Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown a "complete ass" for asking other senators to wear face masks on Monday, and now Cruz is taking some heat online. Brown asked Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan to "please wear a mask," to which Sullivan responded: "I don't need your instruction." Later, on Twitter, Cruz said that Brown was displaying "an ostentatious sign of fake virtue."
The exchange between Brown and Sullivan on the Senate floor was tense on Monday, as Sullivan spoke with his face mask splayed on the desk in front of him. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also wore no mask, and Brown pointed out that aides and other staff members were in close proximity to the other lawmakers. "There clearly isn't much interest in this body in public health," he said. He said the Republican senators were "exposing all the people who can't say anything — I understand — the people in front of you and the presiding officer, expose all the staff here, and the majority leader just doesn't seem to care."
This is idiotic. @SherrodBrown is being a complete ass. He wears a mask to speak—when nobody is remotely near him—as an ostentatious sign of fake virtue.@DanSullivan_AK was over 50 feet away, presiding. Last I checked 50 feet is more than 6 feet. https://t.co/BoIGrAV7T1— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 17, 2020
Cruz's tweet ignored Brown's point about the aides and other staff members close to Sullivan and McConnell, saying that "nobody is remotely near him," when the C-SPAN video clearly shows staffers within six feet of Sullivan. Many commenters complained that Cruz was effectively admitting that he does not see those state employees "as people worth protecting."
Cruz often comes under fire for his blunt political commentary on Twitter, which some followers mused is sounding more and more like that of President Donald Trump. Cruz has also questioned the expertise of public health officials throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a look at the response he got on Twitter on Monday night and Tuesday morning.
It’s pretty revealing that you don’t consider the staffers right in front of Sullivan as people worth protecting.
Only the senators matter, right? pic.twitter.com/oTXoPjE5UT— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) November 17, 2020
There is quite literally staff in the room that are within 6 feet, you lying oaf. pic.twitter.com/0nmDmHfP3U— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) November 17, 2020
Many commenters pointed out that there were people in proximity to Sullivan and McConnell, in spite of Cruz's tweet, and drew the conclusion that Cruz simply does not care about those people.prevnext
'Like the Rest of Us'
Wear a goddamn mask inside like the rest of us so we can attempt to get past this please— Kevin B (@bixford24) November 17, 2020
Commenters also mocked Cruz, saying that Americans have already adjusted to wearing face masks in stores, restaurants and even schools, while it still remains a point of debate in the Senate. They urged Cruz and other anti-mask pundits to get on board so that the pandemic can be dealt with more quickly.prevnext
Once again: it’s better not to take mask on and off so as not to contaminate it. Plus—in my case, at least—mask wearing reminds me not to touch face, nose, eyes. Mask protects you, me, and my cancer-survivor husband. Grow up for once, SENATOR. JFC.— McDulph #VeteranForBiden (@CMcdulph) November 17, 2020
1. Come on, Senator Cruz, set an example. Your statement ignores the fact that the coronavirus is airborne, so there's no safe distance indoors, even beyond 6ft. You also misrepresent @SenSherrodBrown who is clearly defending Senate staff right in front of the presiding officer🧵 https://t.co/KeBiJXjbcn— Dr. Ali Nouri (@AliNouriPhD) November 17, 2020
Some followers found themselves in the position of explaining mask safety protocol to Cruz, and were frustrated by it. They pointed out that it diminishes a mask's efficacy to take it off and put it back on frequently and to lay it down on a table as Sullivan did. They implored Cruz and other senators to listen to what the CDC recommends and to lead by example.prevnext
Chuck Grassley, an 87-year-old colleague of Ted Cruz, was on the Senate floor yesterday
Grassley has just announced he was exposed to coronavirus and has gone into quarantine on the advice of doctors https://t.co/8YFhbklJV0— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) November 17, 2020
While Cruz railed against coronavirus safety measures, critics pointed out that there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 exposure in the Senate on the exact day in question. Sen. Chuck Grassley is now in self-isolation at the behest of his doctors.prevnext
Just wear a mask.
Why is caring about other people's health so hard for you? https://t.co/u9OIJDmdAy— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) November 17, 2020
Here, clown. I mean, mime. pic.twitter.com/ORszm3eTGL— Vote (And Wear A Damned Mask) 🇺🇸 (@CommittoVote) November 17, 2020
Many commenters were dumbfounded that masks are even still a point of contention, especially among public figures. They argued that this is an easy precaution to take, and does not bear the amount of arguing it has precipitated.prevnext
Sometimes something you think is a sign of fake virtue is actually just simple virtue. But since you don't have any capacity for sincerity or empathy, I can see why you don't see that.— Ward Q. Normal (@WardQNormal) November 17, 2020
You wouldn’t know virtue if it came up and slapped you in the face. https://t.co/wJ4rtoCqUQ— Karoli 🇺🇸 (@Karoli) November 17, 2020
Some commenters had snide responses to Cruz when it comes to "virtue." They argued that if he thought Brown was displaying "fake virtue," he was the one misreading the situation.prevnext
Or a complete cad who cannot stand by his wife when another man demeans her.— Sharon (@SharonGF_NBCT) November 17, 2020
Finally, regardless of whether they related more to Cruz or Brown in this scenario, many commenters were disappointed by Cruz's language, feeling that the level of discourse in the Senate has deteriorated overall. They longed for a return to respect and eloquence in American politics.prev