He has only been a Senator for a few months, but Texan Ted Cruz has made a reputation for himself. According to The Atlantic Wire, Cruz has done what few are able to accomplish in Congress these days. He has formed a bipartisan consensus. Cruz is seen by Democrats and Republicans alike as a jerk.
“Behind closed doors, some Republican senators report that Cruz, in his stone-cold serious prosecutorial style, speaks at length when it’s far more common for freshmen to wait before asserting themselves — particularly ones who were just sworn in,” Politico’s Manu Raju reports. An unnamed Republican senator told The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus that Cruz was “Jim DeMint without the charm.” Marcus says Cruz’s relationship with fellow Texas Sen. John Cornyn is “frosty.” And his performance in recent hearings appears to have annoyed many. Cruz was rebuked by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Bill Nelson for questioning Chuck Hagel’s patriotism in hearings on his Secretary of Defense nomination. Democrat Claire McCaskill told Politico, “He was engaging in innuendo, and it was terribly unfair.” (Cruz says he wasn’t impugning Hagel’s character.) He defied Armed Services Committee chair Carl Levin, who told Cruz not to play audio of a call-in show during Hagel’s hearing. Levin also noted Cruz was trying change committee rules by demanding five years of financial disclosures from Hagel, instead of the customary two. He annoyed Democrat Chuck Schumer on a Sunday talk show by being extra aggressive.
More recently, Cruz ridiculed fellow Senator Diane Feinstein’s efforts for gun control. Feinstein dismissed Cruz’ comments as she claimed that she was not a “sixth grader.” Feinstein also has a personal experience in gun violence. She was at the scene in 1978 when San Francisco Supervisor Dan White shot Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Dismissing Feinstein’s horrific experience only contributes to Cruz’ reputation as a jerk.
There are some advantages to being labeled a jerk. It has brought attention and support to the Tea Party-backed Cruz. There is even talk of Cruz running for president. However, Cruz has a hurdle to jump before attempting that, and it isn’t just his abrasive personality or extreme views that are the obstacles.
Cruz has a birther controversy of his own. His mother was an American citizen, but his father was Cuban. Cruz was born in Canada. That is a very similar situation to Barack Obama, except Obama was born in Hawaii. Most legal scholars would consider Cruz eligible. George Romney was born in Mexico to American parents and John McCain in Panama to American parents as well. Both were accepted as constitutional candidates. Neither of them riled up the birthers very much. Perhaps Cruz’ birthplace will not be a problem either because he’s not black, his name doesn’t conjure images of Muslims and his politics align with many birthers. Democrats would probably love to see Cruz in the Republican presidential race, too. His lack of charm isn’t going to help in expanding the narrowing Republican base.