By Alan Resnick
I’m reaching out for at least nine adult volunteers to help me sit shiva, the Jewish weeklong formal mourning period, for the death of the souls of Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley.They are the two Republican senators most closely associated with baselessly challenging the Electoral College votes won by President-elect Joe Biden in several key states. As this will be a nonsectarian service, this invitation is extended to both males and females of any religion.
Cruz and Hawley are two of our country’s highest ranking elected officials, so the loss of their souls is significant, especially given their Ivy League law degrees and clerkships with Supreme Court chief justices. And even before the events of January 6, neither appeared to be well liked by their peers, so finding 10 members of Congress to participate in anything that concerns the duo is doubtful. As Al Franken, former U.S. Senator from Minnesota wrote in his 2017 book, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate: “I like Ted Cruz more than most of my colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz.” The burden therefore falls on us.
While the souls of both Cruz and Hawley were pronounced dead on January 7, the day after the insurrection at the Capitol Building, the circumstances surrounding their demises were quite different. The death of Cruz’ soul was a lengthy and tortured process, as symptoms first began to present themselves to the nation back on February 1, 2016, when he was declared the winner of the Iowa Republican caucus. In a precursor of things to come, two days after the caucus, fellow candidate Donald Trump tweeted: “Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified.” Trump accused Cruz and his aides and allies of telling Iowa voters that Ben Carson was quitting the race so he could steal Carson’s votes.
Full of righteous indignation, Mr. Cruz fired back at Trump the same day at a press conference: “What Donald does, when he loses, is he blames everybody else,” Mr. Cruz added. “It’s never Donald’s fault.” Yet on February 5, The New York Times reported the Cruz campaign acknowledged that it had made a coordinated effort to spread the story that Carson was dropping out. Of course, the Cruz crew brushed away their actions as “an honest mistake.”
A 2016 Trump tweet compared Heidi Cruz’s looks with Melania Trump’s
Cruz’ moral and ethical antigens battled over the next four months against the putrefaction that had started to consume his soul. They fought off an unflattering side-by-side picture and accompanying caption of Cruz’ wife, Heidi, and Melania that Trump retweeted on March 23, 2016, responding to an ad that included a photo of Melania posing nude, commissioned by a super PAC unaffiliated with the Cruz campaign.
Cruz fended off another significant blow to his immune system May 3, the day prior to the Indiana primary. During an interview on Fox News, Trump insinuated that Cruz’ father, Rafael, may have played some role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy: “I mean what was he doing–what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death, shortly before the shooting? It’s horrible.” This intimation was based on an article that had appeared in the National Enquirer, claiming to have definitive photographic evidence that Cruz’ father was with Oswald in 1963 distributing leaflets in Louisiana supporting Fidel Castro..
The attacks on his family, Trump’s questioning whether he could even run for President due to being born in Canada, and candidate Trump’s continual references to him as “Lyin Ted” throughout the primaries all seemed to put Cruz’s soul on the road to recovery. He used Trump’s name just once during his speech at the Republican Convention, only when congratulating him at the outset on winning the nomination. Some delegates began to boo as it became clear that no endorsement was forthcoming. But Cruz was not intimidated, even when Trump suddenly appeared in the arena flashing a thumbs-up gesture to the crowd as Cruz was wrapping up. Cruz concluded by saying: “Don’t stay home in November. Stand and speak and vote your conscience.” CNN reported that Mrs. Cruz needed to be escorted from the arena by security after she was heckled by some angry convention attendees.
The next day, Cruz defended his convention speech in the face of questioning from the Texas delegation attending the convention: “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.” It appeared that Cruz’ ethical and moral slump had stopped.
But on September 23, the decay reappeared with vengeance. In a Facebook post, three days before the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Trump, Cruz announced that he was endorsing the man who trashed his wife and father and called him a liar: “After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.”
Since Trump’s inauguration, the rot has only advanced. Cruz has been one of the President’s most vocal supporters. The toll Cruz’s scheming had taken on his soul was on full display on January 6, when he spoke at the Capitol against certification of the Electoral College results from Arizona. The Texas senator spoke about the need to give Americans confidence in the election and the need for transparency, never mentioning that he was one of the primary promoters of the voter fraud hoax. He opined about the unfairness of disenfranchising 75 million voters, conveniently omitting that he was scheming to disenfranchise the 80 million citizens who had voted for the President-elect Biden.
And this all happened before the riot at the Capitol. After the insurrection had been quelled and Congress had gone back to conducting the people’s business, some Republican senators were so shaken and outraged by the day’s events that they demonstrated the decency to change their minds about voting against decertification. But not Ted Cruz. He was still all in.
Ted Cruz’ soul was officially pronounced dead on January 7, 2021, the day after the Capitol Building insurrection. He denied any responsibility for the mutiny on the previous day, instead directing the blame toward Trump and the rioters during an interview at an NBC affiliate in Dallas: “Look, I think he plainly bears some responsibility. At the end of the day, criminals are responsible for their own conduct and the terrorists who conducted that attack, they bear the responsibility. But I think his angry rhetoric was reckless, and I think it was harmful.”
Josh Hawley’s soul expired much more quickly, hurried along by a terminal case of overweening ambition. At 41, Hawley, elected in 2018, is the youngest sitting senator and thought by some to be a possible 2024 Republican presidential candidate. Unlike Cruz, who had been on the public’s radar screen for quite some time, it’s doubtful that many people outside of his home state of Missouri knew of him or his lapses in principles until they appeared in full view on December 31, 2020. That’s when The Washington Post reported that Hawley was the first senator to announce that he would object when Congress convened the following week to certify the Electoral College vote, proclaiming: “At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress so far has failed to act.”
Hawley took this stance even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had discouraged his members from challenging the process, knowing that it was doomed to fail and would only force each Republican senator to publicly support or denounce the psychopath in the Oval Office.. Hawley took this stance even though Republican Chris Krebs, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, announced on November 12 that the election was the most secure in history. (Not surprisingly, Trump fired Krebs via tweet a week later.)
On the morning of the Capitol Building riots, Hawley offered a clenched-fist salute of support to the insurrectionists as he walked by them on the way to the certification vote. His gesture was memorialized in a photograph that quickly went viral. Like Cruz, Hawley was one of the few senators who objected to both the Arizona and Pennsylvania certifications. And also like Cruz, Hawley accepted no responsibility for the insurgency, even though former Missouri Senator John Danforth, Hawley’s most influential mentor, told the Kansas City Star that Hawley was responsible for the insurrection and supporting him was “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life.” Hawley rebutted Danforth in a statement: “I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections. That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”
Now that their souls have died, discussions have turned toward what to do with their morally and ethically depleted bodies. The editorial boards of major newspapers in both men’s home states have demanded their resignations. By January 11, four Senate Democrats, Chris Coons of Delaware, Patty Murray of Washington State, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio had called for Cruz and Hawley to resign or be expelled. Ben Sasse, the Republican Senator from Nebraska, has not called for their resignations but told NPR, “Senator Hawley was doing something that was really dumbass.”
It is customary during the shiva period to bring food into the house of the deceased. But given the events of January 6, it is unlikely that a casserole or a dish to pass would be accepted at the People’s House. My people tend to be prefer sending something catered to something homemade, but, again, the likelihood of a mixed nut tray or edible arrangement fruit basket getting through security is remote right now.
So here’s one more idea if you would like to perform a mitzvah, or good deed, to commemorate the loss of the souls of Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. Make a donation to the charity of your choosing. And indicate on the donation form that you are making the contribution in memory of the soul of Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley. Request that the charity send an acknowledgement to the office of either gentleman at the Capitol Building. Chances are good that at least one lower-tier staff member will read it. And maybe they’ll even pass it along to Cruz or Hawley. Better yet if you have the resources, make two donations, one for each of these profiles in cynicism.
Alan Resnick is an industrial psychologist with over 40 years of professional experience. He and his wife are sheltering at home in Farmington Hills, Michigan. He is passing the time by cooking, exercising, catching up on friends’ recommendations of must-see TV and writing.