Why Cruz’s ‘mistake’ concession won’t end his Cancun controversy

Yesterday morning, it seemed like a story that was difficult to believe. Sure, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) struggles to earn the respect and admiration of those who know him. And sure, no one would think to nominate the Texas Republican for any Great Political Leader awards.

But would Cruz really leave his home state in the midst of a crisis? Would he really take off for a warm seaside resort while his freezing constituents struggled without reliable access to power, water, heat, and food? Were those online photographs of him on the plane to Cancun really him?

By midday, the public learned that the answer to each of these questions was yes. Late yesterday afternoon, the GOP senator seemed to realize his travel plans were unwise.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told reporters Thursday his decision to go on a family vacation to Cancún, Mexico, as Texans suffer without heat, water and power because of a historic winter storm was “a mistake” that he now regrets. “It was obviously a mistake, and in hindsight I wouldn’t have done it,” Cruz said outside his home after having returned to Houston, where he was greeted by protesters chanting, “Resign.”

The Texas Republican went on to say that he can “understand why people are upset,” but he insists he was simply trying to make his daughters happy by taking them to the Ritz Carlton in Cancun for a family vacation. Cruz conceded that he intended to stay in Mexico until the weekend — he was not simply dropping off his kids — but changed his mind because, as he told reporters yesterday, “leaving when so many Texans were hurting didn’t feel right.”

The senator’s damage-control efforts soon after took him to Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, where the host did his best to defend Cruz.

As political crisis management goes, the Texan followed the traditional playbook — undo the mistake, acknowledge the mistake, and try to do it all in one day to prevent the mess from dragging out — and Cruz no doubt hopes the worst of the mess is behind him.

The questions about the senator’s judgment will not fade so easily. Cruz has, after all, repeatedly criticized elected officials who took breaks during crises. Common sense suggests he should’ve known his Mexican sojourn was a bad idea — not just as a matter of “optics” and politics, but also because he presumably had real work to do trying to assist his constituents facing tragic conditions.

But he left anyway.

The editorial board of the Houston Chronicle last month called for Cruz to resign for his efforts to undermine the nation’s electoral system. Today, the Chronicle‘s editors again called for his resignation, this time for a whole new reason.

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