washington Post.
“I don’t have any updates on the exact location of Senator Ted Cruz,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted during her daily briefing Thursday, but the exact location is always known: somewhere near the floor of how likable a senator must be to maintain power.