Ted Cruz goes on Tucker to try to walk back his words about January 6
On Wednesday, Tucker Carlson made most Republicans aware of the fact that Ted Cruz referred to events on January 6, 2021, as a "violent terrorist attack on the Capitol." On Thursday, Ted Cruz appeared on Tucker's show to try to walk back what he said.
Tucker was brutal with him. This was a good thing because it showed that conservatives have more integrity than Democrats when it comes to calling their own side out. It also gave Cruz the chance to repent and fight his way back into conservatives' good graces.
Thomas Lifson wrote about Cruz's peculiar statement here.
There are lots of theories as to why Cruz said what he said. Tucker called him a Merrick Garland puppet; Thomas Lifson thinks he's angling for the Supreme Court; and one friend suggested that he was trying to avoid the Democrat lynch mob, led by Marc Elias, which announced a plan to use January 6 to bar Republicans from running for Congress.
Whatever Cruz's future political plans are, they're not going to happen if every conservative in America (but for the handful of NeverTrumps who are turning into leftists) hates him. That's why, the moment Cruz heard about Tucker's show, he shot a text to Tucker, begging to be allowed on the next day's show to set the record straight. And so it was that Cruz showed up on Tucker's Thursday night show:
If Cruz thought appearing on Fox News with a conservative host was going to be a cakewalk — apologize, receive Tucker's absolution, and chitchat a bit — he was sorely mistaken. Cruz tried to say that he just misspoke ("it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb"), only to have Tucker come back with "I don't buy that." He pointed out that Cruz is one of the smartest, most articulate people around, and he doesn't just misspeak.
Cruz shifted to saying that his "sloppy phrasing" led people to misunderstand what he meant. What he really meant was that all assaults against police are violent terrorist acts. Cruz explained that, for a decade, and especially during 2020, he has consistently referred to violent attacks on the police as terrorist attacks, and that was what he was saying here. And it is true that, in the offending video, immediately after mentioning the terrorist attack, Cruz does praise the Capitol Hill Police.
In other words, Cruz says he was sloppy because he reflexively used the same expression he's used before. He never meant to impugn Trump-supporters. But as Trump snapped back, while all people who physically attack the police are criminals, the January 6 people are not terrorists. Cruz, he pointed out, should have been savvy enough not to fall into the hyperbolic nomenclature that the Democrats have been using, no matter how much he wanted to praise the police.
Image: Tucker Carlson grills Ted Cruz. Rumble screen grab.
Cruz could only reiterate what he'd said before and explain, again, that it was a mistake to say that in the context of the January 6 protests. He ended on two strong notes. First, he admitted his mistake: "I agree it was a mistake to use the word yesterday because the Democrats and the corporate media have so politicized it, they're trying to paint everyone as a terrorist and it's a lie." Second, he said he was the one leading the fight in the Senate against this January 6 garbage.
We'll never know whether Cruz was trying to protect himself from Democrat attacks or had lazily swung into what is, for him, a standard stump speech. I'm inclined to the latter point.
For example, in August, in the context of the January 6 prisoners, Cruz again made a strong statement about attacking the police: "If an individual assaulted a police officer, they should spend a long, long time in jail." At the same time, he made it clear to shocked HuffPo apparatchiks that he believed that, for those who did not violently attack the police but were instead engaged in nonviolent political speech and protest, the Biden administration was "targeting and persecuting" people.
There's no doubt that Cruz dealt himself a serious blow when he referred to "terrorists" on January 6 because he appeared deeply disloyal to those who had aligned with him on January 6 when he objected to the supposed Electoral College results. Cruz also gave massive ammunition to leftists.
However, appearing on the Tucker show did give him a chance to explain the context of his ill chosen words, as well as to apologize. Tucker later praised him both for coming onto the show and for admitting his mistake. It remains to be seen whether conservatives will forgive him. I'm probably a little more forgiving than most because I write so much. I occasionally fall into a beaten path and say the wrong thing out of habit, so his excuse is credible to me.
Regardless of my personal feelings about the merits of Cruz's defense, in the unlikely event that 2024 boils down to a fight between whatever Democrat party candidate and Ted Cruz, I'm voting for Cruz. At the end of the day, I'm not going to be stupid enough to turn my back on a highly intelligent man who has a consistently conservative voting record.