Ted Cruz lashed out at the Washington Post on Tuesday over a political cartoon created in direct response to his own Christmas-themed political ad. Although the cartoon has since been retracted, the incident raises the issue of whether or not politicians’ children should be considered “fair game” — particularly when the parent isn’t shy about using them for campaigning purposes.
Classy. @washingtonpost makes fun of my girls. Stick w/ attacking me–Caroline & Catherine are out of your league. https://t.co/N61ys6z8w1
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 22, 2015
The controversy ultimately started with a Ted Cruz campaign ad that aired during Saturday Night Live over the weekend.
The holiday-themed (and politically-charged) commercial featured the Cruz family reading from books such as “The Grinch Who Lost Her Emails,” “How ObamaCare Stole Christmas,” and “Auditing St. Nick.” It was a move that some have made fun of due to the ad’s awkward nature. However, Washington Post editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes took her criticism a step further.
In a cartoon drawing, she depicted Ted Cruz in a Santa costume with a wind-up music box. Meanwhile, his daughters, seven-year-old Caroline and four-year-old Catherine, are depicted as monkeys in elf suits.
— Fox News Video (@foxnewsvideo) December 23, 2015
The point of the cartoon wasn’t to make fun of the children so much as it was a blunt criticism of Cruz. The political drawing demonstrated the sentiment that the two girls were being exploited without understanding exactly what they were being asked to do.
However, the fact that this point was made using two young children has understandably drawn quite a bit of criticism. Even so, Ann stood by her decision to create the cartoon featuring Ted Cruz and his little girls.
“Ted Cruz has put his children in a political ad… Don’t start screaming when editorial cartoonists draw them as well.”
NBC News reports the original cartoon was actually accompanied by a tweet, where Telnaes wrote “Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props.” The tweet has since been deleted.
Also gone from WashPo is the editorial cartoon, which itself was replaced by an editor’s note from Fred Hiatt.
“It’s generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it. I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree.”
In the aftermath of the Cruz cartoon controversy, new criticism has arisen — only this time, it’s aimed at Ted himself.
The Hill reports that in direct response to the political ad, Ted Cruz launched a fundraising campaign.
Ted Cruz is so “sickened” by cartoon of his kids…he’s raising money off it. pic.twitter.com/j6BWcjNWKD
— Eli Stokols (@EliStokols) December 23, 2015
This behavior is a bit disturbing to some for a couple of reasons. First, the act seems to validate the criticism raised against Cruz in the first place. This is someone who was previously accused of exploiting his children for political gain. Could it now be argued that Cruz is exploiting the hurtful depiction of two little girls for additional gain? Perhaps Cruz isn’t bothered by the use of his children politically as long as he’s doing it. Some may feel that this behavior is just as bad, even if it’s not an outright negative depiction of the children.
Second, the fundraising move does nothing at all to demonstrate how inappropriate it is to bring young children into the ongoing political conversation. Shouldn’t the correct response be to not use children as a political tool in any way, shape, or form?
Despite the criticism and concern, Ted Cruz has also received a great deal of support among his Republican competitors. Political adversaries like Marco Rubio took to Twitter to call out the Washington Post over the cartoon.
Wash Post cartoon featuring @tedcruz‘s children is disgusting. The Post saying the kids are “fair game” is even worse.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 23, 2015
Ted Cruz immediately thanked Rubio for his support on the issue.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 23, 2015
Even Donald Trump spoke up about the cartoon.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2015
Needless to say, the WashPo picture and Ted Cruz’s behaviors before and after its creation continue to court controversy.
Is it okay for politicians to use their children as part of their political campaign? Does this action make them “fair game” for those with criticisms of their parents? Please share your thoughts on this topic below!
[Photo by AP Photo/Jim Cole]