This weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) responded to the story Mother Jones published last week that revealed inflammatory remarks made by his father, Rafael Cruz, a Cuban-born, septuagenarian businessman-turned-pastor. Speaking to the North Texas Tea Party last year on behalf of his son, the elder Cruz called President Barack Obama an "outright Marxist" who "seeks to destroy all concept of God." At that event, Rafael Cruz also urged the crowd to send Obama "back to Kenya." Or ship him "back to Indonesia," he said. Asked to comment on his father's remarks, Sen. Cruz's office told us, "These selective quotes, taken out of context, mischaracterize the substance of Pastor Cruz's message." It added, "Pastor Cruz does not speak for the senator." Yet after the story was posted, when a Texas television station questioned the senator directly about his father's statements, Ted Cruz dismissed them as a "joke." He went on to claim the article was the result of "the politics of personal destruction" and an effort by people "trying to smear [Rafael Cruz] and use that to attack me."
There's a lot to unpack here. Does Ted Cruz believe it's a joke to accuse the president of trying to destroy God? Or that his father was kidding when he suggested Obama is "wicked," asserted that the president is attempting to "destroy American exceptionalism," said Obama wants government to be God, and insisted that "social justice is a cancer"? As for attacking the son with the father's statements, the senator did not explain why it's unfair to hold him accountable for remarks made by a person Cruz's campaign routinely deployed as an official surrogate. According to campaign disclosure records, Cruz's Senate campaign paid Rafael Cruz about $10,000 in traveling expenses in 2012 and 2013. And in August the conservative National Review noted that the father-son duo had forged a "political partnership," reporting: "Cruz has kept his father, a 74-year-old pastor, involved with his political shop, using him not merely as a confidant and stand-in, but as a special envoy. He is Cruz’s preferred introductory speaker, his best messenger with evangelicals, and his favorite on-air sidekick." Put it this way: Rafael Cruz is far closer to Ted Cruz and his political endeavors than Jeremiah Wright was to Obama and his campaigns.
I've asked Ted Cruz's office to explain whether the senator considered all of Rafael Cruz's harsh utterances about Obama to be jokes and whether he'd like to comment on Rafael Cruz's role as an official campaign surrogate. So far, there's been no reply.
There might be a much bigger issue regarding Ted Cruz's response to the article about his father. In July, the senator, with his father by his side, accepted the blessings of fundamentalist pastors in Iowa (see above) who are adherents of Christian Reconstructionism, a view that holds that God anoints individuals to be "kings" who strive to influence or control key institutions of society (say, the government) as a prelude to the second coming of Christ. The blessing of Ted Cruz contained this line: "Father, we believe that no weapon formed against [Cruz] will prosper and every tongue that rises up against him in judgment will be condemned."
This blessing seems to suggest that the pastors believe that those who criticize Ted Cruz will be condemned by God. This certainly seems in sync with Rafael Cruz's remarks and his preaching at religious gatherings of fellow evangelicals. But a serious question is raised: does Ted Cruz himself see his detractors as being on the wrong side of God? Can those who raise inconvenient questions about him or his father expect to receive a mighty smiting from above?
This is no joke. Such a mindset—my detractors are destined for hell—could certainly affect how Cruz would govern, should he reach the pinnacle of power. Given that he willingly accepted this blessing, it would hardly be inappropriate to ask Cruz what he thought of it. Actually, I did. Along with those queries noted above, I asked his office whether Senator Cruz believes that his critics will be condemned by God? No answer yet on that, either. I suppose those who report unflattering facts about the senator may have to wait until Judgment Day to see if those Cruz-courted pastors have it right.
UPDATE: After this story was posted, Sean Rushton, a spokesman for Sen. Ted Cruz sent the following response: "Sen. Cruz loves and supports his father, even though their views and perspectives are not always the same. The Constitution protects Mr. Corn's right to embrace whatever faith he chooses—or no faith whatsoever—but, it is unfortunate that his agenda would call for the public condemnation of Christian pastors who pray verbatim from the Bible (namely, Isaiah 54:17)."