The Redemption of Ted Cruz? - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Redemption of Ted Cruz?

I want to be fair to Ted Cruz after last week.

Cruz, while questioning the chief of the Capitol Police in a Senate hearing dealing with the Jan. 6, 2021, fracas, created a controversy on the right when he used the words “violent terrorist attack” to describe what, in other circumstances, CNN and MSNBC might have called a “mostly peaceful protest.”

I let him have it over that:

As you can see, what’s at play here is an attempt to have a respectful but productive dialogue about security at the U.S. Capitol, something nobody should get bent out of shape about, and Cruz is attempting to set the stage for that with Manger by placing himself in the camp opposed to the knuckleheads battling it out with cops under the Capitol rotunda.

But Ted Cruz has to be a whole lot smarter than this.

Because what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was not a “violent terrorist attack.” It was a protest which got out of hand, for whatever reason (whether pushed that way by agents provocateurs under the employ of the feds or others, for example), and turned into a small riot.

For Ted Cruz to call it such feeds into the narrative Melissa correctly identified on Monday, to no viable purpose. It’s a stupid mistake on Cruz’s part, and he has rightly been pilloried for it.

“The minute you call it a ‘violent terrorist attack on the capitol,’ you lose most of your standing when complaining about the DOJ, Dems and Media because they have diff views than you how to handle a ‘violent terrorist attack on the capitol,’” said Twitter commentator Yossi Gestetner. “Cruz accepts the narrative that lawmakers were about to be lynched despite the fact that many hundreds calmly walked in the Capitol taking selfies and not moving rope lines. It was mostly calm where PD was not at hand. Bloodthirsty terrorists leaving things mostly neat? Haha.

“It’s very possible that Ted Cruz used this language to help bury Trump for 2024 since @tedcruz sees himself as next in line for the nomination.”

Is the accusation that all of this is about trying to kneecap Trump in advance of 2024 legitimate?

If so, it’s misplaced and counterproductive. And having been through this once already, Cruz should know better.

You are not going to displace Donald Trump as the leader of the new populist conservative Right. If Trump is to be replaced that will only happen organically. Attempts to actively replace him — especially using Jan. 6 as a tool to do so — will only get you branded, rightly or not, as an establishment RINO. Cruz is probably still shellshocked six years on at the fact despite having built a nearly pristine record as a conservative iconoclast within the GOP he’s still being tarred as a tool of Goldman Sachs and a functionary of the establishment by some in the MAGA crowd.

Cruz absolutely cannot fix that perception by calling the Jan. 6 protesters “terrorists.” It’s bad form when so many of those protesters are languishing in Washington’s version of the Chateau d’If prison from The Count of Monte Cristo — and not on charges of assaulting cops but for trespassing — a year on with neither bail nor trial on their horizons.

But my treatment of the senator was kid-gloves compared to what happened to Cruz that night on Tucker Carlson’s show:

At my site, I had a little commentary on the exchange that I’m repeating because it bears mention based on what happened Tuesday:

Carlson said he doesn’t believe Cruz, in that he doesn’t think the use of “terrorist” to describe these people was sloppy. Cruz’ response that he’s always used “terrorist” to describe people who attack the police isn’t a lie; we’ve heard him do that before.

What we’d say is this is a case where a politician is now paying the price for using demagogic language. Because if you’re going to be consistent in overusing the word “terrorist,” you’re ultimately going to get yourself into trouble.

“Thug” would be a better word. “Outlaw” works as well. “Barbarian” will do. “Terrorist” has a specific connotation, and frankly it’s sloppy and stupid to elevate most of the knuckleheads who want to fight with cops on the streets or during a riot into status as “terrorists.”

And Carlson is correct to reject Cruz’ characterization.

What Cruz ought to do is apologize for his phrasing and pledge to keep “terrorist” in his pocket for use only when appropriate.

And then he should get involved in demanding that the denizens of Nancy Pelosi’s Chateau d’If be set free. It’s a direct stain on the federal government’s escutcheon for those people to still be in prison more than a year after Jan. 6, and it’s time for the Republican Party to take some leadership in getting them out of there. At this point it no longer serves as a defense of last year’s Capitol riot to take up their plight; it’s simply human decency and perspective. A year in a dungeon for trespassing equates to serving as a political prisoner, and we shouldn’t have that in a free country.

If Cruz wants to get back in the good graces of the movement he’s served his entire political life, then this is the mission he ought to take on.

It seems like Cruz was listening. Not just to me, but to lots of others on the right who were vocal in our dissatisfaction that he would willingly tie himself into the stupid, over-the-top narratives about Jan. 6 that Team D is so vituperative in weaponizing against all Republicans. It’s so bad now that Andrew McCabe, the disgraced slimeball G-man who actively participated in an attempted coup d’etat against a duly elected president and got away with it, on Monday had the unmitigated chutzpah to liken mainstream Republicans to ISIS, in the sense that “mass radicalization” is going on inside the party as January 6 exemplified, and then suggested brownshirt tactics and open repression to solve the problem.

Under those circumstances, and with Tucker Carlson getting in his face with a Ron Burgundy–style “I don’t believe you” as he attempted to explain his slight of the Jan. 6 protesters, Cruz came out firing. Because this happened:

He didn’t quite demand the end of Pelosi’s Chateau d’If, but Cruz was definitely moving in that direction. He lit up the FBI’s national security director with a whole host of uncomfortable questions about feds stirring that protest into a riot, probably knowing that Jill Sanborn couldn’t give him an answer to any questions along those lines — and also knowing just how bad that would look.

Because the FBI is not in a position where it can openly lie to a U.S. senator in an official hearing, and giving an answer that doesn’t relieve the pressure would be a lie. Sanborn knew that, Cruz knew it, all of us know it.

The people in the street who heard Ray Epps exhort them into the Capitol knew it. That’s why they yelled “Fed!” at him in response to his demands to turn the protest into a riot. And there is no credible denial possible that Ray Epps, or some of the other apparent instigators of the festivities at the Capitol on Jan. 6 of last year, were federal informants. Anything short of that and it’s impossible to understand why the instigated are moldering in Chateau d’If while the instigators are free to move about the country.

Cruz went there, and he humiliated Sanborn and the FBI in the process. No sooner did he start this fire but Pelosi’s Jan. 6 Commission stumbled into it with a leaky gas can:

Bonchie at RedState had the right response:

So, let me get this straight. The January 6th Committee, which supposedly cares deeply about holding people accountable, not only has no interest in Epps, but they are now operating as his PR firm? Does any of that smell right to you?

He went further and asked the obvious question: if Bennie Thompson, the Mudbone Javert who runs Pelosi’s illegal inquisition, can confidently assure us that Ray Epps is no fed, then how is it that Ray Epps isn’t rotting away in solitary confinement, scratching “God Will Give Me Justice” into a crumbly concrete wall as his life slips away like the people he talked into the building on Jan. 6?

The obvious answer, of course, is that Mudbone Javert has so little respect for the truth that he’ll say anything he’s told to say. And if that means denying that Obvious Fed Ray Epps is a fed, then he’s good with it.

Cruz stepped in it last week with the stupid quote about “violent terrorist attacks” on Jan. 6. But he stirred up a delightful shambles when he let Sanborn and the assistant deputy attorney general, whose last name was Olson (I didn’t catch his first name and it doesn’t matter; he had no answers to offer about the Jan. 6 charges and imprisonments despite his agency stonewalling Senate inquiries for six solid months), have both barrels.

This isn’t just empty rhetoric. These are the kinds of fireworks it’s going to take to stir up enough public interest and discontent to make it impossible for the current false Jan. 6 narratives to persist.

Cruz did a good job Tuesday. Let’s have more of this than the gaffes of last week.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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