Ted Cruz blasted by Texas newspaper for 'performative tantrum' during Supreme Court nomination hearings

Ted Cruz blasted by Texas newspaper for 'performative tantrum' during Supreme Court nomination hearings
Sen. Ted Cruz // Screengrab

The influential Dallas Morning News is blasting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for what some are calling his "performative tantrum" during his questioning of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson last week. The newspaper asserts that the Texas senator plainly was angling for soundbites to include in TV spots for his widely expected 2024 presidential run.

"What’s a woman? Are babies racist? Why are you so soft on child porn defendants?" were some of the more incendiary inquiries he lobbed at Jackson, apparently trying to trick the jurist into giving him fodder for campaign commercials. The Dallas newspaper opines, "Sen. Ted Cruz’s combative examination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson left little doubt that he had 2024 on his mind."

Two senators publicly called out Cruz for his obvious grandstanding. “The junior senator from Texas likes to get on television,” blurted an exasperated Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, at one point as Cruz tried to interject out of turn. Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska was equally critical, telling Jackson: “We should recognize that the jackassery we often see around here is partly because of people mugging for short-term camera opportunities.”

The paper points out, however, that what Democrats called grandstanding played well with Republicans who will screen contenders for the White House.

“He’s doing his job,” said Chris Ager, the Republican national committee member in New Hampshire, which hosts the first primary every four years. “And the best thing that you can do if you want to achieve a higher office is to do the job you’re currently in very well.”

"The grilling that Cruz gave Jackson on critical race theory alone — a potent culture-war topic — scored points with the conservative base, though it also drew some of Jackson’s most disdainful glares of the hearings," the Morning News noted.

According to Tim Hagle, a political scientist at the University of Iowa, Cruz's line of questioning about critical race theory served double duty. “The short-term goal is to suggest that a particular nominee is problematic,” he said, which could deter any wavering GOP senators from giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Politically, he said, it resonates with precisely the voters Cruz wants to impress if he makes another run at the White House.
“That might be something that Ted Cruz could talk about on the campaign trail,” Hagle said.

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