The PJ Tatler

Will the Tea Party Abandon Ted Cruz Now That His Teen Pot Experimentation Has Been Exposed?

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I suppose it’s better that this GOP laundry is being aired now, a year out from the first Republican presidential primary. Better now than an October Surprise by a malicious Democrat hack two weeks out from the presidential election.

The Daily Mail’s David Martosko asked 10 potential GOP candidates about their past use of marijuana:

Rick Perry, Donald Trump and John Bolton say they have never smoked pot; Rand Paul hints that he ‘wasn’t a choirboy’ – but won’t answer directly. Marco Rubio refuses to answer, saying no one will believe him if the answer is ‘no’; Carly Fiorina will only say she opposes legalizing weed. Spokesmen for Govs. Scott Walker and Gov. Chris Christie, and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, ignored questions entirely.

The biggest headline was reserved for Sen. Ted Cruz:

EXCLUSIVE: Top Republican contender Ted Cruz ‘foolishly experimented with marijuana,’ his campaign admits after Bush confesses to high-school pot use.

“Teenagers are often known for their lack of judgment, and Sen. Cruz was no exception,” a Cruz spokesperson told the Daily Mail. “When he was a teenager, he foolishly experimented with marijuana. It was a mistake, and he’s never tried it since.”

Cruz’s admission comes less than a week after Jeb Bush admitted to the Boston Globe that he smoked weed at the elite prep school he attended as a teenager.

Again, it’s good that these revelations are surfacing now. No candidate wants to worry that his high school football buddies (or debate teammates) are going to get a call from a reporter asking about that epic party in 1988.

Also included in the Daily Mail article is this comment from an anonymous congressional staffer:

But Cruz’s conservative political base may not look kindly on the news. An aide to a Democratic senator told Daily Mail Online: “Just wait until the tea party gets its hooks in this. I mean, we all have skeletons and even moral crusaders eventually topple of their own weight, right?”

You can practically hear the breathless staffer gleefully panting this into his cell phone from a dark corner of his office as he rubs his hands together, fantasizing about the (literal) lynching that will be visited upon Ted Cruz on the steps of the Capitol, courtesy of the tea party.

The anonymous aide is correct on one point. We all have skeletons. 

Most people — tea party supporters included — understand that teenagers sometimes make poor decisions. But teenagers change. Most grow up and learn from their mistakes. People are usually willing to forgive youthful indiscretions when an individual shows over time that he has changed his ways and is sincere about repudiating the past behavior.

People tend to be less forgiving of individuals like President Obama, who wrote nostalgically — almost fondly — of his high school pot and cocaine use in Dreams from My Father. Obama wrote that being high “could at least help you to laugh at the world’s ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullsh** and cheap moralism.” He also boasted several times on the campaign trail, “I inhaled…frequently! That was the point!” Sides-splitting stuff there. 

Parents tend to get a little irritated when their elected officials make comments that put drug use in a positive light. And voters — at least those on the right — don’t particularly like politicians who say, “Don’t do drugs” with wink and a smile.

Considering that the revelations about Cruz are for something that happened some 30 years in the past and given his words of contrition about behavior he calls “foolish” and a “mistake,” this skeleton is not going to “topple” Cruz. He will not be thrown under the tea party bus and no one will care about this in a month (except for that anonymous Dem staffer who will still be trying to figure out how on earth this did not turn into the biggest scandal since Watergate).

One Ohio tea party leader put it in perspective, saying that Cruz should be judged on his current record rather than on decisions he made in his teen years.

“While I don’t condone the use of pot, I’m not going to judge his qualifications based on a poor choice he made in his teen years,” said Amy Brighton, co-coordinator of Medina Tea Party Patriots. “A constitutional scholar and an ardent supporter of conservatism – obviously, he has matured since then. Like all the presidential hopefuls, I’m going to judge him based on whether he has fought – both in words and actions – to restore personal and economic freedom.”