Ted Cruz epitomizes a certain kind of quiet, lonely sadism that screams, “Don’t let me near your children.” Surprisingly, people keep doing it.

An article in Wednesday’s New York Times recounts an interaction the senator had with a 3-year-old Iowan named Isaac Josselyn. It went something like this:

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“You have lots of toys?” Cruz asked Josselyn, who seemed like he wanted to play quietly.

“What’s your favorite toy?” Cruz insisted, unable to pick up on basic social cues.

“Do you have a dinosaur?” he badgered. “Do you have a fire truck?”

“Do you have a toy monkey?”

Josselyn, like a dog sensing a malevolent spirit, stared Cruz down, unwilling to participate in his corrupt political theater.

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“A toy monkey!” Cruz bellowed at no one in particular. “You know what that means?! You get to be the monkey in the house!”

Josselyn walked away without acknowledging the outburst. Cruz murmured to a nearby adult, “I’m glad you’re here.”

Cruz, a father of two, has a long history of botching interactions with children. Once, he told a 3-year-old her world was on fire. Another time, he remarked that a girl’s hat had a character from Frozen on it and fist-bumped her enthusiastically. She walked away.

The Times piece focuses on those moments, and Cruz’s extreme unlikeability in general, noting that even his supporters can’t come up with specific reasons as to why they like him.

“His memory is fantastic,” one 57-year-old Iowan said.

In order to gain favor with regular folks, Cruz has resorted to repeating a number of human-like gags (like quoting The Princess Bride and The Simpsons) performed rotely and desperately without humor. But Cruz’s quest for connection is as futile as it is hard to watch—he is a sociopath biting his tongue and attempting to smile; he is an evil robot destroying a city to impress a girl.

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“If you want someone to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy,” he said in a debate this October. “But if you want someone to drive you home, I will get the job done and I will get you home.”

So, vote Cruz for president if you want to be driven home by someone white-knuckling the steering wheel and verbally berating you for wearing a slutty outfit, getting drunk, and not arranging for proper transportation beforehand, and then violently ruffling your hair when you finally open the door.


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

Image via Getty.