Remember the good ol’ days of, say, late March and early April? It was a simpler time. The Dallas Stars were at the start of their season-closing winning streak. Television writers were not yet on strike. And around the country, folks were freaking out over a can of Bud Light sent from the brewer to Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer, whose face adorned the custom can she was delivered. There were boycotts. Kid Rock bought cases just to shoot them. Dan Crenshaw went to his fridge to toss his cans out, only to announce that he didn’t even drink the stuff! Some guy got arrested at a Walmart for smashing cases of Busch Light by mistake. Normal 2023 stuff.
Seemingly nostalgic for those halcyon days, Ted Cruz decided in mid-May to use his esteemed office to ramp up the pressure on Bud Light. Not just to complain, as a consumer of the product, that he was offended by the company’s choice to affiliate with a transgender woman—but to urge Brendan Whitworth, the company’s CEO and the chairman of the beer industry’s self-regulatory body, the Beer Institute, to investigate whether by reaching out to Mulvaney, Bud Light somehow . . . broke . . . the law?
Generally speaking, such matters shouldn’t be of concern to a United States senator, or any government authority—so long as everyone involved is at least 21 years of age. Ted Cruz is free to buy whatever brand of beer he likes. Like Kid Rock before him, he is free to blow some up, just as long as he buys it first. It’d be weird and wasteful, but those hours and hours of the junior senator’s podcast, Verdict with Ted Cruz, don’t fill themselves. But to be very clear: There is no law against a beer company making a special can of beer and giving it to an influencer, regardless of that person’s gender.
Cruz’s rationale for calling for the investigation is that Mulvaney, who was born in 1996 and is thus 26 years old—which is older than 21—reaches fans who are younger than the legal drinking age. In the letter, which he coauthored with his Tennessee colleague Marsha Blackburn, Cruz argued that Mulvaney’s audience “skews significantly younger than the legal drinking age.” Thus, according to Cruz, the gift was a ploy by Bud Light to persuade prepubescent girls to seek out the beverage. What an argument! Cruz penned no letter to Michelob Ultra, for example, when that beer company hired Lego Movie star Chris Pratt for its 2018 Super Bowl campaign. He didn’t request an investigation into Budweiser for its 2019 ad featuring a Clydesdale horse and an adorable puppy, despite the commercial’s clear and obvious appeal to horse girls everywhere. And yet the letter to Whitworth threatened possible serious consequences for Anheuser-Busch if it didn’t sever its relationship with Mulvaney and apologize.
“We would urge you,” the letter read, “in your capacity at Anheuser-Busch, to avoid a lengthy investigation by the Beer Institute by instead having Anheuser-Busch publicly sever its relationship with Dylan Mulvaney, publicly apologize to the American people for marketing alcoholic beverages to minors, and direct Dylan Mulvaney to remove any Anheuser-Busch content from [her] social media platforms.”
Just like Ted Cruz, who enjoys reading children’s books on the floor of the Senate, Mulvaney creates certain content that appeals to children and other content that is aimed at adults. But is Cruz really that concerned with inappropriately glamorizing adult vices? His own campaign sold T-shirts in 2015 with a photoshopped image featuring the junior senator tattooed and shirtless, a cigarette dangling from his lip, after all. Poor taste does not warrant an investigation, but it also makes Cruz’s suggestion that his concern with Mulvaney is her audience, rather than her gender identity, seem a bit less credible.
For its part, Anheuser-Busch appeared to be unmoved by the junior senator’s urging. In a statement, the company wrote, “All of Anheuser-Bush’s marketing is directed to adults of legal drinking age, and the engagement of this social media influencer was in compliance with the Beer Institute’s Advertising and Marketing Code.” We’re sure that will clear things right up and settle this entire matter once and for all.