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Comely' Cruz, McCarthy and the media

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to members of the media after a vote on the Senate floor September 27, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate has passed a continuing resolution 54-44 to fund the government through November 15 with the exclusion of defunding the Obama care in which the provision was passed in the House. Credit: Getty Images

Washington Post oddity columnist Richard Cohen's work is often riddled with peculiarities (like the time he said singer Miley Cyrus encourages bad behavior, such as rape, in young men) but here he might be onto something.

In his latest piece, Cohen analyzes the media mastery of Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who in his short Senate career has been compared unfavorably to the late and zealous communist hunter Joe McCarthy:

McCarthy was a demagogue who couldn’t make the transition from newspapers to television. In print, he was formidable, hurling accusations as Zeus did lightning bolts. But on the telly, he cut a ridiculous figure, morose and tending to emit a weird giggle. Although he had overreached and earned the considerable hatred of his colleagues, it was his disheveled and foolish appearance that actually did him in. With television, appearance matters as much as content.

Cruz has both a comely appearance and a mastery of his message. A viewing of ["Meet the Press" Sunday], as well as a close reading of the transcript, reveals a man who speaks in whole sentences, actual paragraphs and who feels no obligation, moral or otherwise, to actually answer a question. The English language exited his mouth ready for publication. Cruz does not clear his throat. He does not repeat the question while he riffles through memorized talking points. At every turn, he made Harry Reid the heavy — if only the Democratic Senate leader could be reasonable! — while he, Cruz, and his allies were the very soul of moderation. “It’s Harry Reid who wants to use brute political force,” he said, more or less matter-of-factly. ...

[I]t’s hard to think of another politician who has so mastered the art of attracting media attention as has Cruz.


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