CNN  — 

Ted Cruz wants to be president. Badly. So badly, in fact, that he’s willing to mock the US military to own the libs. Or something.

On Thursday, Cruz retweeted a TikTok video originally tweeted by Pardes Saleh, whose You Tube page says she is a Texas real estate agent, that purports to contrast a Russian Army ad with an American Army ad.

The Russian ad shows a muscled guy with a shaved head doing pushups and loading a gun. The American ad – which is mostly a cartoon – tells the story of Cpl. Emma Malonelord who says she was “raised by two moms,” graduated at the top of her high school class and then found “a way to prove my inner strength” by joining the Army.

To the original tweet, Cruz appended this: “Holy crap. Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea.”

Which, well, what?

Malonelord would seem to be someone that the military would – and should – point to proudly, a high achiever who found her calling in serving the military.

Is Cruz’s problem that she is a woman? Or that she has two mothers? Or that the ad was animated? (The Army released five similar ads in recent weeks, telling the stories of five people who joined up. All are animated.)

What exactly is “emasculated” about Malonelord or her story? If you take the dictionary definition of the word, what is “made weaker or less effective” by Malonelord being in the Army?

And, while we’re at it: When did it become OK for a sitting US senator – and a Republican, no less! – to mock an active member of the military? Aren’t politicians like Cruz always telling us that our troops are the bravest among us? How does Malonelord being a woman or having two moms change that?

“Holy crap,” tweeted Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D), herself a decorated military vet, in response to Cruz. “Perhaps a U.S. Senator shouldn’t suggest that the *Russian* military is better than the American military that protected him from an insurrection he helped foment?”

Cruz’s office, in a statement sent to CNN, largely ignored the controversy – focusing instead on his support for the military.

“Sen. Cruz passionately supports the brave men and women of the United States military and has repeatedly expressed concerns that Democrat politicians, left wing bureaucrats, and the media are politicizing our armed forces to promote a fringe woke agenda based on identity politics,” Erin Perrine, a spokeswoman, said. “Our military should be focused on winning wars, and we endanger our national security and our servicemembers when they focus on anything else.”

Cruz, of course, knows exactly what he’s doing. He is very interested in running for president in 2024 – witness his recent trip to pay homage to former President Donald Trump – and knows that attacking the “woke” left is a sure-fire winner among a GOP base that responded fervently to Trump’s urgings that the country needs to get stronger and tougher.

“Republicans have to get tougher and fight,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting in 2019. “We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party for the election.”

Cruz is attempting to do just that. Never mind that his attack makes no sense – how is a valedictorian joining the Army something bad or weak? The point is that Cruz is anti-woke – and pro-strength. I think.

The worst thing about all of this is that it will, undoubtedly, work.

As Army Times reported Thursday, the Malonelord video has more than 1 million views on You Tube, with 46,000 dislikes and only 1,000 likes. Comments are now disabled on the video because “the comments violated our social media policy and were not aligned with Army values,” according to Laura DeFrancisco, public affairs chief for the Army Enterprise Marketing Office.

All of which means Cruz will get the affirmation he desperately wants from the Trump base that he desperately needs for his political ambitions. That he will achieve that goal by attacking an active-duty soldier for being a woman or having two moms or appearing in an animated ad – or maybe all three – speaks to the depths that some people will go to in order to own the libs.

This story has been updated with reaction from Cruz’s office.