The champion heckler of the U.S. Senate was finally heckled right off stage.
Yes, shocking as it is, it's finally happened. Houston's own Sen. Ted Cruz has proved impervious to censure, to disapproval and even to heckling since his big leap onto the national political stage back in 2012. This is the dude who read Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor during a fake filibuster over Obamacare, ignoring the fact that Republican party leaders looked like they were trying to make him burst into flames with the sheer force of their collective minds. Talking is what he does. Heck, he helped talk the federal government right into a shutdown.
The leaders of his own party can't quiet him down, and run-of-the-mill hecklers are generally, like flies buzzing around his ears during a speech, more irritants than things that will actually make him stop speaking. When people don't like what he is saying or when they question the often questionable logic that Cruz so often twists and bends to suit his own political purposes, Cruz just keeps talking. And talking. And talking.
But Cruz finally met his match on Wednesday evening when speaking at an event focused on the plight of Christians in the Middle East. He had already gotten some flack from the folks who are on the far, far right (aka the Tea Party) for agreeing to be the keynote speaker at the event, In Defense of Christians, in the first place, because, you know, these were Middle Eastern Christians and all. So of course Cruz must have carefully tailored his message for his audience. Kind of. "Christians have no greater ally than Israel," he told the crowd, according to Salon. Things quickly went south. He got up on stage and admonished the crowd to support Israel, describing those who do not choose to do so as people "consumed with hate." Shockingly enough this didn't sit well with his audience. His statement was met with a chorus of boos.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Cruz handled this with his usual aplomb. When the audience refused to listen to him -- he was originally supposed to be talking about how rough things are for minority Christian groups in the Middle East -- he decided to pack up his toys and go home. While the director of the event tried to calm everybody down, Cruz popped off, albeit in political-ese. "I will say this. I am saddened to see that some here, not everyone, but some here are so consumed with hate. I will say this, if you will not stand with Israel and the Jews then I will not stand with you. Thank you and God bless you." This was met with another roar of booing and a smattering of applause as synthesized string music swelled and Cruz bolted from the stage.
Of course, this will all play beautifully for Cruz with his target audience, the Tea Party, appeasing the folks who were so outraged he was there in the first place. Cruz has proved time and again that, despite the words that seem to endlessly stream from his mouth, he's not actually stupid. It's entirely possible he changed topics and tanked the whole thing on purpose. Some will look at this and start thinking about the question of Israel, but that's not what really grabbed us about this whole deal. He actually stopped talking, y'all.
After all this time, after so many hours of so much talking, Cruz finally met his match and exited a spotlight. It's entirely possible he did it on purpose, but let's not think about that right now. Let's enjoy this rare moment. After all, Cruz is doing all the things one does when White House-fever has gotten into the blood, so we'll likely be hearing a lot more from him in the coming months. There's no telling if he'll ever meet another crowd willing to heckle him right off the stage.