Republican senator Ted Cruz has responded to fiery criticism from John Boehner with a tactic beloved of authoritarian regimes: threatening to burn his book.
In an email to supporters, the Texas politician said he also might machine-gun or chainsaw the memoir, depending on how much his supporters paid for the privilege to watch.
Boehner, a Republican congressman from Ohio for 24 years and House speaker from 2011 to 2015, published his book On the House this week. It contains strong criticism of political figures from Donald Trump to Barack Obama but hits Cruz especially hard.
The senator who drove a government shutdown in 2013 is “Lucifer in the flesh”, Boehner has said.
On the page, he writes: “There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless asshole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else.”
The book also contains a memorable sign-off: “PS, Ted Cruz: Go fuck yourself.”
But Cruz, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and may well do so again in 2024, is nothing if not a bomb-thrower himself, as well as a nimble opportunist.
“John Boehner doesn’t like me much,” his fundraising email said. “That’s fine, I’m not a big fan of his either.”
Calling the speaker-turned-lobbyist a “Swamp Monster” and accusing him of “an unhinged smear campaign”, the email told supporters Cruz had “put this trash right where it belonged, in my fireplace”.
“But I didn’t finish it off just yet,” it added. Instead, the Texas senator announced a “72-hour drive to raise $250,000”, in which donors would “get to VOTE on whether we machine gun the book, take a chainsaw to it or burn the book to light cigars!”
The email also said Cruz would livestream the evisceration or incineration.
There is nothing new about American politicians shooting or eviscerating texts they don’t like in order to raise campaign dollars. Ask the Democratic senator Joe Manchin, who has both taken aim at Obamacare and fired his gun to defend it.
But it could also be pointed out that Cruz’s attempt to stoke outrage – and dollars – might only succeed in bringing Boehner’s book to wider attention.
As Ray Bradbury, author of the classic novel Fahrenheit 451, about a society which bans books, once said: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
On Thursday morning, On the House was the No 1 seller on Amazon.