Ted Cruz

Vid: The Joe Biden Joke That Got Ted Cruz in Trouble

This is the latest example of how social media empowers the audience, not the "star."


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is running for president—and from his reputation for telling bad, poorly timed jokes.

Watch above as just yesterday he makes fun of Vice President Joe Biden (who is flirting with a White House bid of his own). The joke is considered tasteless because Biden's 48-year-old son Beau just died of brain cancer and will be buried on Saturday, June 6.

At the end of the clip, Cruz refuses to engage a question about the propriety of the gag.

Cruz quickly apologized yesterday on his Facebook page, writing

Ted Cruz Facebook

While the joke's timing was certainly in indefensibly bad taste, this is hardly the sort of thing over which presidential runs fall apart over (on that score, Cruz has many bigger issues to deal with).

To my mind, the most interesting thing about this incident actually has nothing to do with Ted Cruz per se. Rather, it's just the latest example of where new forms of media that allow influential and powerful figures to reach larger audiences actually empower the audience far more than the folks on the public stage.

Recall, for instance, not just the Sony hack but especially Bill Cosby's ill-fated attempt to generate memes via Twitter. That turned into a clusterfuck of enormous proportions since rape allegations against the comedian had just gone public in a huge way. 

If you read the comments on Cruz's Facebook page, you'll see the senator immediately took a huge amount of abuse, right there in the very forum he controls and administers. Among the replies:

Sadly your character has shined through and there is no taking that back…

"Ted Cruz." You know the nice thing? He'll never be President or even Vice-President. Unlike Joe Biden….

You're a lowlife. How dare you make fun of that man when he's at a low point in his life? I pray that you'll never have to bury a child. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy….

You are garbage and not fit to mention Joe Biden's name ever…

Too little, too late. You are beyond vile….

Scumbag. Go back to Canada, you classless POS.

Of course, people have always castigated politicians and powerful people in similar terms. But they did it in private, or among small groups, or in publications with varying degrees of influence on the culture. It's really kind of bracing to realize that the above comments are not just out there for billions of Facebook members to read but are actually on Ted Cruz's official Facebook page.

This is emblematic of the brutal new reality that politicians, entertainers, corporations, and others face. New forms of media demand a radically different relationship with the voting public, the buying public, fans, critics, you name it. From Wikileaks to Twitter (where anyone can basically call out anyone else publicly) to Facebook to YouTube to Periscope and beyond, the hierarchy between the performer and the public has been levelled in serious ways. It's not completely level, of course, nor will it be. But the politicians and the corporations and the stars who don't recognize that the terms of exchange have changed will be stepping in it every bit as much as Bill Cosby.

NEXT: Sheldon Richman: Section 215 Is Dead, But the National Security State Lives

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  1. FAKE SCANDAL!!!!111

    Just kidding. Yeah, there’s plenty of time to make fun of Biden before Hillary wins in 2016, might as well give it a temporary rest while he’s burying his son.

  2. I was hoping Cruz had somehow worked 47% into the joke.

  3. The joke was very tame. The timing was terrible.

    1. So he needs to work on the delivery?

      1. I heard that he’s getting advice on optics from the WH media staff.

  4. This is what we call an unforced error. But at least he didn’t tell Beau Biden to stand up and take a bow.

    1. “Oh, God love ya!”

  5. And then there were nine.

    Actually I have no idea how many candidates the GOP has campaigning now. Are we up to the dirty dozen yet?

    1. Dirty Dozen? I think it’s the Filthy Fifteen at this point.

      1. According to Wikipedia it’s a Salacious Sixteen. Ten declared, plus Jindal and Trump announcing soon with Jeb, Kaisch, Walker and Christie to follow.

        1. All that – and the closest we have to a libertarian candidate is Rand Paul – who has to run as a Republicrap?

        2. All that – and the closest we have to a libertarian candidate is Rand Paul – who has to run as a Republicrap?

      2. Our election cycle is pretty much a metaphor for ASOIAF. The way of the five twelve kings here in the westeros GOP vs. Hillary Stormborn of House Clinton, first of her name, mother of Sheiks, breaker of laws, and protector of her racketeering.

    2. Really? This disqualifies him?
      I’ll guarantee none of those quoted were fans of Sen Cruz, or even Republican supporters, before the joke, either.
      Most conservative of the bunch, so he scares a lot of people and they will try anything to get him out.

  6. I hadn’t noticed til just now (probably because I didn’t read that issue. Probably because Ted Cruz was on the cover), Cruz looks like he’s about to cry on that reason cover. Or he’s taking a really good, or really painful, dump.

    1. He always looks like he’s about to cry, is crying, or just stopped crying. He does have a pretty punchable face.

    2. Yep. That issue went straight from the mailbox into the garbage. Did not like the cover. Definitely not reading it.

      And I’m gonna say it was a really good dump.

    3. That is mid painful dump. That is the point in the dump where you 1) question why you started this dump 2) if there is a god and if there is, why would he allow a turd bigger than your anus and 3) question everything you have ever eaten.

  7. Look, Ted Cruz has to find some way to get people to pay attention to him.

    1. All publicity is good publicity. Or is that only in fashion?

      1. Or is that only in fashion?

        Or if you’re a Clinton.

      2. “I don’t care what they say about me in the papers as long as they spell my name right.”

  8. It’s not like he dragged Biden’s son into the joke. If you’re gonna flame out for telling a home about someone just because he’s burying an adult child and it’s therefore “too soon” at lest go big:

    Vice president Joe Biden’s son recently died of brain cancer. At least we know the vice president will never have to worry about that himself.

  9. I wish there was a transcript because I couldn’t tell what he was saying either way at least he knows how many states their are. BTW my iphone sometimes spells pototaoe with an “E” and I always do just to piss people off.

    1. The Joke: “Vice President Joe Biden, you know the nice thing? You don’t need a punch line.”

  10. To be fair, you wouldn’t really expect Mr. Haney to have knowledge of anything outside his hometown of Hooterville.

  11. Can we convince everyone that it’s in poor taste for the government to continue operating in my time of grief?

    1. Yes, I’m still grieving for my dead Constitution. Let’s suspend all government activities until my grief ends, with my death or 2200, which ever comes later.

      1. It’s dead, Jim.

    2. Considering that your grief would probably be the result of police killing your entire family, unlikely.

  12. “I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy….”

    of course you wouldn’t. that would be progjection.

  13. Cruz is another Neocon who wants to go on crusades in the Middle East.

    1. Cool story, bro.

    2. Maybe so, but that hardly makes his joke anything remotely out of bounds. But then again I’m uniquely able to separate my distaste for someone or their policies from screams of bloody murder about a mild and completely sanitized line of humor.

  14. Has anyone announced the official date when it will be OK to tell jokes about Biden again?

    I could see some outrage if he had gone after Biden or his son in a personal way. That joke was pretty lame.

    1. It wasn’t an outstanding joke, but I got it the second he said the name & paused. “Vice President Joe Biden” is a pretty funny joke (like “Vice President Spiro Agnew?”). Just because you’re a joke doesn’t mean you don’t go thru bad times, and just because you’re going thru a bad time (& this wont be his last, I’m sure) doesn’t mean you’re not still a joke. Come on, it’s Cruz’s presidential campaign, he’s got only a year & a half to joke about Biden, does Cruz have to cut out of that time swaths to allow for the object of his joke to be grieving about unrelated things?

  15. I cannot be the only person who listened to that joke and thought, “Is that it? That mild jab is what Cruz is in trouble for now?” Talk about setting the bar low…

    1. Nope – I’m with you.

      While the joke’s timing was certainly in indefensibly bad taste, Fuck you, Gillespie, for participating in the piling on this non event.

    2. The Left manufactures outrage to deflect attention from the truly disgusting things that are running rampant in its midst.
      Between CF/CGI, and the Iranian Nuke talks, they need all of the deflection they can get.

  16. She is not a moderate. She is an amoral crap weasel that will say and do anything to continue to suckle on the body public. then check all report news this way…. http://moourl.com/gjftp

    1. Oh no, the Borg, it has my leg and won’t let go.

  17. I agree it’s in bad form to kick a man while he’s down. But it’s not as though Cruz made a joke about Beau Biden being dead. I don’t see any reason to get our panties in a bunch about a badly timed public comment about a public figure.

  18. Thing is Biden’s son might have been cured by cannabis. Joe is a total Drug Warrior. I call that Just desserts.

  19. Cruz is a libertarian? Coulda fooled me.

  20. This is just more libtard hyper-sensitivity. Did Biden suspend his campaign? Announce that he’s not running for president anymore? Are all politicians who have unfortunate things happen in their lives supposed to be “off limits” to criticism? Reagan was shot – did the libtards leave him alone?

  21. I don’t like this douche but you gotta be kiddin me that this is a story. He said the guy’s name AND A LOT OF PEOPLE LAUGHED. That doesn’t add up to people being happy anyone’s dead. Slow news day.

  22. Hell, I think we’re all missing the point… The Clinton Foundation is probably funding all the Republicans to run so that she can look like ‘an easy choice’ and win the WH next year.

    Think strategies and tactics and who’s trying to get our minds off Clinton’s failures and how they’re doing it…

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