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Ted Cruz’s explanation for his Cancun trip made things worse

Look, it’s bad enough to leave the country for a resort town when a) you’re a United States senator and b) your state is dealing with widespread power outages and frigid temperatures. It’s worse when you blame your kids for your decision to leave.

Here’s Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) doing exactly that in trying to explain away his brief trip to Cancun amid Texas’ ongoing weather and power emergency:

“With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.”

OK. So what that statement suggests is:

1. That Cruz only went on the trip to “be a good dad.”

2. He was only going down to Cancun for a day and would be flying back to Texas soon.

Let’s take the second point first. Cruz doesn’t say specifically that he had always planned to accompany his family down to Cancun and then immediately turn around and fly back. But it is heavily implied when he says this: “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.”

Except we know that Cruz changed plans after the firestorm over him leaving Texas amid a power disaster began. Why? Because he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity this on Thursday night:

“I had initially planned to stay through the weekend and to work remotely there, but as I — as I was heading down there, you know, I started to have second thoughts almost immediately because the crisis here in Texas, you need to be here on the ground.”

Now to the “good dad” argument. Look, I am somewhat sympathetic here. Cruz’s daughters are close in age to my own kids. And kids like to be with their parents at that age — especially when you go on vacation!

But when you work in certain fields, it’s understood — by your family especially — that there are going to be times when you are simply not going to be part of family activities (including vacations).

For me, that’s during a presidential year. There’s just too much going on at work for me to be able to get away for any extended time during those years. It’s something that my family may not love but they’ve come to terms with.

For Cruz, it’s times like the one playing out in Texas over the last week. As I wrote on Thursday, people expect their politicians to show up and be present in moments of crisis — whether or not that politician can effect direct change in the current moment. It’s a fact of being in public life. And Cruz, who has been in the Senate for nearly a decade, gets that. As does his family.

Being a senator requires sacrifices — lots of them. It’s not an easy job or one with normal hours or other time commitments. But Cruz — and every other person who runs for the office — is well aware of that fact. If Cruz wanted a job where he could pop off to Cancun when there was a power crisis in Texas, he could have joined some fancy law firm (and he would have been welcomed with open arms!).

But he didn’t do that. He wanted to go into public life. And when you make that choice, you sacrifice some things — including leaving the state you represent when it’s in the midst of a massive crisis.

Cruz knows better. And trying to hide behind the “good dad” defense only makes what he did worse.

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