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‘Lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes…’

In the annals of American hucksterism, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Poutine) is a political Ron Popeil, albeit without the slicing and dicing. And now he has a fitting monument to his achievements — a 5-dollar 6-dollar coloring book that was slapped together in a few days and sold out its first print run of 10,000 copies almost instantly. Needless to say, when we heard about this thing, we had to rush to the URL and get one so we could share its wacky awfulness with You Our Dear Readers. Because agony such as this should never be endured alone. Is it serious? Is it a joke? These questions are irrelevant. The Ted Cruz coloring book is simply an act of commercial trolling — it could be serious, but it doesn’t have to be. It contains a few incendiary whoppers — we’ll get to them — but for the most part it’s filler, a rightwing-flavored collection of copy-pasted text and terrible art traced from photos and video screengrabs. Also, did we mention there’s a lot of filler?

The book has gotten a lot of attention — and rightly so — for nutty passages like the following, about Cruz’s incredibly amazing not-quite filibuster prior to October’s government shutdown:

This speech was so important because millions of citizens believe Obama Care is worse than any war. At least American soldiers have weapons with which to defend themselves. When American people lose their health insurance they may not have anywhere to go, nothing to protect the children and senior citizens in which to fight disease and personal illness. Many people may get sick and die because they lost their health care coverage during Obama Care. More U.S. citizens may die of illness if they don’t get insurance than died in all U.S. wars since World War II.

Yes, “nothing to protect the children and senior citizens in which to fight disease and personal illness.” We have a feeling Sarah Palin may have helped with the text. Or there’s the cover, which features Cruz pointing to a “tea plant” with branches labeled “U.S. Constitution” and “Ten Commandments” — for some reason, leaves labeled “gun rights” and “free enterprise” are growing out of the latter.

But let us also assess the Ted Cruz coloring book on a more fundamental level: As a coloring book. And there, gentle reader, it fails even harder than it does as copypasted tea party propaganda.

We’d like to say we can’t imagine anyone inflicting this thing on a child — it’s primarily a novelty political tchotchke — but we imagine that there’s a fairly substantial number of unironic purchases by parents who are going to force this on their poor kids. And there is pretty much nothing fun about the pictures or the text. Consider this exciting image:

Pretty much makes you want to break out the crayons for the sheer joy of it, doesn’t it?

And then there’s the text, which doesn’t make even the least pretense of kid-friendliness:

Ted understood early on how to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In his teens, Ted was admired by students and teachers alike and proved to be an inspirational leader and motivator. He attended high school at Faith West Academy in Katy, Texas, and later graduated from Second Baptist High School in Houston as valedictorian. While attending Second Baptist, Cruz participated in the Free Market Education Foundation, learning about free-market economic philosophers. Ted later graduated with honors from Princeton University and with high honors from Harvard Law School. Ted knows caring about others helps make better people.

Mommy, will you please read me Senator Cruz’s curriculum vita again? Please?

A couple pages later, there’s an inept drawing of the Boston Tea Party — which the book doesn’t even name! — followed by these lines which you’ll treasure reading to your child again and again:

Modern Americans draw inspiration from a grassroots protest that happened in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1773 to protest “taxation without representation.”

Propelled by tens of thousands of grassroots activists across Texas, Ted’s election has been described by the Washington Post as “the biggest upset… a true grassroots victory against very long odds.” Cruz was outspent by almost a 6-to-1 margin during his campaign for U.S. Senate.

The people of Texas were tired of the established career politicians and wanted a new strong conservative who will stand up for all people — regardless of race, creed, background, sexual orientation or religious beliefs. Ted Cruz understands he must represent American Constitutional ideas that protect all U.S. citizens.

As a special puzzle for grownups, can you find the group in that last paragraph that doesn’t belong? Sure! We knew you could! Again, not sure if trolling, or if the writer simply didn’t give two shits. Similarly, the next page features a collection of “Historic American Leaders — George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Ronald Reagan, Susan B. Anthony, “Founding Fathers,” Frederick Douglass, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. What the hell is Roosevelt doing in a book about Ted Cruz? Why is Thomas Edison included at all? Kid, you ask too many questions. But here, enjoy coloring this picture of Ronald Reagan with a death’s-head rictus of a smile:

Elsewhere, we get this grim arglebargle about Ted Cruz and the Second Amendment:

Ted Cruz is a firm supporter of the Constitution specifically the Second Amendment. Cruz has stated the president (Obama) has a disregard for the Bill of Rights. That it is not surprising, and it is unfortunate Obama and his administration have a consistent disregard. It seems they use any opportunity to go after the Second Amendment right and other constitutional rights such as free speech.

Hey, Obama, you just knock it off with all that consistent disregard, will you? Parents who read aloud to their kids will also have to explain to them what the “Partial-birth abortion ban” and “parental consent laws” are, which should be almost as much fun as explaining why Americans need to be protected from the UN and the International Court of Justice. And then there’s all the exciting filler, like a page with the Preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (plus Liberty Bell clipart!), another page with the Star Spangled Banner and My Country ‘Tis of Thee, and the text of the Pledge of Allegiance, complete with the instructions “Take this to school and give it to your teacher. Let them know that you want to recite the pledge.” And if they don’t let you, write to Glenn Beck.

We could say a lot more about this slapdash mess of a coloring book (say, did we mention there’s a lot of filler?), but we worry that we may have already given the damned thing more thought than its editors did.

On a scale of Applejack to Princess Luna, this book is a misshapen “My Lattle Pody” knockoff from the dollar store. Caution, may contain lead paint.

Ted Cruz to the Future – Comic Coloring Activity Book Really Big Coloring Books, 2013. 24 pages, $5.99

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