Ethics Dunce (and Ethics Hero REVOKED): Sen. Ted Cruz


Uh-uh, Senator. You can’t have it both ways, not on Ethics Alarms. You can’t be gracious and forgiving and then turn around a couple days later and say what your red meat supporters want to hear. I call that an “Al Gore,” who gave a magnanimous and statesman-like speech conceding after the Supreme Court stopped the 2000 Florida recount, and then slammed the legitimacy of his defeat ever after.

Ethics Alarms gave the Republican rabblerouser an Ethics Hero designation for coming to pundit Mark Halperin’s defense when he was being pilloried all over the media for a demeaning interview of Cruz based on the assumption that he needed to prove that he was really Hispanic. After Halperin was battered into apologizing, Cruz said, in part,

“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.”

That was classy, and also apparently, a ploy and insincere.In comments about the episode to the conservative IJReview at an  American Conservative Union event, Senator Cruz essentially recycled the same Halperin critic complaints that his earlier comments were supposed to deflect, saying,

“Imagine if [Halperin] had asked Obama these same questions? He would have been run out of the industry.”

But no offense was taken, right, Ted?

Not cool, not kind, and definitely not consistent. The fact that he is absolutely correct about the double standard is beside the point. Cruz couldn’t help himself. He knew the right way to act (that is, his ethics alarms work and he can follow the Golden Rule), but he didn’t have the self-restraint or integrity to resist taking a shot at Halperin anyway. Now we know what he really thinks, and now we know that what he said initially was just a smart politician taking a high road that he didn’t want to be on.

Got it.

Fool me once, Ted…

Ethics Hero REVOKED

27 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce (and Ethics Hero REVOKED): Sen. Ted Cruz

  1. It’s possible he thinks that Halperin’s piece really shouldn’t be considered so offensive but is still bothered by the double standard. There is nothing necessarily in conflict between the two statements. I’d like to see the full context, but IJReview only provides snippets.

    • Actually, later in the article: “The Senator told IJReview the racially charged questions were ‘silly’ and ‘ridiculous’, but said he did not think Halperin needed to apologize:
      ‘The media is a disaster and this is a perfect example of their double standards.’ “

      • And if it’s a double standard and the interview was an example of it, then 1) an apology is appropriate 2) Halperin was not being fair, as such double standards are not fair, and 3) a media disaster is not competent, which is the implication of “serious.”

        • If his statement you quoted, and the one I quoted, were in response to a question from about whether it was an example of a double standard, would that change how you feel about it?

          I still think it’s plausible he thinks the media double standard is an issue that stands on it’s own AND that the media should be able to ask stupid racially charged questions without excessive response. The word “this” in the quote I provided is not clear. It could have been referring to the media response to the interview, which is harsh but not career ending, rather than to the interview itself.

          • “This” refers to the Halperin interview. I don’t see it as ambiguous. He said the questions were “silly” in his earlier absolution of Haperin. Unfair questions, racist questions and questions that embarrass the interviewee aren’t “silly,’ they are bad journalism and unprofessional. Cruz is unusually articulate and erudite—he knows wat words mean. “If you were a tree, what kind would you be?”, Baba’s idiotic question to Jimmy Carter, is silly. “So, you’re Cuban—would you sing a little “Babaloo” for us?” isn’t just silly, it’s demeaning. I thought Cruz was bending over backwards to give Halperin a break by saying an apology wasn’t necessary—easy to say, since he had already received one. Using the incident later to say, in effect, “No, he doesn’t have to apologize because he’s just like all the other slanted, biased journalists out there, using questions on me that they know would get them fired if they did the same to a black Democrat” is a bait and switch. Bait and switches are “consistent” in one way or another, that’s why they work. They are also dishonest.

  2. Is it possible he was saying: “Yeah, no offense was taken, because none should be taken, but there’s a level of hypocrisy among the left, where we all know they would have taken offense, and they need to lighten up”?

    I think I’m spinning.

    • No, I’m ready to double down. The targets of his two statements were different. One was regarding what Halperin did, and the other was a criticism of Halperin’s audience.

        • You’re spinning too. See my last comment. You really think, after his subsequent comments, his response could be called magnanimous? Would he make those two sets of comments at the same time: “He’s a fair journalist who employs a blatant double-standard”? Seriously?

          • Why can’t Cruz give Halperin a pass personally while attacking the media double standard and Halperin’s role in it? I am a litigator and I do this all the time — praising or at least not attacking opposing counsel while attacking what that counsel says or does when it hurts my client. Sometimes this is disingenuous and tactical, and sometimes it is accompanied by genuine respect for my adversary. But either way it is what I do to practice law competently without being a jerk (in my own mind, at least!).

            I don’t see why politics should be any different. Cruz can be decent to a journalist who asked him some stupid questions while making a substantive objection to the interview. The players should not be criticized for being personally decent to each other even where there are serious disagreements.

  3. Thanks for confirming that I’m also now done with your blog. Apparently in your world of “consistency”, once Mr. Cruz chooses to be magnanimous in skillfully minimizing and dismissing Halperin’s blatant “gotcha” interview attacks, he is forbidden from ever again discussing the nature of that particular interview and the clear double standard it represented. Should he choose to do so, then in your view he has betrayed his true feelings and disclosed his initial response as a calculated lie.
    Inherent and essential to your deduction is the assumption that this topic is somehow a zero sum game. You apparently deem it impossible to at once be politely dismissive of such abusive tactics as merely the inconsequential fumblings from biased reporters that intelligent politicians can learn to accept without rancor, while at the same time recognizing and, perhaps later, discussing the disingenuous double standard demonstrated by those tactics.
    For all of your claims to a single minded focus (laudable) in this blog on the isolated ethics questions in such events, without regard to whether the chips may fall painfully on the reader’s own biases, the fallacy of the reasoning above confirms a suspicion I’ve considered from other posts. I have pondered whether much of the harsh and absolute language you enjoy (as do I all too often) is merely a question of personality and aggressive argument style, or hinting of more suspect traits of bias or arrogance that permeates too much modern commentary. While I have not read enough to judge your history or leap to a conclusion about your bias, the eagerness you have for shouting “lie” based on slim and poorly reasoned evidence tells me I’ve seen enough. I applaud your focus and stated goals, enjoyed your aggression when it confirmed mine, and initially welcomed my occasional visceral distate as a healthy challenge to test my own bias. However, when dissecting the argument becomes too easy and challenges only my ability to let it stand without objection, the exercise is no longer healthy. You have much to offer, but I fear “you” have gotten in the way of your goals. Good luck with your obviously successful and prolific work.

    • You picked a really strange stop to get off on, bucko, and to my eye, didn’t come within a country mile of explaining your complaint. Yes, when someone says, I’m going to be magnanimous and let this guy’s career-gouging botch go—and taht doesn’t stop anyone, including me, from continuing the criticism—he is estopped from jumping back on the Bash Train, and if he does, then he forfeits any “gee, what a nice guy” kudos.

      Cruz is a fraud, that’s all. By the way, I said he was insincere. I did not say he lied. How I love to be accused of “shouting lie” in a post where I didn’t even whisper it. See, this is my business: I understand what a lie is. Cruz does too: he’s no dummy: “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” contains no provable lies, just carefully crafted double talk. “What? Why should a journalist apologize for what all liberals do? Take offense? Why would I take offense when I expected it! I said his questions were silly!”

      Yeah, he’s cute all right. Look, if you don’t want to learn, don’t.

      Anyone out there who can decipher the rest of the word salad this rant consists of, I’d be interested, sort of, in understanding what his bitch is. I assume he was waiting for a legitimate post to stage a grandstanding exit after I rejected his spin on the Careless Coaster, couldn’t find one, and settled on the current bizarre choice.

      That door swings one way: when you leave like this, you ban yourself.

  4. To be clear (though I think I was already), I have no problem with Cruz’s second set of comment in isolation. I expected that reaction at the first; it was mine, in fact. But you can’t take the high road, get your praise for turning the other cheek, and then jump down at the first opportunity. Imagine it from Halperin’s perspective: Imagine him calling Cruz privately, expressing gratitude for Cruz’s kind words, saying again that he regrets the interview, hears Cruz say, “Hey, we all make mistakes, my friend!” and then reads about Cruz bashing him the next day. He will think, “What a backstabbing fake!” And he’d be right.

    I have no idea what Randall was blathering about.

  5. Dammit, Ted!

    Oh, well… A bit disappointing, but politicians gonna politic. And anyway, it’s not the worst thing ™.

  6. “Now we know what he really thinks, and now we know that what he said initially was just a smart politician taking a high road that he didn’t want to be on.”

    “You can’t have it both ways, not on Ethics Alarms.”

    Both true. Cruz is a VERY smart politician talking out of both sides of his mouth, left for Jon Stewart & Co. and right for the Conservative Union. Too bad only the first way got the huge publicity.

    But Joed is probably right about the cheese.

    • Just in case that was misunderstood, I am noting Stewart as representing — like it or not — the popular news media, which probably includes the center as well as the left.

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