A few days ago, Texas’ Canadian Senator Rafael “Ted” Cruz, gave a speech in New Hampshire. Now, any Ted Cruz speech is going to be bad, but this one was especially horrible because Cruz decided to channel John F. Kennedy.
Cruz brought up what he claimed were Kennedy policies that would have put the late president more in tune with the modern GOP than with Democrats. That in itself was bad enough. But Cruz not only quoted JFK, he attempted to imitate the sound of Kennedy’s voice. As you are already imagining, it was a miserable failure.
As Lawrence O’Donnell observed on his MSNBC show The Last Word on January 20, “Note to candidates: Don’t ever, ever, ever try to do an accent that isn’t your own accent.” Good advice that Cruz should have taken. It was bad enough that Cruz fouled the memory of the man who is idolized by most Democrats by saying that Kennedy’s policies were closer to what Republicans espouse today than to modern Democratic positions. But why on earth did he feel the need to quote the man while using a hideous, almost mocking imitation of Kennedy’s accent?
Not only did Cruz offer up a terrible imitation of JFK, he didn’t even get one of the quotes correct. He says, “As JFK said, ‘Some men see things as they are, and ask why? I dream things that never were, and ask why not?'” Of course, anyone who knows anything about the Kennedy family knows that those words were uttered not by President Kennedy, but by his brother Bobby.
Kennedy’s grandson, John “Jack” Schlossberg, was not happy with Cruz’s attempt to claim his grandfather’s legacy for Republicans. The 23-year-old, who describes himself as a “student” of his grandfather’s life and politics, wrote at Politico:
Were my grandfather alive today, he’d be excited about how far we have come as a nation since 1963, he would feel a sense of urgency about the challenges that lie ahead and he most certainly would not be a Republican.
Schlossberg continues, offering what he sees as a huge contrast between JFK and Cruz:
Kennedy believed government could help organize the best of America’s energies and skills. He created new federal programs with ambitious goals, such as the Peace Corps. He did not spend his years in the House and Senate devoted to obstructing the opposition. He certainly did not lead an effort, as Cruz did, to shut down the federal government to score political points and deny health insurance to millions.
Jack Schlossberg isn’t the only Kennedy who is upset at Cruz’s characterization. JFK’s nephew, Patrick Kennedy tells O’Donnell,
I think anybody who was there back in those days… remember[s] President Kennedy with such hope, and they felt a sense of belonging and meaning in his leadership. And I think it’s the furthest thing from what Ted Cruz represents.
Poor Ted Cruz. Nobody likes him. Of course, since he does things like this all of the time, is it any wonder?
Here’s Lawrence O’Donnell’s segment on Cruz’s claim to the JFK legacy, via MSNBC: