The fact that Sen. Ted Cruz peddled transparent nonsense during a Fox News appearance on Sunday night was not surprising. What made the Texas Republican’s drivel amazing, however, were the details and larger context.
Cruz argued, for example, that the Justice Department shouldn’t care about Donald Trump taking highly sensitive national security secrets to a glorified country club and refusing to give them back. “Every former president has taken documents from his administration,” the senator claimed. “Barack Obama did that. Bill Clinton did that. George W. Bush did that.”
As Cruz probably knows, this claim was debunked weeks ago, and no former president has ever faced allegations along these lines.
The Texan went on to insist that Obama successfully weaponized the Justice Department as a political tool to target his political enemies, which remains hopelessly bonkers. In fact, if Cruz were serious about these concerns — he’s obviously not, but if he were — I’d refer him to the extensive evidence of Donald Trump and George W. Bush doing exactly what the senator is falsely accusing Obama of having done.
It was emblematic of one of Cruz’s biggest problems as a politician: his unshakeable cynicism. I’ve followed his career for a while now, and I’m convinced that the Texas Republican's most glaring flaw isn’t that he’s dumb, it’s that he thinks everyone else is dumb, which is why he keeps pushing ridiculous nonsense, confident that much of the public won’t know the difference.
It was against this backdrop that Cruz, in the same Fox News appearance, also let viewers know that his new book would soon present the “first inside account of what happened” on Jan. 6. The senator added that he’d take readers “through the evidence of election fraud and voter fraud in November 2020, which the Democrats and the corporate media insists doesn’t exist.”
Let’s start with the most glaring problem: Cruz’s book does not actually present any credible evidence of election fraud and voter fraud from the 2020 election cycle. As Philip Bump explained today in a Washington Post analysis:
The book was released on Tuesday. This particular “corporate media” outlet can now report that, in fact, rampant fraud continues not to exist — as demonstrated, here at least, by Cruz’s failure to present any of his promised evidence of election or voter fraud.
In other words, Cruz assured Fox News viewers that his book would tell them exactly what they wanted to hear, and the senator would finally present “the evidence of election fraud and voter fraud” they’ve been longing to see, but his promises proved hollow. The former lawyer ultimately had no case to make because the underlying claims remain absurd.
But making matters worse is the inconvenient fact that Cruz knows full well that his party’s “Big Lie” is ridiculous — because he’s said so. As a separate Post analysis explained yesterday, “He called Trump’s voter-fraud claims ‘reckless’ and ‘irresponsible’ and ‘way too far over the line’ — despite having offered to argue Trump’s case — and even said Trump ‘plainly bears some responsibility‘ because of his ‘angry rhetoric.’”
That, of course, was the iteration of Cruz we saw last year. The new iteration, who realizes that his party’s radicalized base won’t tolerate such criticisms of Trump or Jan. 6 rioters, has decided the smart political move would be to release a book that embraces conspiratorial nonsense, indifferent to the fact that the book’s purported “evidence” isn’t true.
In the wake of the insurrectionist violence, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey appeared on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” and said that Cruz was not only “complicit in the Big Lie,” the Texan was also one of the GOP lawmakers who had “a lot of soul searching to do.”
That search does not appear to have gone well.