Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was trending across social media on Thursday after he flew to Cancun, Mexico while much of his home state suffered under record cold conditions that have left much of the state without power.
“With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” he said in the statement. “My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”
However, it didn’t take long for the media to call out the Texas senator and his weak response as to why he opted to fly south of the border during such a crisis. Merciless memes soon trended across social media as did hashtags such as #TedFled.
The official account for The Recount (@therecount), shared Cruz’s response, “Sen. Ted Cruz at the Cancún airport: ‘Yesterday my daughters asked if they could take a trip with some friends, and Heidi and I agreed, so I flew down with them last night, dropped them off here and now I’m headed back to Texas.'”
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MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) posted, “Texas state Rep. Chris Turner to CNN on Ted Cruz: ‘As far as I’m concerned, it would be fine if he remained in Cancun. He doesn’t do anything for us in Texas or in Washington, so I don’t know that we’re gonna notice when he comes back.'”
CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) posted, “It’s Blame Your Daughter At Work Day.”
There was of course no shortage of humor across social media, which has already allowed the average user with some Photoshop skills and/or some quick wit to become a political satirist.
Texas resident Warren Holleman (@WarrenHolleman) posted a photo of Cruz apparently wearing a Lonestar State themed mask and offered, “Question: What did it take to finally get Ted Cruz to wear a mask during a pandemic that killed a half million Americans? Answer: A Texas power outage that he wanted to secretly escape from.”
Lawyer Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) proved he could have a career in stand up if the lawyer thing doesn’t work out, “You’re telling me an adult male in his 50s with the legal name Rafael Cruz is going to do a there and back trip from Texas to Cancun in less than one day with a stuffed carryon bag…. and suddenly CBP and DEA are not going to interrogate him for 6 hours?”
Greg Price (@greg_price11) saw a comparison to The Simpsons‘ corrupt Mayor Quimby in which the mayor vowed not to leave Springfield during a crisis:
Rogelio Garcia Lawyer (@LawyerRogelio) shared a ‘Photoshopped’ still from the film Titanic, with a fitting punchline:
There were plenty of images of Cruz from the airport posted in “current events” such as the storming of the capitol, as well as historic images such as the destruction of the Hindenburg while in another tweet Cruz’s face replaced Jason Alexander from a classic episode of Seinfeld.
However, the best of them all may have been on an image that included former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie with Cruz added along with Sen. Bernie Sanders from the Biden inauguration – a trifecta of references.
While there is a lot of hate on social media right now, this good humored calling out of an elected official seemed to be almost unifying in some ways.
“In one sense, the turmoil around Cruz’s ill-timed vacation says a lot about his own tone-deafness in media matters,” explained technology analyst Charles King of Pund-IT.
“It may be that Cruz simply, and mistakenly, believed that the Teflon coating former President Trump seems to enjoy extends to himself,” added King.
Heading to Cancun during a crisis was certainly a bad decision and it was easy for users on social media to call it out.
“Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a powerful motivator for people to lose their cool and let their opinions rip online,” said Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Research. “When times are tough and people are at wits end with pandemic tension, seeing that public officials are skipping out on their responsibilities is too much to overlook.
“Everybody’s a critic these days, everybody is watching. Welcome to social media surveillance society,” added Crandall.
“A larger issue is to underscore how social media can act like a very large bullhorn that can disseminate ideas and images to unfathomably large audiences,” said King. “However, that’s a double-edged sword that can cut especially deep when personal errors or failings come into view. There’s an old joke that on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Conversely, on social media, everybody knows when you’ve made a dumb mistake.”