In a Wednesday New York Times story, readers were treated to a series of anecdotes recalling Sen. Ted Cruz's days as an eccentric undergraduate debater. While he was at Princeton University in the early 1990s, the Texas Republican, in a fit of weird whimsy, delivered this unfunny "joke" about how to better track a woman's fidelity (emphasis ours):
"Mr. Cruz's own attempts at humor sometimes missed the mark," the New York Times reports, with characteristic understatement. "In one debate, he proposed a method to detect infidelity, in which God should 'give women a hymen that grows back every time she has intercourse with a different guy because that will be a 'visible sign' of the breach of trust,' according to a recollection by David Kennedy published in a Harvard debate team reunion booklet in 2001.
"Mr. Kennedy's debate partner mocked Mr. Cruz's knowledge of the subject matter by contorting herself to see how the anatomy in question could be 'visible,' according to the booklet."
Why it matters: Cruz is not running for president because of his record of achievement in the Senate or work as a lawyer in the George W. Bush administration. Cruz is a relevant candidate because he is an outsize partisan figure, a swashbuckling speaker and often, it should be said, an amusing troll of President Barack Obama's more liberal policies.
Given that, there are still a lot of Americans who wouldn't be too keen to see their — or anyone else's — stupidest college-age "jokes" published in the paper of record. But Cruz, along with his fellow candidates, is a special case. As an aspirant to the White House, the takeaways from this kind of story should provide a number of relevant insights into, if not what, how he thinks about the world — one in which many societies do, in fact, conduct virginity tests on their young or unmarried women, with death, prison or physical assault awaiting those who "fail" the examinations.
Does Cruz think that's a joke? Let's assume he does not. But will he make eradicating this kind of violence a priority in a potential administration? Cruz will have plenty of time to answer that.