Sunday, September 11, 2016

An Interesting Distortion

Recently, I ran across an interesting claim. It was from a few months ago, when the primaries were still in full swing, and Trump supporters were eager to slam Ted Cruz. (Well, actually, even now it seems Trump is interested in slamming Cruz, much more than Hillary Clinton. I don't know why.) The claim was put forth by a few different Trump supporters, and was clearly an attempt to make Cruz look foolish, but the original source, not surprisingly, was the very liberal Mother Jones*.

And what was this claim? That Ted Cruz once tried to ban um... "marital aids", as the once called them**.

For those interested, the entire story can be found (in a somewhat biased form) in the Mother Jones article. The facts, as presented, are mostly accurate, with a few exceptions. But those exceptions are what makes this story interesting. For, while factually accurate, the spin it gives to those facts, is seriously misleading.

Let us start with the title. You see, from the title, and the claims, one would think that Cruz, as a legislator, had introduced a ban of said items. Or, maybe, while working in the attorney general's office had come up with a novel theory to prosecute users or sellers of such devices using an existing law. Or, even, had simply spoken out in public calling for making these items illegal.

Well, did he?

No.

The fact is, while working in the attorney general's office, not as attorney general, but simply as a legal underling, an existing law making the sale of such items illegal, had faced legal challenge and Cruz had been assigned the task of defending the law. That's it. No signs he asked for the case. Nothing. Just a case he was assigned by his boss. In short, he did his job, and undertook a defense decided upon by someone else.

But the distortion does not stop there. When there is mention of any decision, such as to appeal the ruling, the article, rather than rightly laying responsibility on attorney general Abbot, instead insists on attributing it to "Abbott and Cruz". Now, that sounds good if you want to malign Cruz, but the truth is, that is kind of like blaming the meter maid for placing the parking meter. Cruz was a staffer, he was not attorney general. he certainly had some input on whether or not to appeal, but in the end, it was not his call. Abbott, yes, he was the top man, he decided when cases were appealed to federal court, and especially to the Supreme Court. Cruz might have had input, but in the end, he did what his boss decided.

All of which misses a second point, of only slightly smaller importance. Even if Cruz were making these decisions, it is rather absurd to act as if he were fully personally invested in each case. Many people working in the attorney general's office have dedicated tremendous energy to cases about which they were indifferent, or maybe even opposed. Why? Because that is how one rises through the ranks. And, if one has other political aspirations, the way one makes a name. It is absolutely certain Cruz was not a champion for each and every case on which he worked. I am sure in more than one cases, he was not particularly interested in which way the decision went, at least as far as the law was concerned. But as a staff member, I bet he was invested in winning.

And that is what makes this article, and the claim, so absurd. Cruz was not fighting to ban marital aids. He was not even making the decision whether to fight. He was a staffer working under an attorney general who decided Cruz should defend an existing law. That's it. To make this sound like a personal crusade on the part of Cruz is dishonest in the extreme.

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* Not exactly surprising. As I pointed out many times, Trump's followers seem much more left than right. From worrying about globalists and slandering bankers, to their policies of protectionism and other anti-trade measures, they sound more the Occupy protestors on anti-WTO activists. Then again, I have always found the paleocon, nationalist wing of the GOP a strange match to small government and free trade conservatism. (See "What Does Not Kill You...", "The Problem With the Big Tent", "Predictability and Pragmatism - Why I Oppose Trump", "Not Sour Grapes, Rather a Matter of Principle", "A Brief Thought on Trump", "Trump and the Myth of the Outsider", "A Thought on Trump" and "The Trump Cult".)

** I try to keep my site as family friendly as possible. And while the more common term (the d-word), has a noble history, even appearing in the poetry of John Donne (fittingly, in his satire of lawyers -- who he accuses of striving to "outdo" said device), I find it more comfortable to resort to euphemisms in this case.

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