For quite some time, we've wondered whether there might be more to Ted Cruz than meets the eye. And by that, we don't mean that there might be some sort of reasonable ideology hiding behind the theatrics of Cruz's napalm-the-jungle style of politics. What we mean is, who is Ted Cruz really?
Conventional wisdom tells us that Cruz is the hard-right firebrand of the Lone Star State, a conservative's conservative for whom ideological purity trumps compromise or bipartisanship - the kind of guy who would lead the charge to shut down the federal government in a half-baked, last-ditch attempt to derail legislation that expanded healthcare coverage to millions of Americans.
But maybe Cruz is a totem, a symbol of what shrill partisan politics looks like when you follow it out to its most absurd conclusion. Maybe "Ted Cruz" is just an elaborate performance art project.
How else do you explain Cruz reciting Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham to filibuster Obamacare? Or him comparing the "oppression" of Obamacare to the torture and persecution his father faced in Cuba? Or that time he grilled Chuck Hagel during the Republican's confirmation hearing to become secretary of defense, questioning whether Hagel was ever bankrolled by the North Koreans.
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Our latest Cruz performance comes from the senator's response to President Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday night. Cruz promised to give the base an impassioned off-the-cuff retort, and boy did he deliver. But in the first video uploaded to YouTube by Cruz's social media team, a seemingly frustrated Cruz gives up and starts over at about the 45-second mark.
Cruz closes his eyes, grimaces, asks for a do-over, and then, boom, he's back into character. In what follows, Cruz somehow manages to utter the words "radical Islamic terrorism" no less than three times in 30 seconds.
Cruz -- like many, many performers before him -- seems to have perfected the art of self-important, masturbatory bullshit. Whether it's politics, performance, or both, you be the judge.