Ted Cruz (AP/Evan Vucci)

Ted Cruz baffles the world by saying Democrats are Lisa Simpson

Not sure if Cruz intended for the remark to be a compliment, but Lisa is by far the smartest character on the show


Rachel Leah
February 23, 2018 12:01PM (UTC)

When Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took the podium Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Committee, he offered a television metaphor to explain the difference between America's two parties. "The Democrats are the party of Lisa Simpson and Republicans are happily the party of Homer, Bart, Maggie and Marge," he said, making it totally unclear what his point was and also if he is at all familiar with the acclaimed animated series "The Simpsons."

It wasn't necessarily unprecedented as the annual Washington convention or CPAC, where Republican leaders and lawmakers, right-wing organizations and constituents gather to discuss the conservative agenda, often end up spewing unhinged diatribes about current events and the left. NRA's CEO Wayne LaPierre said in a speech earlier Thursday that "European-style socialists seized control of the Democratic Party."

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Cruz's comparison to "The Simpsons" was just another iteration of his penchant for spouting unsubstantiated and confusing one-liners. In 2015, he said Christian terrorist attacks "ended about 900 years ago" — a week after Christian extremist Robert Dear shot up a Colorado Planned Parenthood. Cruz also said Dear could in fact be a "transgendered leftist activist." Cruz, though, left out the fact that the Ku Klux Klan had long terrorized the South under the guise of its white and Christian heritage.

The list goes on. Cruz, as the Houston Chronicle noted, has a habit of quoting pop culture.  Aside from using The Simpsons, Cruz has quoted "The Princess Bride" ("You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means," he once said in Iowa); "Star Wars" (he tried to explain net neutrality using a "Star Wars" analogy to Mark Hamill of all people — and misspelled the famed actor's name in the process); "The Usual Suspects" ("The greatest trick the devil ever played was to convince the world he didn't exist," he told the Heritage Foundation); and, perhaps most famously, the Dr. Seuss book "Green Eggs and Ham" on the Senate floor during a filibuster. So Cruz is more culturally aware than some other politicians in the Senate.

Which makes Cruz's "Simpsons" dig really confusing. By anyone's standards, Lisa, the middle child of the dysfunctional family, is the most intelligent and voice of reason for the household. She's the platonic ideal here. She's rational, she's smart, she thinks for herself — oh, was that the problem?

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Was Cruz's endorsement of Republicans resembling Bart, Homer, Marge and Maggie — all wildly different characters — an acknowledgement of the Party's inner turmoil, frequent amoral stances and individualistic approaches to politics? Was it intentional that he insisted the GOP, like the Simpson family, was led by a bumbling buffoon whose selfish actions has caused problems for everyone around?

Decades years after then-president George H. W. Bush told the world he'd rather have "The Waltons" than "The Simpsons," Cruz said that he was just fine with the latter — showing that a dysfunctional family was absolutely a fine representation of America? That this obvious satire of some of the worst parts of America should be taken at face value? We're not quite sure, and no one on Twitter seemed to be sure, either.

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Rachel Leah

Rachel Leah is a culture writer for Salon. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachelkleah.

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Cpac Cpac 2018 Democrats Lisa Simpson Republicans Ted Cruz Television The Simpsons

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