The apparently impromptu nap — which echoed an earlier bit of eye-resting by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) as Biden discussed his push for a higher minimum wage — left “The Daily Show” tying Cruz’s slumber to his state’s massive power outages earlier this year.
“Looks like Ted’s eyes are hooked up to his state’s power grid,” the show tweeted.
Comedian Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show” suggested Cruz “was only escorting his daughters to dreamland and was planning on coming right back” — referencing the senator’s explanation after leaving Texas for a Cancún family vacation during Texas’s deadly power outages.
Cruz, though, tried to turn his lethargy into a political weapon. On Twitter, he quickly retweeted a clip showing him nodding off with a hashtag aimed at Biden: “#BoringButRadical.” On Fox News, the senator repeated that phrase “boring, but radical” while trying to make the same delicate balance of criticisms. While Cruz complained that Biden had said “nothing notable,” he also accused him of making “radical” proposals.
“Joe is deliberately being boring,” Cruz told Fox News, “but the substance of what he’s saying is radical.”
Biden’s own backers might not disagree with that assessment of his efforts to avoid the outrage and controversy emblematic of Donald Trump while still pushing sweeping plans. New York Magazine recently noted that Biden, once dubbed “Sleepy Joe” by Trump, had managed to quell some opposition by playing nice.
“The quality that has made him so effective up to this point is, well, his sleepiness,” Jonathan Chait wrote in the magazine’s analysis of Biden’s first 100 days in office. “Republicans can’t stop Biden because he is boring them to death.”
Indeed, as Cruz appeared to snooze, Biden outlined an ambitious agenda — including universal preschool and free community college, tax increases on corporations and the very wealthy, and systemic changes to policing.
Cruz is hardly the first to be caught resting his eyes at a presidential address. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously dozed off after enjoying a glass of “very fine California wine” before President Barack Obama’s State of the Union in 2015. In 2019, an 11-year-old boy invited to the State of the Union became a social media darling after he fell deeply asleep. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), meanwhile, denied slipping into a slumber at that same event: “I wasn’t sleeping. I was trying not to scream,” she wrote in a tweet responding to a photo that showed her eyes shut.
The long history of State of the Union naps didn’t stop the Internet from unloading on Cruz on Wednesday.
“What is Ted Cruz dreaming of, ya think?” satirist Jeremy Newberger tweeted, alongside a Photoshopped image that showed the senator dreaming of walking through an airport.