Will Texans Trade In Ted Cruz For Tofu-Loving, Cop-Bashing Beto O'Rourke?
Ted Cruz's long-held plans for world domination have hit a Kennedy-esque snag. Beto O'Rourke, who is human, is starting to poll dangerously close to the incumbent Texas senator, who has asked that they stop polling human beings but to his horror that's just not how elections work.
Fearing that O'Rourke's unbridled charisma will blind Texas voters, Cruz has unleashed his fully bridled charm to remind them what's at stake (or should I say "steak") in November's election.
Appearing at a packed campaign event at Schobels Restaurant in the South Texas town of Columbus on Saturday, Cruz said, "When I got here someone told me that even PETA was protesting and giving out barbecued tofu, so I got to say, they summed up the entire election: If Texas elects a Democrat, they're going to ban barbecue across the state of Texas."
Don't worry. No one's subjecting barbecued tofu to Texans or anyone else who enjoys food. The Geneva Convention is still in force. No, Cruz was just borrowing "jokes" from a mid-'80s Bob Hope special. Although the alleged Zodiac Killer received some "appreciate laughter," the whole affair reminded me of Jeb Bush's "please clap" moment but more desperate. Of course, like that game you play with fortune cookies, you can always sum up Cruz by adding "but more desperate" to any unflattering description.
Meanwhile, at a non-floundering campaign, O'Rourke was actually behaving like a leader. Recently, in Dallas, off-duty police officer Amber Guyger shot Botham Jean, a black man, in his own home for existing during false arrest. O'Rourke did not shy away from calling out this injustice to an overflow crowd at the Good Street Baptist Church in Dallas. This is bold. It's not exactly a political winner to challenge the latest police shooting of an unarmed black man. Barack Obama would usually drop in the polls at least five points if he admitted that he hadn't shot the unarmed black man himself. But O'Rourke seemed OK with not winning Guyger's vote.
"How can it be, in this day and age, in this very year, in this community, that a young man, African-American, in his own apartment, is shot and killed by a police officer," [O'Rourke said.] "And when we all want justice and the facts and the information to make an informed decision, what's released to the public? That he had a small amount of marijuana in his kitchen."
"That is not justice. That is not us. That can and must change," O'Rourke said of such shootings.
Beto's rallying words have already been called the “How Can It Be?" speech. When your opponent's public addresses have names, you're in trouble. No one's talking about the “Tofu" speech. I checked (I did not). O'Rourke campaigns as if he actually read books on leadership or even just bothered to look up "leadership" online, which is more than I think Cruz has ever done. His counter to O'Rourke's comments was predictable right-wing cop coddling ... but more desperate.
"I wish Beto O'Rourke and Democrats weren't so quick to always blame the police officer," Cruz said this weekend in an interview with KRIV-TV in Houston.
You know who else rushed to judgment and blamed the cop? The actual cop herself admits she shot Jean in his apartment. Did Cruz think this was in dispute? The actual cop herself! Guyger admits she shot Jean in his apartment. Did Cruz think this was in dispute? Guyger hasn't really helped Cruz much with her ludicrous "story" of wandering into the wrong apartment and thinking the actual resident was a burglar. Normally, cops have better explanations for shooting children in public parks or drivers in front of their kids. It's harder to get past shooting someone in their own home. You might be reading this at home and would prefer not to get shot before you reach my thrilling conclusion.
Cruz said that Botham Jean's killing is a "tragic situation where everyone is horrified by what happened." But he cautioned against jumping to conclusions, saying that the shooting may have been a "horrifying and horrific misunderstanding or it may be something else."
Who's jumping to conclusions? I calmly strolled to the conclusion that Botham was dead. What does Cruz mean by "misunderstanding"? Should Jean's family not have buried him? Did he just need Prince Charming to give him a creepy peck on the cheek?
"It may well be that two lives were destroyed that night," the Republican said on Saturday.
No, I think they counted and only one body was carted off to the morgue that night. O.J. Simpson was no longer invited to hip Hollywood parties after the deaths of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, and we were all deprived of his performance in future Naked Gun movies. But I wouldn't go so far as to say his life was just as "destroyed" as theirs. This is sociopath speak.
Cruz said it's important to remember that "we have a legal justice system to actually learn what the facts are, learn what happened."
Does Cruz think this is one of those movies with a twist ending and we need to wait to see how it plays out? Maybe it actually was her apartment? Maybe she was Botham Jean all along and now she's cured of her weird split personality?
"She may have been in the wrong," the senator said, referring to Guyger. "She's facing legal proceedings, and if a jury of her peers concludes that she behaved wrongly, then she'll face the consequences."
He sounds like the dean of a college discussing the accusations against a student for academic dishonesty. Guyger killed Jean in his house. She didn't try to pass off her cousin's essay on "Anna Karenina" as her own. I know kissing up to cops is like following the yellow brick road to Republican voters, but is it too much to ask that politicians maybe just focus on defending the cops who can manage to find their own couches in their own living rooms?
Steve Schmidt, former GOP strategist, said that Texas can do better than the "conniving and opportunistic" Cruz. After seeing O'Rourke's "How Can It Be?" speech, I think all of America can, as well.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).