The term comes from the Middle Dutch word hoken, which referred to an itinerant peddler. You know, somebody who traveled from village to village, hawking (which also comes from hoken, by the way) his wares. Inexpensive pots and pans, jugs and jars, knives and scissors. Cheap goods that needed replacing or repair with some frequency.
By the middle of the 19th century, huckster had taken on an offensive connotation through much of the world. Hucksters were considered to be a low form of swindler, people who relied on the gullibility, greed, naïveté, prejudice, vanity, pride, and dishonesty of their customers to sell them a product of low quality — or one that didn’t work at all. A snake oil salesman.
Which brings us to Senator Ted Cruz. Unlike many Republican politicians from Texas, Cruz isn’t stupid. I mean, when Congressman Louie Gohmert argues against providing US funds to China to help preserve the habitat of certain rare species of wild cats and dogs because (and seriously, I’m NOT making this up) he’s concerned the Chinese will turn those dogs and cats into “moo goo dog pan or moo goo cat pan,” you can assume he must have nibbled on lead paint as a child. Gohmert is just stupid.
Ted Cruz isn’t stupid. Cruz went to Harvard Law, and graduated magna cum laude, He clerked for J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which is a big deal. He then clerked for William Rehnquist, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, which is an even bigger deal. Ted Cruz is not stupid.
He is, though, a complete jackass. An arrogant poseur, a smarmy and egregious dick, a huckster of the first order. His latest snake oil scam? He’s introduced two (not just one, but two) bills that would ‘protect’ states that bar same-sex couples from marrying.
The first bill (S.J. Res. 12) is called ‘a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to marriage’. It would apparently (and I say ‘apparently’ because Cruz hasn’t supplied the text of the proposed bill yet) create an actual constitutional amendment prohibiting legal action against states that banned same-sex marriage. That’s right, this wanker is proposing to change the goddam U.S. Constitution to reflect his own religious values. And I use the term ‘values’ loosely.
The second bill (S. 1080) would apparently (and again I say ‘apparently’ for the same reason; Cruz hasn’t bothered to actually write the text of the bill) limit the jurisdiction of Federal courts to consider cases involving same-sex marriage. Basically, Cruz wants to block the power of Federal courts to hear or rule on marriage equality cases until after his constitutional amendment bullshit has been resolved.
These two bills are theater, part of his right-wing kabuki dance intended to feed the homophobia of the ignorant yahoos who might vote for him during the presidential primaries. Neither of the bills has a fucking prayer of ever becoming law. Cruz knows this. Remember, he’s not actually stupid, though he plays stupid on television. These proposals will not only give him cred among right-wing lunatics, they’ll force the other Republican candidates to take a position on them. That means they’ll either fall in line with Cruz, which makes him look like a leader, or they’ll oppose them, which will weaken them in the eyes of the rabid Republican right-wing Either way, it’s a waste of time and money on symbolic, self-serving claptrap.
In other words, it’s classic Ted Cruz — the strongest and best liniment known for the cure of all pain and lameness. For external use only.