MINOT, N.D. — We are not far removed from the grim spectacle of enraged Donald Trump supporters violently attacking the U.S. Capitol, so you'd think the vicious pile-on against Sen. Ted Cruz would give us pause.
The man's travel plans with his family were apparently leaked by an airline employee. Angry activists gathered at Cruz's private residence, the place where he lives with his wife and children, to hurl invective and abuse at the man.
After the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C., I thought that we were going to try to cool down these tantrums of populist rage?
I guess hate is OK, as long as it's directed at the right sort of people.
I don't hold Cruz in very high esteem.
Trump has publicly suggested that Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of JFK. He called Cruz's wife ugly. The Texas senator has responded by being one of the most loyal Trump toadies in Congress, leading the Quixotesque drive to overturn the election results last year.
Cruz's push to succeed Trump in leading his nascent right-wing populist movement is one of the most craven things I've seen in nearly two decades of writing bout politics.
I'm not inclined to defend the man.
Even so, was the Cruz family's trip to Cancun really that bad? Worthy of the heavy breathing activists and pundits it received?
As a practical matter, what can a U.S. senator do in response to widespread power outages that have their roots mostly in state-level energy policy?
"Can he make it warm out?" podcaster Joe Rogan quipped.
Cruz is not the governor of Texas. He is not an energy regulator. There are things for Congress to consider in the aftermath of the Great Power Outage of 2021 — they need to start by finally axing the massive handouts for wind energy which have created a bubble on our power grids — but Congress doesn't, and mostly shouldn't, act in the moment.
What Cruz could do, when his family was cold and suffering, is move them somewhere better. So he did that, and now he's a villain.
Many people have defended the opprobrium aimed at Cruz by suggesting the senator is guilty of "bad optics," but that's just an excuse. A thin veneer painted over an uglier truth, which is that the populist hordes served by social media and the news media punditocracy love to be outraged.
They love to hate.
There are so many things in the world, real problems needing policy solutions crafted by reasonable adults, which deserve our attention.
Where do we put it? On some jumped-up outrage over the "bad optics" of a husband and father trying to make his family comfortable.
Judge Cruz if you want, but if you do, keep some of that umbrage in reserve for yourself.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.