Intervention Time

10.11.13

Ted Cruz is the Miley Cyrus of the Senate

Ever since his days wowing the ladies as a star Princeton debater, the grandstanding Texas senator has had an unhealthy appetite for attention. Dean Obeidallah says it’s time for an intervention.

Ted Cruz desperately needs help. He has an addiction. And alarmingly it’s to the one of the most powerful and destructive drugs out there: fame.

Cruz’s addiction has lead him to do the unthinkable. No, not shutting down the government, but the more amazing feat of becoming the Miley Cyrus of politics. In fact, he’s been making Miley look like a camera-shy recluse.

What’s next for Cruz to get our attention? Cruz giving a speech in Senate chamber while licking a gavel à la Miley? Tweeting out a nude selfie? Or worse: twerking.

Some of Cruz’s fellow Republicans have been warning us for weeks about his erratic behavior, but we have ignored them. Sen. Bob Corker called him “confused.” Karl Rove noted that, “His fellow senators don’t know where he is coming from.” And Republican congressman Peter King—a man known for his warmth and compassion—made it clear that what Cruz is doing is “a form of governmental terrorism.”

How did we miss the signs of Cruz’s fame addiction? He didn’t even try to hide it. Just this past February, in only his second month as a U.S. senator, Cruz made it clear that he required insatiable amounts of attention. Then, he used video clips and innuendo to attack Chuck Hagel’s reputation during Hagel’s confirmation hearings for secretary of defense.

Senator John McCain, a great judge of character (as demonstrated by his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008) tried to warn us then about Cruz. But we didn’t listen. We wrote it off as a guy just having a little fun.

I keep thinking to myself: We should have seen this coming. After all, this not the first time Cruz has dabbled with fame. Cruz, like Miley Cyrus, was a “child star.” Cyrus as “Hannah Montana,” and Cruz as the national debate champion at Princeton University. In the Ivy League world, this achievement made Cruz a star. In fact, Cruz’s college friends recalled him “as ‘sort of a stud’ with girls on the debate circuit.” And as many are aware, once you get a taste of fame, it sucks you in. All you think about is scoring some more. All your actions are calculated to that end.

The worst part is that Cruz almost beat his fame addiction. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he went out into the real word where titles like “debate champ” don’t turn many heads. So instead of being the golden boy of the media, Cruz kicked around for a bit working on George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and as the Texas solicitor general.

Maybe in time Cruz can seek help from Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew. This might help him and also give him a little media attention—since quitting fame cold turkey could be fatal.

Boring? Probably. But the upside was that Cruz’s fame habit appeared to be under control. Sure, he would get a little taste here and there, like when he successfully argued before the Supreme Court that a 10 Commandments monument should remain on state property. But by all accounts, he had his stuff together. And then came the turning point: Cruz was elected to the senate in 2012. The people of Texas had unwittingly become his enablers. Now, his fame addiction—like Miley Cyrus’s—has consumed him.

Cruz’s obsession with fame is so overwhelming that he recently spoke for 21 straight hours in the Senate. How much more of a cry for help do you need than a guy staying up all night in hopes of getting more face time on the basic cable channels? And Cruz’s speech during his all-night media binge was often incoherent: one moment he was talking about Nazi Germany and the next he was reading Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.

How far are we from cruz starring in an infomercial about himself? Alarmingly, there are still some on the right who don’t believe Cruz has a problem. These are codependent people who defend Cruz because they think they are helping him.

Here’s my message to those people: You are not helping Ted Cruz. In fact, you are actually making his problem worse. The sooner we all recognize he has an addiction, the sooner he can get the help he needs.

We have all seen where the unending pursuit of fame can lead. I’m talking the Flava Flavs, Snookis and Newt Gingriches of the world. Sure, you might get a reality show or a cable talk show where you can yell at people, but your addiction will eat you alive from the inside.

So what can we do to help Ted? We need to put aside our partisan criticism and start helping him with some tough love. We need to ignore Ted for his own good. When you see him on the TV, change the channel. If his name is an article, don’t read it (this one excluded, of course). In time, maybe Cruz can seek help from Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew. (This might both help him begin to recover and also give him a little media attention, since quitting fame cold turkey could be fatal.)

Cruz, like Miley Cyrus, will always be with us. But let’s hope they can get control of their fame addictions before it gets so bad that one day we turn on the TV and see both Cruz and Cyrus scantily clad, twerking against Harry Reid. That’s an image that will will scar you for life.