By now, I assume most of you have figured out that I’m not a huge fan of Sen. Ted Cruz. I’m even less of a fan, however, of what passes for journalism in this country these days, by which I mean the shallow, image-driven, trivia-obsessed folderol that seeks to find the “gotchas” in the most ridiculous things.
Did Obama ordering orange juice on the campaign trail mean he’s not a “regular guy” who can relate to the kind of simpletons these overpaid celebrity journalists assume we are? Did Hillary Clinton not tipping in a diner mean she’s insensitive to working people, or did her overtipping mean she’s a “limousine liberal” who’s insensitive to working people? And on and on.
One of the most obnoxious practitioners of this kind of “celebrity” journalism dressed up as political analysis is Mark Halperin, who goes out of his way to prove that being a “senior political analyst for Time magazine, Time.com, and MSNBC” (according to his Wikipedia entry) does not mean you’re not a shallow, clueless hack.
This became painfully clear from viewing Halperin’s latest atrocity, an interview with Sen. Cruz for Bloomberg.com that was so embarrassing (not to mention more than a little racist), it actually made me feel bad for the candidate. Yes, you heard that right. I actually felt bad for the “Green Eggs and Ham” guy. It really was that awful.
The interview started off with Halperin asking Cruz, who’s Cuban-American, if he thought Hispanics would vote for him. This was bad enough. It became truly cringe-worthy when Halperin prefaced his next line of questioning with “people are interested in you and your identity.” Oh, dear, I thought, this will not end well.
Halperin asked if Cruz listed himself as “a Hispanic” when he applied to Princeton and to Harvard Law School. Of course, Cruz responded, that’s part of his heritage. Then the wheels really began to come off. Halperin began grilling Cruz about whether he had an “affinity for or connection to, anything part of your Cuban past.”
He asked such hard-hitting questions as: Does Cruz have a favorite Cuban food? Does he like Cuban music? Could he identify his favorite Cuban singer? And then, as I watched in fascinated horror, Halperin hit rock bottom — and started to dig.
“I want to give you the opportunity to directly welcome your colleague Sen. Sanders to the race,” he said, “and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en español.”
To his credit, Cruz declined to be Halperin’s dancing Cuban pony. “You know,” he said, “I’m going to stick to English, but I appreciate the invitation, Señor.” It may shock you, but I will give the senator mad respect for not saying, as I did while I was watching this train wreck online, “Mr. Halperin, what the [bad word] is wrong with you?”
I mean, really. Can you even imagine asking Hillary Clinton, “So, who’s your favorite white musician? Do you like mac and cheese? Say something white to welcome Sen. Bernie Sanders to the race!” Or, for that matter, asking Sanders, “So, how about that Jewish food? Gefilte fish, am I right? Do you have a favorite klezmer band? While we’re at it, can you say something in Yiddish to Hillary Clinton?”
One thing is for sure: We need to keep Mark Halperin as far away from Dr. Ben Carson as we can.
Look, there’s a lot to criticize when it comes to Ted Cruz. I’ve done it recently, and I’m sure that before this whole long electoral nightmare is over, I’ll do it again. But I really do not give a rat’s wazoo about the music he listens to or whether he eats the food of his forbears. And I don’t think the vast majority of the American people do either, just as they are incredibly uninterested in the dining, tipping or musical inclinations of JEB!, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, et. al.
Ask them how they’re going to deal with the rapidly growing income gap in this country, if they plan to at all. Ask them about how they’re going to fix our crumbling infrastructure. Ask them about their position on warrantless surveillance, assassination by drone, or nuclear proliferation.
In other words, Mr. Halperin and others of your ilk, do your freakin’ jobs for a change.