Ethics Hero: Sen. Ted Cruz

[UPDATE: Sen Cruz’s Ethics Hero designation has been REVOKED by Ethics Alarms.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?


25 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Sen. Ted Cruz

  1. SEE? I told you there was more depth and ability in Cruz than you were giving him credit for. I’m not saying he should be the anointed candidate, but the guy has promise.

    • Perhaps, but he’s still just too dramatic for my tastes. I find it interesting that while he hasn’t been a Senator much longer than Obama was when HE was elected, Cruz’s term has given a great deal more insight into how he would govern.

        • Being a leader would involve building coalitions and trying to legislate. Ted Cruz pulls stunts like fake filibusters and throws hand grenades at anything he doesn’t like.

          • There’s no such thing as a fake filibuster. It either is one or it isn’t. It may have been ill-advised, but it wasn’t fake.

            That said, even though I like him, I realize that he hasn’t shown any more ability to build coalitions or find consensus than Obama had at the same point in his career, and that’s a red flag. We don’t need a(nother) president who lobs partisan hand grenades, we need an actual leader. Can he be a good one… Who knows? (Does anybody ever really know?)

            • To be fair, they are almost all fake filibusters now. A real filibuster is when a Senator starts talking and won’t stop. The “I swear I will talk until I drop unless you vote now to prove you’ll eventually stop me” version is not a filibuster. It’s a threatened filibuster.

            • The filibuster in question was fake because it was not a filibuster, but a scheduled speech that was billed as one. It filled a specific block of time and was, again, pre-scheduled so that he could grandstand without actually filibustering.

              • Ah, well…there you go. I guess I should’ve known that by now they’d have a way to filibuster without busting out any filling.

      • There’s a story about a journalist who asked a politician, “when are you going to give us straight answers?” The politician came back with, “when are you going to ask me straight questions?”

      • Well, let’s see, there’s…uh…uhm…and then there’s…………….Bill Hemmer? No, wait, forget I said anything. Whoopi Goldberg? Geez, what am I doing?…Martha MacCallum’s got nice legs………..Katie Couric? Nah! Who am I kidding? You’re right

  2. Cruz is pure class.
    Not at all wimpy.
    Wimpy is what Halperin is, asking racist and unprofessional questions of a person because he thinks his buddies in the media will think it’s cool. And all too often they do and they get away with it.
    We have a strange idea of wimpiness when what Cruz said is considered anything but magnanimous. Of course he’s a judge of journalists and a shrewd one too. Halperin comes out of this looking like a total heel. I’m guessing Cruz will be treated with a lot more respect by future interviewers.

  3. Not only an ethics hero, an ethnics hero when the Irish and Italian fractions are added in. The man is smart or he has some very savvy advisor/speechwriters, which amounts to almost the same thing. This could be his “Checkers” moment.

  4. Very remarkable that two young, Cuban Americans are in the Senate and are serious candidates for President.

  5. Cruz: “The apology was unnecessary — no offense was taken, nor, I believe, intended — but is certainly appreciated.”

    Good Lord! It would be great if we had more people utter these words! instead of the thin-skinned grievance mongers who take offense at the drop of a hat (often on behalf of someone else) and expect you to grovel for an absolution that WILL NOT be forthcoming.

    Does this make him a hero? Probably, but it shouldn’t. It is just that the bar has been set so low.


    • I agree, and that’s often the case I face with Ethics Hero candidates: they are doing the obviously right thing—telling the truth, being fair, following the Golden Rule, not being pricks.

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