Ted Cruz committed a mortal sin in the modern Republican Party earlier this week when he implied the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was something other than the thing Democrats have been using to make former President Trump look bad.
“We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week,” the Texas senator said during a Senate hearing on Wednesday. “It is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage, incredible bravery, risk their lives to defend the men and women who serve in this Capitol.”
Cruz was lambasted by Tucker Carlson that night, prompting him to hop on Carlson’s show Thursday and beg for forgiveness. “The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb,” Cruz said before Carlson cut him off and said he didn’t believe him. Cruz took it up a notch, stammering through an absurd bit about how he wasn’t talking about the “patriots across the country supporting President Trump,” only those who assaulted police officers, and that he’s always described anyone who assaults a cop as a terrorist.
“Tucker, I agree with you,” he said. “It was a mistake to say that yesterday.”
Ted Cruz wants to remind everyone that yes, he tried to overthrow the 2020 election pic.twitter.com/7vVqsjQcmC
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 7, 2022
Cruz didn’t stop there. He grew even more animated as he recounted how he voted against certifying the 2020 election results while “thousands of people were standing up to defend this country on Jan. 6,” people Cruz called terrorists yesterday but then changed his mind because a TV host got mad at him.
Carlson kept pressing Cruz about his explanation. Cruz grew even more animated. “I agree, it was a mistake to use the word yesterday because the Democrats the corporate media have so politicized it,” he said. “They’re trying to paint everyone as a terrorist and it’s a lie, and by the way, I’ve spoken out vocally against— They want to paint us as Nazis. Look, I’m the one leading the fight in the Senate against this garbage!”
Carlson wasn’t moved and unceremoniously dismissed Cruz from his show.
Cruz gave far-right commentators like Carlson a sound bite to tee off on by calling the attack terrorism, but the heart of Cruz’s faux pas here is the implication that last year’s violent attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election is something to be condemned. The Republican Party has almost entirely brushed off the attack as not that big of a deal, and if it is a big deal then it’s the fault of the Democrats.
Some of them have all but condoned it. Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who also bashed Cruz for calling the attack terrorism, told Steve Bannon on Thursday they are “ashamed of nothing” that happened last Jan. 6. A few hours later they hosted a press conference to deliver the party’s “response” to the slate of events Democrats scheduled to commemorate the anniversary. Gaetz and Greene defended the rioters and spread conspiracy theories about the FBI’s involvement.
Carlson is right there with them in downplaying what happened. “If you take three steps back as historical events go if we are being honest now, Jan. 6 barely rates as a footnote,” he said at the top of his show on Thursday. “Really not a lot happened that day if you think about it.”