But with Trump now banned from Twitter and generally out of our daily lives, one man has stepped forward to pick up the mantle: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).
Cruz’s Twitter feed and even his public persona have long been less formal and more in-your-face than most any other member of his party. But of late he seems to have stepped up the effort, and that includes, much like Trump, latching onto undercooked claims and culture wars other Republicans have shied from.
The most recent example involves Cruz favorably comparing Russia’s military recruitment videos to the U.S. Army’s. He retweeted a viral video that spliced together a hard-nosed Russian ad featuring a man getting his head shaved, jumping out of an airplane and doing push-ups, with the American ad featuring the well-educated daughter of two women talking about why she enlisted.
“Holy crap,” Cruz said in his tweet. “Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea …”
When the tweet was criticized for suggesting the military was becoming “emasculated” and favorably citing Russia, Cruz doubled-down by saying “politicians & the woke media are trying to turn [service members] into pansies.” The word “pansy” is a derogatory term often used for a weak or effeminate male or a gay man, according to Merriam-Webster and other dictionaries.
A Cruz spokesperson told The Post that the military should be focused on winning wars: “Sen. Cruz passionately supports the brave men and women of the United States military and has repeatedly expressed concerns that Democrat politicians, left wing bureaucrats, and the media are politicizing our armed forces to promote a fringe woke agenda based on identity politics.”
Indeed, it wasn’t Cruz’s first foray into this issue this month. Three weeks ago, he decried another supposedly woke recruitment video from the U.S. government playing up diversity and LGBTQ inclusion. The CIA video featured a woman describing herself as a “woman of color” and a “cisgender millennial” who is “intersectional” and has an anxiety disorder.
“If you’re a Chinese communist, or an Iranian Mullah, or Kim Jong Un … would this scare you?” Cruz said. “We’ve come a long way from Jason Bourne.”
When commenters followed up by noting Bourne was a fictional character, Cruz again hit back at his “leftist” critics, saying CIA agents should be “bad-asses” like Bourne.
Cruz’s troll-y tweets have also ventured into easily debunkable — rather than just objectionable — territory.
Later Thursday after his Russia tweet, Cruz warned of another threat to the fabric of America: the text of the First Amendment being “jack-hammered” off the front of the new-defunct Newseum in Washington. Cruz suggestively connected it to Joe Biden’s presidency, saying, “I hope that’s not foreshadowing what’s to come over the next four years….”
In addition to the obvious explanation being that the Newseum building was being re-purposed for a new owner, a Google search would have quickly informed that the 50-ton tablet was merely being moved — not destroyed — to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
Cruz later acknowledged this.
What’s more, the transfer of the tablet is being paid for by none other than a former federal judge for whom Cruz once served as a clerk, J. Michael Luttig.
Luttig, whom Cruz once said he would have picked for the Supreme Court, responded to Cruz: “Had he asked, I would have told @SenCruz once again that the facts matter and it was foolish of him to demagogue the Constitution by mocking the removal of the iconic First Amendment tablet for reinstallation at its new home at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.”
Cruz, like many on the right, saw another affront to our country in the Biden administration not putting flags at half-staff for Peace Officers Memorial Day last weekend (after initially announcing it would do so).
“This is bizarre,” Cruz said.
Except the reason was less than bizarre: Biden was following the U.S. flag code. The code doesn’t allow for the flags to be at half-staff when Peace Officers Memorial Day falls on the same day as Armed Forces Day, which happens periodically.
After he was caught nodding off during Biden’s speech to Congress last month, he retweeted a misleading photo that showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Vice President Harris both with their eyes closed as if they too had been falling asleep. The photo instead showed them blinking at the same time.
A joke, perhaps! But one that history shows many will happily take at face value, as the image’s social media shares back up. It’s the kind of thing Trump regularly promoted: something that could easily misinform but also carried some plausible deniability.
Cruz has also in recent days said Biden has “climbed in bed with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin” and asked suggestively, “What does Putin have on Biden?” The reference is again to attacks on Republicans — specifically Trump.
But in that case it was more substantial. Trump often bent over backward to cozy up to Putin and give him the benefit of the doubt, even as his administration took some tougher measures. (A report from the GOP-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee also acknowledged a potential Russian effort to gain kompromat on Trump during Trump’s travel to Russia, while saying in a heavily redacted section that it “did not establish” such kompromat existed.)
When one of the group’s members, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted this week with information about how to contact members of Congress — as part of a thread about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — Cruz retweeted the information while urging people to “be sure to let them know whether you support Israel or Hamas terrorists" — one of multiple examples of him suggesting they support terrorists.
Again, none of this is entirely new for the senator from Texas. But it’s been rather pronounced, and seems to reinforce where this ambitious Republican sees a lane with Trump out of this particular game.