[UPDATE: Sen Cruz’s Ethics Hero designation has been REVOKED by Ethics Alarms. Details here.]
One of the Republican party’s most demonized conservative politicians, Tea Party idol and Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, just challenged his progressive critics to concede that he has the character of a President, at least.
Cruz stood by politely as familiar TV pundit Mark Halperin cross-examined him on Bloomberg TV as if the Cuban-American was suspected of being born in Kenya. The demeaning interview (to both Cruz and Halperin, who disgraced himself) consisted of Halperin pressing the Republican firebrand to prove his Hispanic bona fides with cringe-worthy questions about his favorite Cuban food and what his tastes in Hispanic music were. (A Hispanic journalist quipped that Halperin had Cruz confused with Ricky Ricardo.) It all came to a nauseating climax when Halperin said: “I want to give you the opportunity to directly welcome your colleague Sen. Sanders to the race, and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en español.”
The fiasco of an interview took a while to register (apparently nobody watches Bloomberg), but when it did, Halperin was excoriated left, right, and center, called a racist, called a fool, called biased against Cruz and determined to trap him into a “Gotcha!” Mostly he was called an inept and unprofessional interviewer, and Halperin, who is playing talking head somewhere that actually has viewers almost every day, had to issue an attempted career-salvaging apology.
Ted Cruz surprised everyone by coming to Halperin’s rescue. He wrote:
Mark Halperin is a serious and fair-minded journalist. Today he kindly issued an apology for some silly questions he asked me in an interview. The apology was unnecessary — no offense was taken, nor, I believe, intended — but is certainly appreciated.
I’m proud of my Cuban heritage, my father’s journey from oppression and prison in Cuba to freedom in America, and also my Irish-Italian heritage on my mother’s side. Both are integral parts of who I am today.
The 2016 Republican field is shaping up to be the most diverse in history, and I look forward to a robust and substantive conversation about how we work together to turn around our current stagnation and expand opportunity for everyone to achieve the American Dream.
Cruz could have easily exploited Halperin’s terrible interview for personal gain. He could have used it to make the point that news media is disrespectful to conservatives (true), that it is not above using ethnic and racial stereotypes to denigrate Republicans (true), that it gives softball interviews to candidates journalists favor, and aims hostile or embarrassing queries at the rest (absolutely true). When you have someone who harmed you at your mercy, and nobody would blame you if you took full measure of the opportunity, it is a mark of compassion, kindness, fairness and complete understanding of the Golden Rule to let the opportunity expire. To not only forgive but exonerate, as Cruz did, is exemplary ethics.
Especially when you’re a hot-blooded Latin like he is…right, Mark?