Ted Cruz: Death by GIF

The Toxic Optics Inherent to Being Ted Cruz Were Just Inescapable

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An animated GIF titled "Ted Cruz repeatedly elbowing his wife in the face" has racked up more than 1 million views on gfycat.com in less than 24 hours. The unfortunate incident is running up the numbers in various forms elsewhere too, from Instagram to YouTube to Vine.

Since the dawn of broadcast media, political observers and operatives have obsessed about the impact of the soundbite on our body politic. But in the 2016 presidential race, the soundless bite came to define the Cruz campaign.

You didn't even need to hear from Ted Cruz to have a visceral (negative) reaction to him. He was so notoriously uncomfortable in his own skin that a prankster created the Ted Cruz for Human President website ("Hello I am Tedcruz Forpresident. I have over 42 years! I wish to shut down the space program and destroy all telescopes, abruptly and without explanation").

Cruz was a disastrous candidate for a lot of reasons, but his Ted Cruz-iness was clearly at the core of his failure. Beyond being widely despised by his D.C. colleagues, he was arguably just too ... gross to be president. His political brand became synonymous with creepy awkwardness.

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What lessons can be learned from the failure of the Cruz campaign? None, really. Other than that the toxic optics inherent to being Ted Cruz were just inescapable.

Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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