Republic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator (R-TX) Ted Cruz is a sci-fi and comic book fan, something highlighted in an interview published last week by The New York Times Magazine. Yet his specific taste in protagonists has generated some criticism, after MSNBC made note of Cruz’s five favorite superheroes, listed in the Times piece, in order: Spider-Man, Wolverine, Batman, Iron Man, Rorschach from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons‘ “Watchmen.”
The first four are nothing surprising — four of the very highest-profile superheroes in pop culture — but Rorschach sticks out, for not only being a slightly more esoteric choice, but also being a questionable example of a “superhero.” In “Watchmen,” Rorschach is a brutal killer with definite mental issues, acting on the force of good against evil, taken to extreme degrees — widely interpreted as a satire of rigid right-wing ideals.
Quickly, many — including that MSNBC piece and multiple observers on Twitter — made note of Rorschach being a curious if not alarming choice for a presidential candidate to name as one of his favorite superheroes.
Ted Cruz’s favorite superheroes: 1. Carnage 2. Venom 3. Rorschach 4. Bane 5. Hitler
– Pogo The Death Clown (@Bro_Pair) July 27, 2015
Ted Cruz’s fifth favorite superhero is Rorschach? That’s like listing your top five guides to parenthood and including A Modest Proposal.
– Ric Squidborn (@SquidFromSpace) July 27, 2015
Ted Cruz really missed the point of Watchmen. Rorschach is a satire of sociopathic violent right wing superheroes. pic.twitter.com/Tp1xSP9ggo
– Andreu Aitch (@AndreuAitch) July 26, 2015
Jeet Heer, Senior Editor of long-running left-leaning publication The New Republic, defended Cruz’s choice in a series of tweets Sunday night, collected in Storify form as Ted Cruz Isn’t Wrong to Call Watchmen’s Rorschach a Hero. Heer wrote, in an examination of Moore and Gibbons’ work as a whole and Rorschach’s actions in the story’s final act, “Despite Moore’s intent, Rorschach becomes not figure of satire but moral center of book. And ironically reaffirms ideal of superhero.” Yet towards the conclusion of his statements, Heer commented, “Mind you, in real life Rorschach would be a terrible president and would lead the world to disaster. As would Ted Cruz!”
Cruz’s Rorschach fandom has also attracted unqualified praise, including the website Young Conservatives. “A character like Rorschach might have been created with the idea of making conservatives look bad, but in reality, it does the opposite,” the site’s Michael Cantrell wrote. “Nobody likes a hero who constantly compromises on their values and beliefs or who is too scared to stand up and do the right thing because it comes with a heavy price.”
Currently, Ted Cruz is polling seventh out of the field of Republican presidential candidates, according to combined data on RealClearPolitics.