I kind of expected this to happen. Flag burning has been introduced as an issue in the race for the U.S. Senate in Texas. Except that it’s been distorted to something that bears no resemblance to what was actually said.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican incumbent, has accused Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke of favoring the burning of the Stars and Stripes as a form of political protest.
Oops! O’Rourke didn’t say such a thing, as the Texas Tribune has reported.
It seems that O’Rourke was asked at a town hall meeting to discuss political protest and, in particular, the landmark 1989 Texas v. Johnson U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared flag burning to be a legitimate form of political protest.
O’Rourke gave a lengthy, long-winded answer to a question, but didn’t actually endorse flag burning. The Cruz campaign cherry-picked a portion of O’Rourke’s answer and linked it to flag burning, rather than to the broader issues that O’Rourke addressed in his town hall response.
Read the Tribune’s explanation here.
I fear this is the kind of thing we can expect in this campaign, which appears to be much closer than the Cruz Missile and the Texas Republican Party ever expected it to become. O’Rourke — a congressman from El Paso — has drawn essentially even with Cruz. He is campaigning in all 254 Texas counties, even in those rural counties where he figures to get clobbered by Republican voters.
As for whether he supports flag burning as a form of political protest, I think I can discern O’Rourke’s view, which well might mirror my own: I understand the act to be a legitimate form of political protest, but just don’t do it in front of me if you expect me to be swayed to whatever point you’re trying to make.