"Now, Mr. Cruz," I'd begin, as polite as can be - polite always being the best way to start these things:
"Now, Mr. Cruz," I'd say, my tone completely measured, totally mild, "as we consider your efforts to take on a larger and larger role in determining our nation's policies, both foreign and domestic, I'm hoping you can clarify one or two matters that are still a cause for some concern.
"Needless to say, Mr. Cruz, we'll be happy to give you the chance to explain to the American people why it was you saw fit to hold - in secret, it appears, and for more than four decades - citizenship in a foreign nation, a large and heavily armed nation situated immediately to our north and sharing a virtually undefended border of more than 3,000 miles.
"We wouldn't dream of questioning your loyalty - or perhaps I should say 'loyalties' -- Mr. Cruz, and I assure you: the American people will be every bit as forgiving as we on this committee are.
"Still, Mr. Cruz, your long and, I regret to say, clandestine treatment of this dual-citizenship matter raises questions that I'm sure you'll wish to address, if only to put to rest any lingering concerns about America's safety and security. But while we await your explanations - and I assume you'll have some explanations, Mr. Cruz -- there are several earlier issues I'd also like you to discuss."
"For instance, Mr. Cruz, it's a matter of public record that you attended college at Princeton University. A fine school, I'm sure. Neither in the public record, however, nor in your opening statement today, is there any explanation for your failure to attend either Harvard or Yale - schools of equal if not superior quality -- instead of Princeton during those particular years. And I certainly think it would be relevant to know just what factors kept you from those specific campuses at that time.
"We don't know, for instance, whether it was allegations of plagiarism while you were in high school, or persistent drug abuse, or possibly even the fear that on a campus such as Harvard or Yale, you might more easily be exposed as a serial stalker.
"Now, I'm not saying we have concrete evidence confirming any of these things, Mr. Cruz, particularly the stalker matter. But isn't that the point, Mr. Cruz? Your record is completely silent on each and every one of these questions. And this is information, as I'm sure you'd concede, that this committee would be obliged to consider were it, in fact, to be corroborated by others in a position to know.
"What we do know, Mr. Cruz, is that you did attend Harvard when it came time for law school. And surely it's a matter of normal curiosity - for us, of course, but for the American people as well - as to how a person who might have been denied undergraduate admission to Harvard for an assortment of moral failings might later be admitted to the same institution's prestigious law school, and have any prior record wiped, as it were, entirely clean.
"Wasn't there a recent article about academic bribery on some website somewhere?
"I want to be fair, Mr. Cruz. The whole notion of second chances, and new beginnings, is an integral part of our American value system. But so, I remind you, is 'Do the crime, do the time,' no matter what some cowardly apologists might claim.
"Is it not our solemn responsibility to assess the success of any rehabilitation efforts you may have undertaken prior to emerging so suddenly and so forcefully into the public eye? Had you - just for instance, Mr. Cruz -- only recently been released from a federal correctional facility, would that not be something the American people ought to know as they weigh your qualifications?
"Now I respect your privacy, Mr. Cruz, which is why I decline - at least in open session -- to name any particular federal facility where our nation's most dangerous felons are housed. Still, I have to point out that there are occasions, and this may be one of them, when an individual senator's privacy rights must yield to the greater public good.
"But again, Mr. Cruz, to this point in the proceedings we have received absolutely no information from you, or from your attorneys, that sheds any light on these matters. That's very troubling, at least from where I sit, and I know I'm not alone.
"Meanwhile, Mr. Cruz, this committee continues to be denied a direct 'Yes' or 'No' answer to the question of whether you recently stopped beating your wife. It's a perfectly simple question, Mr. Cruz, and answering it - answering it honestly, at any rate -- would go a long way toward removing perfectly understandable concerns on the part of committee members, and indeed, on the part of the American people as a whole.
"But as long as that answer is not forthcoming - as long as it remains, I would suggest, shrouded in mystery -- I don't see what option we have left to us, Mr. Cruz, other than to draw the obvious negative inference..."
And so on. Etcetera. For as long as it takes - 21 hours, or even longer.
The key is that whole polite thing. You want to treat Ted Cruz with the same respect he'd show you.
# # #
Rick Horowitz is a writer and TV commentator living in Wisconsin.