A couple of months back, my wife and I were having dinner in a local restaurant. While waiting for our meal, I became aware that the two women seated at the table closest to ours were discussing politics, so naturally I had to try and hear what they were saying. “Well,” one of them said, “I like Ben Carson. But I think I’m going to support Ted Cruz, because you know he knows the constitution better than any of the others.” I almost spit my margarita through my nose.
Cruz might have done himself a service if he had sat in on Professor Obama’s constitutional law class, because there is at least one part of the constitution that he seems to be completely clueless about – the part that says someone is innocent until proven guilty. And if he really understands the constitution, he certainly knows that it is not the president who sentences people to jail, it’s a judge. You know, a judge like those who Cruz likes to criticize.
We know that political speeches are red meat for the base. There is all sorts of rhetoric that gets thrown around, and generally nobody takes it too seriously. But there’s something about Ted Cruz that makes you suspect that in his case, he takes what he says absolutely seriously. So when he talks about keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House, and says something like this, we should all be concerned:
I’ve got slightly different government housing in mind for her.
It was clear to everyone that Cruz was suggesting that he would put Clinton in jail if he became president. And it was far from the first time. Cruz has been jokingly saying that both Clinton and President Obama should be in jail for months.
Cruz has been beating the drum over the faux scandal surrounding Clinton and her email server for some time. Back in December he cracked this joke to a crowd in Iowa:
Imagine you’re a Democratic politician. I’m sorry, that’s a terrible thing to do to you. But imagine for a second: You’re Hillary Clinton. This does kind of look like Leavenworth.
Leavenworth, as you are probably aware, is a federal prison in Kansas.
With Cruz, this is more than campaign rhetoric. It seems to be an obsession. The Guardian’s Rory Carroll tweeted this from Cruz’s California campaign rally:
Ted Cruz crowd snapping up jail Hillary badges. Last election I covered with candidate jail threats was Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/tboCu1yZlJ
— Rory Carroll (@rorycarroll72) April 11, 2016
Talk is cheap, and Cruz definitely knows how to wind up an audience. He gets that from his insane evangelist father. But Cruz leaves you with the impression that like some third world dictator he would be more than happy to put his political opponents in jail, especially if he thinks it would appeal to his supporters. Google the phrase “Ted Cruz demagogue” and look at the stories in the results and you’ll see what I mean.
In addition to not knowing the constitution, Cruz also doesn’t seem to be very aware of history. Because if he knew 20th century American history, he would know that we had a president named Richard Nixon who thought he could do all manner of things to his political opponents. It didn’t end well for him.
Featured image via David McNew/Getty Images