Jon Stewart, following a three-month hiatus, returned to his hosting duties on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show Tuesday. Stewart focused a key segment on slamming the call for military intervention in Syria; it featured Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) as one of the voices in support of an attack, distorting a recent quote of his.
At the 3:34 mark, concluding a string of pro-intervention remarks, a brief montage shows Cruz stating: “Bullies and tyrants don’t respect weakness.” The camera remains on him while Stewart scoffs, “Oh right! We have to bomb Syria because we’re in seventh grade! And the red line that they (Syria) crossed is actually a d*ck measuring ribbon.”
The Cruz quote was taken from Cruz’s August 26th appearance on Fox News’ Hannity show, wherein the two discussed Syria and other issues. Both the video and transcript, however, demonstrate the Daily Show writers took a remark by Cruz about America’s overall image under the Obama Administration and instead presented it as though Cruz made the remark in support of military intervention in Syria.
Viewing the Hannity clip from which The Daily Show derived Cruz’s quote, it is clear Cruz expresses skepticism–rather than fervent support–of intervention:
CRUZ: Well, Secretary Kerry is right that Assad using chemical weapons is an outrage and it is wrong. But unfortunately missing from his statement and from the president’s approach so far has been a focus on what the touchstone should be: which is the vital U.S. national security interests of this country. The United States Armed Forces is not–doesn’t exist to be a policeman for the world…
Moving onto a general discussion about Egypt and general foreign policy, the exchange is as follows (starting at 4:36 mark):
HANNITY: We’ve had a 30-month civil war, over a hundred thousand Syrians are dead. We’ve got many more displaced and it seems we’ve gotten to the point where our allies don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us. When you heard Vladimir Putin’s comments, what did you take from that? I took from it [that] he doesn’t care what Obama thinks.
CRUZ: Well, sadly that has been the pattern across the world. Look, if there’s one principle that has proved true from time immemorial, it’s that bullies and tyrants don’t respect weakness. And our friends have sadly grown to learn that the United States under this president has not been a resolute ally. And our enemies have learned that under this president, there is little to fear. And the most dangerous escalation from this is Assad’s patron in Iran which is only seeing these occurrences as further encouragement to continue to develop nuclear weapons, which I think would pose an enormous national security threat to the United States.
Thus, the quote referenced by The Daily Show was, actually, Cruz’s overall assessment that the U.S.’s image, under President Obama, has grown weaker. However, the show’s writers took the quote out of context and used it to misrepresent Cruz as fervently pushing for military intervention in Syria, based on a concern that we would otherwise be perceived as “weak.”
Roughly twelve hours before the show ran, Cruz clearly expressed his opposition to America’s involvement, stating: “We certainly don’t have a dog in the fight. We should be focused on defending the United States of America. That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military not to, as you know, serve as Al Qaeda’s air force.”