Feature

Ted Cruz: The Senate’s new rabble-rouser

While most Senate freshmen spend their first term quietly learning the ropes, “the newly arrived Texas Republican has come out, well, guns blazing.”

“Ted Cruz is not going to win Senator Congeniality,” said Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post. While most Senate freshmen spend their first term quietly learning the ropes and deferring to senior colleagues, “the newly arrived Texas Republican has come out, well, guns blazing.” In just six weeks, the Tea Party hero has voted against confirming Sen. John Kerry as secretary of state, condemned a bipartisan immigration reform package, and attempted to block billions of dollars of aid for Hurricane Sandy victims. Even fellow Republicans grumble that the former Princeton debating champion lectures them and “pontificates” at private party sessions. In Cruz, we may be seeing “the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy,” said Rick Ungar in Forbes.com. At a Senate hearing last week, Cruz demanded that President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, prove he hadn’t received payments from America’s enemies, including North Korea. Cruz had no evidence to support his McCarthy-like “smear,” but that didn’t stop him from publicly suggesting that a decorated veteran is a traitor.

Cruz may be a bull in Washington’s china shop, said Jonathan Tobin in CommentaryMagazine.com, but that’s exactly what the Senate needs. He’s a serious policymaker who isn’t interested in the usual “Kabuki dance of Capitol Hill manners.” He opposed the pork-filled Sandy bill because he objects to the Senate’s “go-along-to-get-along game that greases the wheels of the country’s big government spending addiction.” And there’s nothing wrong with asking for detailed records of Hagel’s past speaking engagements and finances. When he ran, Cruz vowed to fight for conservative values, said Andrew Stiles in NationalReview.com, and he’s making good on that promise. The fact that the mainstream media hates him is “one of the surest signs that Cruz is doing something right.”

But is another reckless bomb-thrower really what the Republican Party needs? said Frank Bruni in The New York Times. After their 2012 election drubbing, many Republicans began to realize  that the party needs to be seen “as a constructive force, as a party that’s for things”—not as a party that embodies resentment, knee-jerk opposition, and mean-spirited insults. Cruz’s vitriol and right-wing extremism—he just voted against the Violence Against Women Act—are already undermining those rebranding efforts. “He brings himself plenty of attention. He’ll bring Republicans nothing but grief.”

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