Ted Cruz is going to war over a Washington Post cartoon. The Texas senator and presidential candidate on Tuesday blasted the newspaper for a cartoon that depicted Cruz's two young daughters as monkeys, an image that sought to criticize the Republican's use of his children as "political props" in his campaign. But while the cartoon is provocative in how it depicted his children, its message is one that Cruz seems to have no problem continuing.
It all started with a parody political ad that aired in Iowa during Saturday Night Live. In the ad, Cruz reads fake Christmas-themed stories, like How Obamacare Stole Christmas and The Grinch Who Lost Her Emails, to his wife, Heidi, and his two daughters, Caroline and Catherine. Washington Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes pointed to the ad as proof that since the Texas senator was open to using his children in political ads — at one point, the elder Caroline reads the made-up tale out loud mocking Hillary Clinton's private email server — the two were then fair game for satire.
The cartoon in questions shows Cruz as an organ grinder wearing a red Santa outfit. As Cruz plays the organ, two little monkeys, who are also Christmas-fied and presumably his daughters, dance. After the cartoon went live on Tuesday, Cruz attacked the Washington Post, tweeting, "Classy. @washingtonpost makes fun of my girls. Stick w/ attacking me--Caroline & Catherine are out of your league." Cruz even got kind words from competitor Marco Rubio, who offered his support via Twitter.
Eventually, the cartoon was taken down and replaced with an editor's note from editorial page editor 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.
When you launch a presidential campaign, everything in your life is fair game, and while the ethics of including young children in that scrutiny is questionable, the reality is that the rule cuts both ways. Hours after the cartoon went live, the Cruz campaign sent out a fundraising email that contained the image in full.
If the cartoon was so offensive, why then turn around and not only use it as a tool to gain support from voters, but also republish and mass distribute it? The life of a politician is difficult, and lines will be crossed, but just make sure you're not crossing the very lines you blast.