Dance, Monkey! A Racist Interview with Ted Cruz

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Journalist Mark Halperin was forced to apologize on Monday after his interview with presidential candidate Ted Cruz drew the wrong kind of publicity. Halperin, the managing editor of Bloomberg Politics, admitted that some of the questions he posed to the Texas senator were “inappropriate.”

“I rushed through the questions, and that was a mistake — it led to poor tone and timing,” Halperin said in a formal apology. “I also understand why some felt the questions were inappropriate. I apologize to those that were offended, and to Senator Cruz. I promise that I will work to make the tone and questions better next time.”

Next time? If a conservative had conducted this kind of interview with a Democrat, he would be run out of journalism. Possibly out of the country. He would join Paula Dean and Donald Sterling on the Shame Wagon, ostracized from society for his racist views. But since the object of the interview was the evil Ted Cruz, Halperin gets a pass.

The Authenticity Test

Halperin’s interview seemed to be built on a single-minded goal: prove that Ted Cruz is not authentically Hispanic. Never mind the fact that Cruz is not running on a platform of identity politics. Never mind the fact that he seldom even addresses his Hispanic background. None of that matters. As long as he dares to walk around with that last name, he deserves to be taken down a peg for not properly wrapping himself in his Cuban heritage.

“Your last name is Cruz, and you’re from Texas,” Halperin said. “Just based on that, should you have appeal to Hispanic voters?”

It should be noted that Cruz handled these questions with deft diplomacy. Plenty of politicians would have simply walked out when confronted with this kind of hostile racism. Cruz answered the questions as well as he could without falling into any of Halperin’s obvious traps.

That couldn’t have been easy, considering some of Halperin’s followups. Those included questions about Cruz’s favorite Cuban dish, whether or not he listed himself as Hispanic when applying to college, and a request that he welcome Bernie Sanders to the race in Spanish.

To be fair, liberal writers at the Washington Post, ThinkProgress, and other outlets have taken Halperin to task for his “inappropriate” interview. But if you’re a gambler, don’t bet on the end of Halperin’s career in political punditry. He will still be a mainstay on the Sunday shows, he will still be quoted in mainstream publications, and he will still get prominent politicians on his Bloomberg TV show. Racism is only a fatal flaw if you are a conservative.

As for Cruz’s Hispanic heritage: what difference does it make? Why do liberals insist on making a person’s racial identity their entire identity? It’s not enough for Ted Cruz to be Hispanic, he has to prove that he is Hispanic enough? What kind of nonsense is this, and what does it have to do with his ideas?

If Ted Cruz is elected president, the fact that he is the first Cuban-American to hold that office will be among the least important aspects of the win. But to people like Halperin, it’s the only thing that matters.