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'Handsome Ted Cruz Really Made Great Point,' Said No One Of Last Night's Beto-Cruz Debate

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Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz held their second and final debate last night in Austin San Antonio, with O'Rourke changing tactics a little and going on the attack against Cruz, even reminding voters that Donald Trump's nickname for Cruz, "Lyin' Ted," caught on because Cruz sure does lie a lot. Like, almost as much as Trump does. Cruz, for his part, threw the word "extreme" at O'Rourke so frequently we expected a trademark infringement suit from Doritos or Mountain Dew. We also really enjoyed the part where, after a question about "civility," Cruz cut off a follow-up from the moderator, snapping "Don't interrupt me, Jason!"

Let's do some highlights!


If you want to watch the whole thing, here it is!

Here's Beto nailing the first question, with a bilingual thank you to the organizers of the debate, followed by concerns about election security and a note that Ted Cruz voted against additional funding for election security. Pretty good use of 90 seconds, huh?

When the moderators asked Cruz about his own denial of the scientific consensus on climate change, Cruz sidestepped the question and accused O'Rourke of voting to raise everyone's gas taxes because Beto hates Texans and their freedom. Fact check: O'Rourke never voted for a bill to do that, but he opposed a GOP resolution condemning an Obama proposal to fund infrastructure, including mass transit, partially through fuel taxes. Instead of getting into the weeds on that, Beto unleashed his own jujitsu move on Cruz, reminding everyone that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz used to just HATED each other:

Senator Cruz is not going to be honest with you. He's going to make up positions and votes that I never held or have never taken. He's dishonest. It's why the president called him Lyin' Ted, and it's why the nickname stuck. Because it's true.

Cruz smirked and chuckled in that insufferable smirkchuckly way Cruz does (if they ever remake Catch-22, cast him as Captain Aardvark, the infuriatingly oblivious navigator), and the moderator asked him to reply to the actual question: If climate change is a hoax, then is Texas-based Exxon-Mobil wrong to say climate is a serious concern?

Pfft, as if Cruz was going to stick to that! Instead, he uncorked a putdown he'd already prepared for: "It's clear Congressman O'Rourke's pollsters have told him to come out on the attack." Then he got to the serious "science": Climate is always changing, and nobody really knows whether it's caused by humans, but the radical liberals want to take away your freedom! Cruz also bragged that he's so good at science that he chairs the Senate Science Committee -- although he didn't mention he's made defunding climate science a priority.

And so it went -- at every turn, Cruz painted O'Rourke as a radical extremist who wants to force you to ride a bike to Lubbock, take away your gun, and pay for illegal aliens to have abortions, probably right in your church. Cruz even managed to go on the attack while sanctimoniously calling for civility, because what could possibly be more uncivil than all this "anger" and "rage on the far left"? Then he told the moderator to shut up, because Cruz had an important point about civility.

For rightwing Texans, all the "extremist" talk may generate enough fear to get the job done, but it's worth noting that the debate's only significant laugh from the studio audience (which had been warned to be on its best behavior) came when Cruz accused O'Rourke and Democrats of planning a REAL government shutdown in which they'll impeach Saint Donald Trump and run a "partisan circus." Beto replied, "It's really interesting to hear you talk about a partisan circus, after your last six years in the US Senate."

In their closing statements, O'Rourke called on Texans to reject the politics of fear, and the Trump vision of "walls, Muslim bans, the press as the enemies of the people, taking kids away from their parents." (His Twitter team followed up by reminding voters that Cruz once said, "When you see reporters, when you see Democrats saying don't separate kids from their parents, what they're really saying is don't arrest illegal aliens.")

Cruz tried to turn that around and accuse O'Rourke of running a campaign based on fear, explaining that if O'Rourke were in the Senate, he'd tear down all the walls between Texas and Mexico, give everyone welfare, force socialized medicine and abortion on you, and probably dismantle the police, too. He followed that nightmare vision by saying, while wearing the best approximation of a straight face Ted Cruz can manage, "Do we choose fear, or do we choose hope? I believe in hope."

So that's nice: Ted Cruz is now Barack Obama, the end.

[CBS News / Vox / Texas Tribune / Slate]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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