Political Animal


February 20, 2013 9:43 AM Ahead of His Time

By Ed Kilgore

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) can barely contain his glee at being criticized for being a jerk, as reflected in this Reuters report from Corrie MacLaggan.

First-term Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on Tuesday staunchly defended his aggressive, in-your-face style that already is raising eyebrows in Washington and has led a Senate Democrat to suggest his tactics reminded her of McCarthyism.
“Washington has a long tradition of trying to hurl insults to silence those who they don’t like what they’re saying,” Cruz told reporters on a visit to a Texas gun manufacturer. “I have to admit I find it amusing that those in Washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do.”
Employees at LaRue Tactical near Austin cheered the senator enthusiastically during his appearance.
Cruz, 42, raised eyebrows in Washington by aggressively criticizing former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, during a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.
Cruz angered lawmakers in both parties by suggesting, without giving evidence, that Hagel might have taken money from countries such as communist North Korea.

Charges that Cruz was being a lying bully were, of course, all mixed up with claims that he wasn’t being a good do-be freshman Senator who waits his turn and kisses up to those with more seniority. You get the impression his colleagues think he should have to earn the right to behave like Joe McCarthy.

But in any event, how much would Cruz pay to get that kind of reputation outside the Senate itself? Congress’ job approval rating is stuck in the mid-teens. He’s a member of a party that has raised hysterical unfounded attacks on the opposition into a virtually obligatory exercise (one of his critics, Lindsey Graham, was as unhinged in dealing with Hagel as Cruz himself), and part of an intra-party faction that thinks the GOP has been repeatedly betrayed by the civility (sic!) of its elected representatives. There is virtually no down-side to his current behavior.

Come to think of it, Joe McCarthy may have simply been many years ahead of his time.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on February 20, 2013 9:57 AM:

    "Tailgunner" Joe had his bogus list - but was smart enough not to show it to anyone.

    Nixon had his "Enemies List," but that got leaked. That list looked like the list made by a lonely and unliked teenage boy, writing out his grudge-list of anyone who had ever wronged him.

    And now, Cruz, accusing Hagel with BS. He may as well accused Chuck Hagel of liking Hummus, and that he didn't support the Tabouli-ban.

    Over 60 years of ratfecking, and no end in sight.

  • howard on February 20, 2013 10:00 AM:

    I wonder what examples cruz can provide of how being a smug jerk led to political success.

  • martin on February 20, 2013 10:00 AM:

    Well, if Cruz wants to end up like McCarthy, let him.

    In the meantime, has anyone bothered to ask, "And what did you accomplish?"

    dedbaean prostration suggests Captcha

  • jim braddick on February 20, 2013 10:22 AM:

    Cruz will continue his scorched earth tactics for as long as he's Senator. He's led the charge against Hagel and will point to its near success as an accomplishment. The question is will he last for six years or will he bow out like DeMint because his opportunities are limited in the Senate. He is out to cause maximum damage to Democrat/liberal/progressive causes and will do whatever and go wherever helps that effort. He should not be underestimated.

  • c u n d gulag on February 20, 2013 10:28 AM:

    jim braddick,
    Conservative today take the lazy way out - instead of looking to build and fix things, they look to tear-apart and destroy them.

    It's so much easier to tear things apart, than it is to construct them.

  • golack on February 20, 2013 10:34 AM:

    So where do those guns go??? What percentage end up in the hands of criminals, gangs, drug lords, international black market? More importantly, what would happen to prices on the secondary market if illegitimate sells were eliminated?

  • boatboy_srq on February 20, 2013 10:46 AM:

    I have to admit I find it amusing that those in Washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do.

    IIRC, just a couple of years ago Governor Voldemort was quoted as saying something remarkably similar. Seems to me the Teahad is going to run out of steam very quickly once voters figure out that all the wingnutty things the GOTea promises are actually about to be carried out.

  • Kathryn on February 20, 2013 10:57 AM:

    Read about Cruz in Mother Jones article. It's straight forward, he was schooled from the the age of thirteen by American Enterprise types, called his Harvard Law professors Communist, a true believer. It's taken me way too long to realize that the Ted Cruzes of this world lie to win because they are so convinced they are right that the end justifies the means totally. If he has to lie to the chumps to keep them in line, so be it. Ted Cruz, Fox News, Limbaugh, Drudge and on and on, no different than Air Rwanda getting the Hutus to take after the other tribe with machetes.

  • boatboy_srq on February 20, 2013 11:16 AM:

    @Kathryn: we are all Tutsis now.

  • Bokonon on February 20, 2013 11:21 AM:

    And there you have the problem. Inside the GOP's closed system, there is no accountability for vicious (or unhinged behavior) right now. Just rewards.

  • David on February 20, 2013 5:16 PM:

    "Joe McCarthy may have simply been many years ahead of his time."
    Ed, this is some fine snark.