Ted Cruz praises (and nearly spoils) new ‘Star Wars’

TRUSSVILLE, Ala. — Before a rally here, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made a confession. He could not really answer a question about Hillary Clinton’s performance in the ABC News-sponsored Democratic debate on Saturday night — because he did not watch it.

“I actually went and watched the opening of Star Wars, ” Cruz said, “which, frankly, was a reality far more realistic than whatever was said at the Democratic debate.”

The Republican presidential candidate went on to criticize Clinton’s role in the Obama administration and started to wind up the news conference — until he was asked what he thought of the movie.

Star Wars was awesome,” Cruz said, “although I have to say, there’s an image — and I’m not going to be a spoiler — but as someone who grew up, as someone who stood with his dad for three hours to see the opening of The Empire Strikes Back, as someone who grew up, as a kid, idolizing Han Solo as perhaps the coolest character in all of cinema, I will say there was an image last night that will scar me forever. I’m not going to spoil what it is, but it was highly traumatic.”

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It was not technically a spoiler, but it hinted strongly at a plot point that movie-spoilers have cruelly spread across the Internet. Cruz, who dashes his speeches with pop culture references, is unabashed about his fandoms. Last month, he indulged in a half-joking round of questions from the Weekly Standard about whether conservatives should empathize with the stabilizing force of the Empire over the chaos of the rebel alliance. (That debate has raged, with some sarcasm and some passion, for at least since Jonathan V. Last’s 2002 essay “The Case for the Empire.”)

“I am particularly fond of some rebels in 1776 who were a destabilizing, chaotic force, and they fought for human liberty against the oppressions of the crown,” Cruz said. “And [Darth] Vader didn’t even work for King George.” The destruction of the planet Alderaan by the Death Star, he said, was “an act of oppressive totalitarianism.”