Sen. Ted Cruz has been facing widespread criticism for heading to Cancún, Mexico at a time when millions of Texans were without electricity, heat and running water during a cold snap that brought deadly freezing temperatures. When the Texas Republican appeared on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News on Monday night, he painted himself as a victim of political persecution — and that victim mentality, according to liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent, is typical of far-right Republicans and allies of former President Donald Trump.
"Republicans have hit on a new way to spin away their own screw-ups and scandals: by claiming the media focus on their political travails is driven by the press' search for a new Republican victim, now that former President Donald Trump has largely exited public life," Sargent explains in his column this week. "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has just road-tested this new line in response to continuing questions about his trip to Cancún during the Texas power shortage, which left millions freezing without power."
When Cruz's trip to Cancún became a scandal, he insisted that he wasn't turning his back on Texans during a dangerous crisis and claimed that he was only trying to look after his wife and daughters by joining them in Mexico. Cruz claimed that he was being a good family man, but his critics find that explanation to be incredibly lame — including Sargent.
"This may seem silly and desperate, but it's worth pausing over because it illustrates a deeper intellectual habit that post-Trump Republicans are increasingly falling back upon — one that is likely to get more widespread," Sargent writes. "We're talking here about the relentless instinct to portray Trump as a victim, not just as misdirection, but also, as a catchall justification. And this reaches far beyond Cruz's Cancún excursion. It's the through line to something of far greater consequence: the GOP escalation of voter suppression and counter-majoritarian tactics in states across the country."
On Hannity's show, Cruz told the far-right opinion host, "The media is suffering from Trump withdrawal, where they've attacked Trump every day for four years. They don't know what to do. So, they obsess over my taking my girls to the beach."
During that interview, Cruz painted himself as the victim when he was the one who screwed up — and that, Sargent emphasizes, is right out of the Trump playbook.
"This smuggles Trump into the discussion, not just as misdirection, but also, as a way to win the sympathy of an audience that can be counted on to believe Trump was unfairly victimized by the media for four years," Sargent writes.