Ted Cruz, a vessel into which has been poured the bitter resentment of every young child who ever tried and failed to be the class clown because they simply weren’t funny, is back in the news again. And once more, it’s for the same reason he almost always gets attention: His desperate use of pop culture.
See, way back in the days of the 2016 Presidential primaries, I noted that Ted Cruz has been a human punching bag for most of his life, for the basic but accurate reason that nearly every human being who has ever met him hates him. Ted Cruz is like Tom Hanks in reverse: Everyone he encounters turns into another person who wishes he would disappear forever. But Ted Cruz has one trait that he treasures above all else—his embrace of pop culture. It’s the only way he knows how to communicate with others in a manner resembling normal communication, the sole lodestone shoring up the crumbling arch that is Cruz’s humanity. As any A.V. Club reader knows, pop culture is a wonderful shorthand for bonding among people whom otherwise might have little in common, the common lingua franca of our realm. And Ted Cruz clings to it like white flecks to the side of his mouth.
And so Cruz has once again deployed his “act like a sane person” shtick, this time, as The Hill reports, during an interview about gun control at the Conservative Political Action conference. After his interviewer, The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, joked about the gun control debate being like an episode of The Simpsons that addressed the same issue, Ted Cruz, his alien receptors picking up an opportunity to activate his pop-culture database in an effort to again fool the population into believing his “everyday guy” act, piped up: “The Democrats are the party of Lisa Simpson and Republicans are happily the party of Homer, Bart, Maggie and Marge.”
Yes, Ted Cruz has apparently watched The Simpsons his entire adult life without once realizing that Lisa is the smartest member of the family, and the only one who routinely offers sensible suggestions about ways to improve the world. So far, so unexpected. But better still, it once again proves right our theory: That the claymation-looking Senator from Texas has nothing in his life to cling to except pop culture, his only remaining vestige of normalcy. He whips these references out with gusto because they’re all he has. But it’s not in a relatable way, how you or I might try to find common bonds via our shared knowledge of Game Of Thrones, or whatever. It’s just an act to him. In 2016, I said, “Cruz treats these moments as performances; he doesn’t wait to hear from the recipient of his recitations, and forge some connection beyond the entertainment object itself. For him, it’s a one-sided presentation. It must be painful to be informed, over and over, that you’re a supremely dislikable person. Such cutting sentiments could make a person very empathetic—or very bitter.”
Ted Cruz: The Energizer bunny of sad pop culture allusions. He just keeps going, and going, and going. The only difference is, no one wants his energy. Poor man.