The Washington Post on Tuesday night pulled a political cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Ann Telnaes straightforwardly titled “Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props.” The cartoon (which you can see here) implies that two monkeys depicted in a scene with Cruz are his daughters and appears to be in response to a new ad dripping with sarcasm that features the Texas Republican reading faux Christmas stories to his children. Cruz starts by reading the poem “The Night Before Christmas” only the word “Christmas” is replaced with “shutdown.” If that tickles your funny bone give the ad a look, there’s plenty more where that came from—“How Obamacare Stole Christmas” and “The Grinch Who Lost Her Emails.”
Cruz was understandably not happy with the cartoon.
The depiction of Cruz’s daughters raised the ongoing, thorny issue of when and how (if ever) it is appropriate to make a politician’s family—particularly young children—a part of the story. All politicians to some extent use Christmas card-like caricatures of their families as political props, but whether that makes them open to scrutiny as public figures has always been open to different interpretations. Telnaes, for her part, thinks the ad makes Cruz’s children open to media coverage and Tweeted as much on Tuesday saying: “Ted Cruz has put his children in a political ad- don't start screaming when editorial cartoonists draw them as well.” Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, however, disagreed:
It’s generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it. I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree.