I've said all along that the Republican primary is not about policy. It's about who can lie best and most effectively to the most people. Donald Trump does it every day, Ben Carson is in a firestorm over it, and now we've got Ted Cruz telling his pack of lies about Cuba and his daddy.
Since he was a boy, Senator Ted Cruz has said, all he wanted to do was “fight for liberty” — a yearning that he says was first kindled when he heard his father’s tales of fighting as a rebel leader in Cuba in the 1950s, throwing firebombs, running guns and surviving torture.
Those stories, retold by Mr. Cruz and by his father, Rafael, have hooked Republican audiences and given emotional power to the message that the Texas senator is pushing as a contender for the party’s presidential nomination. In their telling, the father’s experience in Cuba — when the country was swept up by the charismatic young Fidel Castro, only to see him become a repressive Communist dictator — becomes a parable for the son’s nightmarish vision of government overreach under President Obama.
Leonor Arestuche, 79, a student leader in the ’50s whom the Castro government later hired to verify the supposed exploits of revolutionary veterans, said a term existed for people like Mr. Cruz — “ojalateros,” or wishful thinkers. “People wishing and praying that Batista would fall,” she said, “but not doing much to act on it.”
There is no question that Rafael Cruz, who is now a pastor and his son’s most effective and popular campaign surrogate, was beaten in 1957 at the hands of agents for Fulgencio Batista, the Cuban dictator.
An old neighbor remembers soldiers bloodying the 18-year-old Mr. Cruz’s face and driving off with him that summer. Mr. Cruz gives a harrowing account of soldiers beating him over three or four days, stomping on the back of his head and breaking his teeth. A mug shot in his son’s book shows him with a bruised nose, and a 1959 article in The Daily Texan, the student newspaper at the University of Texas at Austin, which he attended after fleeing to the United States, reported he had lost “half of his upper denture” in the beatings.
The reason Mr. Cruz was arrested, however, is less clear, and he has offered different explanations. In an interview alongside his son in March, Mr. Cruz said he had sought to recruit to the revolutionary cause someone who turned out to be an informant working for Batista’s regime. The 1959 account, though, did not mention any informant; Rafael Cruz said then that the authorities were alerted to his involvement in the resistance by another man, who gave up only Mr. Cruz’s name after Batista’s forces beat it out of him and left him bleeding in the same cell as Mr. Cruz.