The Corner

Politics & Policy

Ted Cruz’s Defensible Enthusiasm for Watchmen’s Rorschach

Katie Jerkovich calls my attention to the mini-brouhaha about Ted Cruz’s selection of his favorite superheroes, most notably his inclusion of Rorschach from Watchmen.

I find myself in the strange position of agreeing with Jeet Heer of The New Republic, who argues that whether or not a comic book reader likes Rorschach’s extreme measures and characterization, he’s indisputably a heroic figure. (Those who roll their eyes at comic-book discussions can skip ahead to the next post.) He’s the one who uncovers the entire conspiracy. He’s driven to investigate and avenge the murder of Eddie Blake when no one else seems to care. And at the climax, when the rest of the heroes assent to a conspiracy of silence to ensure the end of a nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union, Rorschach alone believes that the public deserves the truth instead of a peace-assuring lie. He’s willing to risk his life and die for that belief. Sure, Rorschach is a violent, emotionally-damaged, obsessive vigilante, but all of the characters in this story are pretty deeply flawed.

Not only is Cruz’s selection of Rorschach among his favorites justifiable, it seems kind of fitting. Rorschach’s epitaph is “Never compromise, not even in the face of Armageddon.” Doesn’t that seem like an exaggerated version of Cruz’s philosophy, where he’s willing to publicly fight his party’s leadership and shut down the federal government in order to spare his country from the impact of Obamacare? (You might find a philosophy that prioritizes truth and principle over peace – even in a nuclear consequences — unsettling in a president, but then again, doesn’t every political choice come down to what we value most? Order vs. liberty, etc.)

“Never compromise. Not even in the face of a government shutdown. That’s always been the difference between us, McConnell.”

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