The Fluffiest Praise of Ted Cruz You're Likely to Encounter

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Jim DeMint's paean in Politico is unintentionally revealing. 

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On Senator Ted Cruz, who has spent mere weeks in office, I have yet to formulate any judgment, positive or negative. Time will tell.

It is nevertheless noteworthy that Jim DeMint, who is about to take the helm at the Heritage Foundation, has taken to the pages of Politico to lavish extravagant praise on the freshman legislator:

Imagine a new senator who ran a campaign of "no more business as usual." No more special interest politics, no more backroom deals -- and he won. He came to Washington, and he delivered. He didn't stay quiet, he spoke passionately for what he believed in, and he made it clear he planned to shake up the status quo. How would the media react to a senator like that? Nothing but praise for standing his ground, right? Surely editorials lauding his boldness, his vision, his courage would be his reward. He would be held up as an example for others.

Finally, a true leader who keeps his promises!
Demint proceeds to criticize the media for failing to laud Cruz's faithfulness, courage, boldness, and vision. Like I said, it's extravagant praise.

What has Cruz done these last few weeks to warrant it? What does the next head of movement conservatism's most influential think tank require to speak so highly of an elected official? DeMint eventually offers specifics, but not before more general praise:
Most politicians know what to say to get elected but then arrive in Washington with no real spine -- or in many cases, no intention of ever doing what they promised. Not Cruz. He's proved himself an effective advocate for the founding principles that made our nation great: personal freedom and responsibility, local control and adherence to the law as it is written, not the way some politicians wish it was written.
Finally, at the bottom of page one, we come to Cruz's accomplishments:
Cruz has been quick out of the blocks. For example, when it was time to question former Sen. Chuck Hagel during his confirmation hearing to be secretary of defense, Cruz didn't shrink from making pointed queries about the nominee's views on Israel and personal income Hagel has refused to disclose since leaving public service in January 2009.
That isn't how everyone would characterize Cruz's questions, but let's take DeMint's rhetoric on its own terms. For the sake of argument, credit Cruz for pointed queries on Israel and income disclosure. What else?

Cruz has even been willing to speak frankly about an issue that has many in his party running scared: immigration. When the "Gang of Eight" senators released their four principles to guide immigration reform, he praised them for vowing to better secure our "porous border" but questioned their proposed path to citizenship.

Okay. Anything else?
Cruz has also shown the courage to tackle other difficult issues that many have been content just to talk about. He has been pushing to end corporate welfare, expand workplace freedom and promote school choice. These bold policies frighten Washington special interests but give American working families reason for hope.
In conclusion?

If Cruz has ruffled feathers in Congress, that means he's doing his job. Voters want Washington to be shaken out of its complacency. The last thing we need is another status quo senator or a congressman who goes along to get along. That's how we got into the mess we're in in the first place. Cruz's honest and common-sense leadership should be commended, not criticized.

So to review, Cruz asked pointed questions of a nominee during a confirmation hearing; expressed a standard conservative position on immigration; and echoed the GOP position on three other issues.

What honor! What courage! What an "effective advocate" of our founding principles! What a "true leader"!

Is he kidding us?

What a load of premature hype. The leaders of movement conservatism are constantly doing this: They decide on a champion, be it George W. Bush or Rick Perry or Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, and extol their manifold virtues in the most absurdly exaggerated ways imaginable. Perhaps Cruz will successfully block a bad nominee, or sponsor a piece of landmark legislation, or maneuver his party to a key negotiating victory that makes a bill more conservative.

So far, he has accomplished nothing, save eliciting from DeMint the sort of fluff piece that suggests that his public output as president of the Heritage Foundation will lack intellectual heft.
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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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