ICYMI: Your TPM Weekend News Roundup

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February 19, 2021 4:55 p.m.

Flyin’ Ted

  • Buckle up. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) found himself in a polar vortex of outrage after photos surfaced overnight Wednesday showing the senator and his family traveling to Cancun as his home state reeled from power outages and a lack of running water.
  • The backlash was so swift that Cruz found himself on a flight back to Houston a day after he left.
  • Texas GOP Chair Allen West left Cruz hanging, telling the AP that the senator will have to answer for his actions.
  • After hours of silence, Cruz finally addressed the ill-timed getaway … by blaming his pre-teen children.
  • Cruz returned to Texas around 4 p.m. local time Thursday. He told reporters the trip was a “mistake” but that he was just trying to be a good parent.
  • The story took another turn Thursday evening when the New York Times published leaked text messages from Cruz’s wife, Heidi, inviting neighbors along for the vacation.
  • Cruz retreated to the safe space of Fox News to offer a little contrition, but no formal apology.
  • The Houston Chronicle, one of the largest papers in the state, called for Cruz to resign over the fiasco. “Take our advice, senator, and resign,” the editorial board wrote. “Seems like you could use a break and we could, too, from an ineffective politician who, even in crisis, puts his personal itinerary before the needs of Texans.”

GOP In Disarray

  • Local Republican parties are taking every chance they can to punish their U.S. members of Congress and senators for daring to buck former President Trump. GOP county committees in Pennsylvania voted to censure Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) for his vote to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial.
  • A local Republican official in Pennsylvania delivered this unforgettable quote on Toomey: “We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing or whatever he said he was doing,” a GOP chair in Washington County told local CBS affiliate KDKA.
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who also faced a censure at home, blasted the move. “It is truly a sad day for North Carolina Republicans,” Burr said in a statement. “My party’s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation.”
  • And in a strange letter full of praise, the Maine Republican Party criticized Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for her vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial.

Racist Shock Jock, 70, Dead

  • Longtime conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh died on Wednesday after suffering for months with Stage 4 lung cancer. His wife announced his death on his show. As we chronicled here, Limbaugh was one of the most famous and successful broadcasters on the right for decades, using culture way appeals, racism, sexism and grievance politics to drum up a loyal audience. Limbaugh paved the track so Trump could run.
  • Conservatives across the board issued eyebrow raising praise of Limbaugh’s career and offered heartfelt condolences at his passing. Many in the mainstream media were mocked for treating his passing like an archaic embodiment of the “don’t speak ill of the dead” adage. Many members of the media, including TPM, chronicled some of Limbaugh’s worst, and most vile, hits — including giving former President Obama the monicker “Barack, the Magic Negro” and his gleeful celebrations of people who died from AIDS.
  • Nonetheless, some conservative politicians were willing to ignore the problematic influence the radio host had on the conservative movement. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ordered that flags be flown at half-staff to honor Limbaugh’s passing.

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