Ted Cruz is a little stick of dynamite. Everybody is talking about him, as the man who: thinks he’s God, engineered the government shutdown, will save the United States from itself, and/or could be the president in January 2017.
Well, what’s there to say about him? Let’s start with a brief biographical sketch: Cruz was born in the last days of 1970 to a Cuban father and an American mother on Canadian soil. He’s lived in the United States since he was three, but had U.S. citizenship all along, which may prove to be important.
Cruz is rumored to have the legal mind of our time. Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law professor and staunch liberal, described Cruz as “off-the-charts brilliant.” The 42-year-old Senator has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court. When Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson retired, Cruz came out of nowhere to claim her seat. He took office in January 2013.
Ted Cruz doesn’t get much favorable publicity, but in politics, any publicity is good publicity. He’s even been credited with masterminding the government shutdown, temporarily resolved Thursday.
Recently, he made a 21-hour-and-19-minute speech on the Senate floor, which was not received well, particularly by the Democrats.
I scratch my head at this. All politicians love to hear themselves talk. Can’t you see them standing around at a Senate bonfire, swapping stories? “You love the sound of your own voice? I love to hear myself talk!” Why ostracize him for it?
The left points to Cruz as Exhibit A in Rightwing Lunacy.
Hillary Clinton alluded to him while campaigning for Terry McAuliffe in Virginia: “When politicians choose scorched earth over common ground, when they operate in what I call the ‘evidence-free zone,’ with ideology trumping everything else, we’ve seen that families in Virginia and across the country have felt the consequences.”
“He is a laughing stock to everybody but him,” Harry Reid proclaimed. “If this man can get the nomination to be the Republican nominee for president, I pity the Republican Party.”
Here’s another fun quote from Reid: “Ted Cruz is smart. He has always been able to talk down to people. He is now in the Senate. People are as smart as he is. He can’t talk down to anyone anymore.” It was okay to talk down to everyone until he joined the Senate, where everyone belongs to Mensa!
The right is being forced to choose between two possibilities: end their careers by standing with Cruz, or end their careers by shunning him.
Resentful Republicans sniffed. “There will not be another government shutdown,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “You can count on that.”
“I’m not in the shut-down-the-government crowd,” said Senator Lamar Alexander.
John McCain, who occasionally takes time away from talk shows to visit the Senate, added, “We can’t do this to the American people.”
Why should Republicans bash Cruz? The freshman senator is a sparkler, and the Republicans are short on sparkle. Maybe he embarrassed them, but there’s also something deeply ingrained in Republican DNA that is repulsed by great publicity.
In the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza offered a possible reason for the antipathy toward Cruz: “Newly elected senators… don’t make speeches on the floor of the Senate for months and sometimes even years. They do everything they can to ingratiate themselves to their more senior colleagues, praising fill-in-the-blank-senator for his/her wealth of knowledge about fill-in-the-blank topic.” Translation: Cruz got a little too big for his pants. He hasn’t earned it.
An insult that is actually testament to Cruz’s power comes in the form of the BusinessWeek cover.
How about Cruz’s rock star response to the uproar: “I’m not serving in office because I desperately needed 99 new friends in the U.S. Senate.”
The jury is still out on Senator Cruz, but he’s got three big points in his favor:
- The Democrats hate him
- The Republicans hate him
- The media hates him