TRUMP VS CRUZ: Which Candidate Is Really the Smarmy One?

Written by Michael Cummings on March 27, 2016

smarm·y: ˈsmärmē/ adjective: ingratiating and wheedling in a way that is perceived as insincere or excessive; “a smarmy, unctuous reply”; synonyms: unctuous, ingratiating, slick, oily, greasy, obsequious, sycophantic, fawning 
In 2007, Donald Rumsfeld was excoriated for saying “You go to war with the Army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” Those were harsh words and not likely what anyone wants to hear, but I have to wonder when this hasn’t been the case in all of military history. Resources are never unlimited, nor are preferred attributes of an elected official at any level of government. 

I was speaking to a relative in the last couple days, asking him about what presidential candidate he prefers. He isn’t a big fan of Donald Trump but knows what a disaster a Hillary Clinton administration would be. When I asked what he thought of Ted Cruz, he paused, said he liked him, but overall wasn’t sure Cruz’s image would carry him through the general election. When I ask what he meant, I came upon an all-too-common perception I believe has to be squashed into oblivion. 


Traits likes constitutional knowledge, articulation/communication, sincerity, vision, leadership, faith in God…these things should lead the list of requirements for Commander In Chief. How someone looks or what vibe he gives off should sit at the bottom. Do we wish Cruz looked like an A list Hollywood star? Considering the destructive forces our country faces, who cares? Looks and the subjective notion of charisma are irrelevant.  

To me, it’s weird that actress Stacey Dash would say this about Ted Cruz: “I’ve said publicly that there was something smarmy about Ted Cruz that I couldn’t put my finger on.”   

Smarmy, as in “oily” or “greasy” in an insincere way? It’s a curious accusation against Cruz because if we’re going to attack someone’s looks or mannerisms – I hate doing this but let’s play along – would it be fair to criticize Donald Trump’s legendary combover, orange skin, and a speech pattern that requires repeating things in triplicate?

Between a candidate who primarily sticks to the meat of an issue, versus one who utters adolescent and ungrammatical babble behind his Twitter handle, to whom should we assign the word “smarmy”?

In this 2016 presidential race, we get behind the candidate we believe is best for our country. Not the perfect candidate we wish for, for there is none, but the best candidate among those who’ve stepped forward.

If ever there was a time to stick to the issues, now is it. Let’s cut through the exterior of those seeking our votes, and demand solid answers to tough questions. Hairstyles, skin color, and irrelevant idiosyncrasies be damned. 

Images: Donald Trump via photopin (license); and: Ted Cruz via photopin (license)

Share if you agree the “smarmy” charge can be thrown around a bit too carelessly.

Michael Cummings
Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns.