Ted Cruz, the new senator from Texas, is worth keeping an eye on.
You will see why if you take a look at the clip below, from yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee vote on Chuck Hagel's nomination as secretary of defense. Scroll past the one-hour mark (though just before that you can hear an interesting presentation by Joe Manchin of West Virginia) and start listening to Cruz at time 01:02:00 for about two minutes.
If you want, you can check the contemptuous response of the committee's chairman, Carl Levin, to Cruz's line of questioning, starting at about time 01:13:30. Or that of Bill Nelson, about three minutes later.
Now, please listen to the first minute or so of the clip below. This is a loaded comparison, but I have a reason for making it.
Ted Cruz can't help it that his voice, his intonation, his posture at the microphone, and his overall style of speaking are so strongly reminiscent of Joe McCarthy's, who died long before Cruz was born.
He can help it that his insinuations, without any evidence, that Chuck Hagel could be taking money -- from North Korea (!), from Saudi Arabia or Iran -- so clearly follow the McCarthyite model. (Recall that Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, Robert Gates, Zbigniew Brzezinski, George Schultz, Madeleine Albright, Anthony Zinni, John Warner, Sam Nunn, etc., have considered Hagel "loyal" enough by their standards.) This is a man to watch.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the new book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which has been a New York Times best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.