Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who endorsed Donald Trump despite the fact that Trump insulted his wife’s appearance on Twitter and claimed his father helped kill JFK, is no stranger to humiliation. So losing a Twitter fight with the actor who plays Luke Skywalker on the weekend of a new Star Wars movie is probably pretty far down his personal list of “times I became aware I was a public disgrace.” But it’s still pretty fucking funny. On Saturday, Mark Hamill noticed that the video FCC chairman Ajit Paj made making fun of net neutrality supporters featured not only disgraced journalist Benny Johnson and, apparently, Pizzagate conspiracist Martina Markota, but also a lightsaber. This did not sit well with Hamill, the first person to wield a lightsaber onscreen, and so he tweeted about it:
Cute video Ajit "Aren't I Precious?" Pai 🤮-but you are profoundly unworthy 2 wield a lightsaber-A Jedi acts selflessly for the common man-NOT lie 2 enrich giant corporations. Btw-did you pay John Williams his royalty? @AjitPaiFCCorpShill #AJediYouAreNOT pic.twitter.com/SpIcOEySUY— @HamillHimself (@HamillHimself) December 16, 2017
At this point in the story, however things ultimately work out for the internet, things had worked out all right for Ted Cruz. He hadn’t been publicly humiliated, he hadn’t said anything stupid to Mark Hamill, and people were beginning to forget about his Twitter porn disaster this fall. But no Star Wars fan can resist the Call to Adventure, and Cruz must have sensed that the best person to destroy Ted Cruz online was none other than Ted Cruz. So for reasons people who are not Ted Cruz may never understand, he tweeted this:
.@HammillHimself Luke, I know Hollywood can be confusing, but it was Vader who supported govt power over everything said & done on the Internet. That's why giant corps (Google, Facebook, Netflix) supported the FCC power grab of net neutrality. Reject the dark side: Free the net! https://t.co/nARkMvIEYk— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 17, 2017
So, first of all, Darth Vader has never heard of the internet—it was a long time ago!—and second of all, whatever other flaws his approach to governance may have had, he was known for a healthy skepticism of centralized, technology-based solutions. It’s a neat trick, too, to find companies that agree with 83 percent of American voters and pretend that means that supporting Comcast over your own constituents is some kind of brave rebellion. Anyway, the main thing is that Cruz tweeted that at @HammillHimself, which would be a weird Twitter handle for Mark Hamill, with one M, to have. But whether this was an innocent misspelling or a clever way to avoid getting called out by the Star Wars legend, Cruz was out of luck: Hamill responded personally—extremely personally—with a reference to Cruz’s Twitter porn fiasco:
Thanks for smarm-spaining it to me @tedcruz I know politics can be confusing, but you'd have more credibility if you spelled my name correctly. I mean IT'S RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU! Maybe you're just distracted from watching porn at the office again❤️-mh https://t.co/nHpJVG1Wpe— @HamillHimself (@HamillHimself) December 17, 2017
For a guy like Ted Cruz—who once did a horrible impression of Darth Vader on the Senate floor—getting owned on Twitter by Luke Skywalker himself has to be at least as depressing as, say, Chris Christie’s nagging feeling that Bruce Springsteen hates his guts. So it’s important to read his response with more charity than Cruz showed condemned inmates. But no amount of compassion can excuse quoting a Star Wars movie—and not just any Star Wars movie, but The Phantom Menace—to Mark Hamill:
Yes, that's it. So sorry to misspell your name. Respond not with facts, but with anger. Who was it that said, "Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate"? (1/2) https://t.co/uwMMzgKC1R— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 17, 2017
Did Hamill’s tweet sound afraid to you, Ted Cruz? Also, Hamill did respond with facts, by my count at least four:
- Ted Cruz is smarmy.
- Politics can be confusing.
- Ted Cruz misspelled Mark Hamill’s name.
- Mark Hamill’s name was, as Hamill wrote, “RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF” Ted Cruz.
The only thing in the tweet that even rises to the level of speculation is the idea that it was Ted Cruz himself who “liked” a porn tweet on Twitter, and if Cruz wants to clear up any confusion there, we’d all love to hear it. But it wouldn’t be a sputtering response from a debate team veteran if it weren’t a tweet thread, so Cruz went on.
(2/2) Rather than insults, try civil discussion of facts. Fact 1: until 2015, the FCC had NO authority over Internet. The Net grew free & unregulated. Fact 2: W/ "net neutrality" the FCC declared power to regulate everything said & done on Internet. That's really bad for freedom. https://t.co/uwMMzgKC1R— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 17, 2017
This is also wildly misleading. As Cruz knows very well, the FCC enforced net neutrality long before 2015, and did so as a specific response to bad behavior from telecoms like Comcast, who throttled and blocked networking traffic until they were forced to stop. The 2015 “common carrier” regulation was a response to Verizon Communications Inc. v. FCC, a decision that required the FCC to classify internet service providers as common carriers so that it could continue to do the very popular work of stopping telecoms from cheating their customers. That’s also “really bad for freedom.” And you can’t start crying about “civil discussion of facts” when you come at an actor with “I know Hollywood can be confusing” right out of the gate. Also: how does Cruz believe he knows anything at all about Hollywood, much less more than Mark Hamill? Is he thinking of that time he stopped by the Masonic Temple to explain to Jimmy Kimmel why his coworkers all hate him? Let’s take a look:
Looks like Cruz offered his opinions about Hollywood in that exchange—much to Kimmel’s amusement—but the senator must have eventually won him over, because during Cruz’s Twitter porn disaster, the late night host publicly proclaimed him innocent. So maybe Cruz does know a little bit about Hollywood, because—wait, no, on closer inspection, Kimmel said Cruz couldn’t have been the person who favorited a porn tweet because “Ted Cruz masturbates to pictures of poor people without health care.” Never mind!
Still, as bad as this smackdown from Luke Skywalker was for Cruz, it’s far from the most embarrassing exchange he’s had on Twitter. In fact, it’s not even the most embarrassing exchange he’s had on Twitter about net neutrality in the last few days! On Thursday, he tweeted this hypothetical conversation, strongly implying that the internet was invented by capitalists, rather than rather than emerging from a wide variety of publicly-funded projects:
Snowflake, believing online propaganda: "OMG w/o net neutrality, the Internet is gone!" Informed observer: "You know, the FCC issued that rule in 2015. The Internet grew up wonderfully free from govt regulation & this restores the status quo ante." Snowflake: "Uh, never mind..."— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 15, 2017
There are a lot of ways one might respond to this fourth-rate con job, but no one did it better than Eoin Higgins, who made a compelling case for net neutrality with a single image drawn from Cruz’s last adventure on the internet:
Ted, let me put the issue as succinctly as possible. pic.twitter.com/QXsr2qWSAp— Eoin Jinglins ☃❄ 🦌 (@EoinHiggins_) December 15, 2017
Don’t feel too bad for Ted Cruz, though. He’s one with the Force now.