Many people, like Tucker Carlson, like to talk about how ‘smart’ Ted Cruz is — how articulate he is as a speaker, how carefully he chooses his words, how insightful his questions are during hearings.
But recently, Cruz caught some flak for referring to the January 6 Amble Around the Capitol™️ as a ‘violent terrorist attack.’ The flak was well-deserved because whatever that was, it wasn’t a terrorist attack by any stretch of the imagination.
So then he tried to backtrack, claiming that he just meant that anyone who violently attacks a police officer is a ‘terrorist’ and that he’s been saying that for years, even decades. But that just dug the hole deeper because if you attack a police officer who is trying to arrest you, you might be a ‘criminal,’ but you aren’t a ‘terrorist.’
In another attempt to rehabilitate his image, Cruz recently questioned a spokesperson for the FBI at a Senate hearing. He asked some very straightforward and important questions about whether any of the participants in the January 6, ah, event were working for, or cooperating with, the FBI. The answer to each question was the same: ‘I can’t answer that.’
Now, it’s remarkable that a federal employee would give an answer like that to a United States Senator at a hearing. But what’s more remarkable is that the senator would just let her get away with it.
A couple of pretty obvious follow-up questions spring to mind, such as: Are you saying that you can’t answer because you don’t know? Or that you won’t answer because you think we’re not entitled to the information?
Or: If you can’t answer, the FBI clearly sent the wrong person to this hearing. In which case, please bring someone to your Zoom site who can answer these questions, so we can talk to that person instead of wasting our time with you.
Or, just for fun: Under what circumstances would you — or more to the point, FBI leadership — say that it’s appropriate for employees to keep secrets from their employer?
I have a friend who says that unsettling parallels are developing between the FBI and Rome’s Praetorian Guard, which started as a personal protective service for the Emperor and ended up as an untouchable group of elites who called the shots behind the scenes. I’m starting to see his point.
As for Ted, I’m wondering if he’s lost sight of the difference between (a) winning a debate, something you can do by scoring rhetorical points (which is all he was doing with his questions), and (b) representing his constituents, which requires actually getting answers to the kinds of questions he was asking. Asking the questions makes him sound smart. But allowing them to go unanswered makes him seem dumb.
Someone close to the Senator needs to remind him of the first rule of holes: When you’re in a hole, stop digging.