There was a weird flurry of scolding articles on Thursday in the wake of the Senate's long-expected confirmation of Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was the only senator not to cast a vote, which earned him some unflattering headlines. He was there in the morning, voting "no" on the cloture vote that brought her confirmation to the floor and spoke for ten minutes in objection. But for the final vote, he was on an airplane, headed back to Texas for a fundraiser for his presidential campaign. The Huffington Post was the giddiest — "Ted Cruz Was So Mad About Loretta Lynch That He Missed The Final Vote On Her Confirmation" — but most everyone else made note of the absence, too (including us).
It's certainly a bad look to skip a confirmation vote because you need to go ask for money for your presidential bid. But Cruz's spokesman had a point when he told the Post's Katie Zezima that Cruz "made the case against her, he voted against her in cloture and he didn’t prevail." Cruz's extra "no" vote wouldn't have made any difference.
The real problem is that Cruz missed so many other votes. According to data from GovTrack.us, Cruz has missed 70 percent of Senate votes so far this month. That's the most misses of any senator, and it follows six months during which he missed at least one out of every eight votes.
He also missed the vote on the human trafficking legislation that stalled Lynch's confirmation in the first place. He missed a vote on a bill reauthorizing the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. He missed a vote confirming a judicial nomination for a Texas court. None of those were particularly close, but those votes were just this week.
Sure, he's got a lot going on. But other presidential hopefuls have managed to do their primary job as they've geared up for 2016. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) missed 16.7 percent of votes so far this month, which is high, but not record-breaking. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) hasn't missed any. (Both voted against Lynch.) And this during the Senate's new era of actually doing things.
Point being: If we're going to get scoldy about people missing votes, get scoldy about missing votes that matter, not the votes that happen to make the papers.