A new GQ profile of the humblebraggy junior senator from Texas reveals that his newfound unpopularity in the D.C. firmament is not actually all that new. This moment, in which Cruz is single-handedly steering Congress to a shutdown, is a crystallization of his career: burn any bridges even before you cross them — if it helps advance the conservative cause. Oh, and the Cruz cause, but you knew that.
Here are some of the people whom Cruz has infuriated over the years, according to GQ's Jason Zengerle:
One of Cruz's first moves when he got to the Senate was — from the very end of the dais, reserved for the senator with the least seniority — to lambaste Chuck Hagel during consideration of Hagel's appointment to lead the Department of Defense. When he joined Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster of CIA nominee John Brennan, McCain was furious.
John McCain, already seething over Cruz's treatment of Hagel, called them "wacko birds." "He fucking hates Cruz," one adviser of the Arizona senator told me. "He's just offended by his style."
Cruz's indirect response? "I don't know a conservative who didn't feel embarrassed voting in 2006 or 2008," he tells GQ.
George W. Bush
One of Cruz's first forays into national politics was working with the George W. Bush legal team during the 2000 election. He hoped, it seems, to land a good position within the administration. He didn't, ending up at the FTC, apparently because no one in "Bushworld" liked him. "He was infamous for firing off mundane work e-mails in the middle of the night — it happened so often that some in the Bush campaign suspected him of writing them ahead of time and programming his computer to send while he was asleep," Zengerle writes. He also sent out Christmas newsletter-style updates on his accomplishments, except more frequently.
When the Senate was considering new gun legislation this spring, Cruz angered Feinstein by explaining to the California senator the contents of the Bill of Rights. (Feinstein first held elected office the year Cruz was born.) She angrily responded by reminding Cruz that she was not a sixth grader.
His colleagues' unhappiness with Cruz didn't begin with his current crusade demanding that they support a doomed effort to defund Obamacare. Instead, it may have begun in the aftermath of that failed gun control push. Cruz claimed that it was his (and Paul's) obstinance that doomed the measure. Senate Republicans believed post-Newtown gun control measures would fail thanks to red-sate Democrats. Cruz's comments were ruining that:
Cruz's blustering, these Republicans argued, was actually counterproductive, since it risked shifting the blame for the defeat of a broadly popular bill away from those Democrats and onto obstructionist Republicans.
Combined, the list above comprises maybe 100 Republican primary voters, of course, so their critiques probably don't mean a lot to the ambitious Cruz, who now has the media (ourselves included) to convey his accomplishments instead of Christmas-letter emails.
Some (or one) of those congressional colleagues are doing their best to step on Cruz's media-friendly outreach. On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace revealed that he'd received information critical of Cruz from "top Republicans" prior to an interview he conducted. (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell denies involvement.)
Being held in contempt by the establishment will only help Cruz in the circles to whom he's trying to appeal, of course. GQ quotes Cruz: "I cannot tell you how many little old ladies clasped my shoulder and said, 'Ted, please don't go to Washington and become one of them.'" The distaste of others a point of pride for Cruz, whose micropopulist appeals contrast sharply with his unabashed pleasure with his own accomplishments. In law school, one former roommate reports, Cruz "didn't want [to study with] anybody from 'minor Ivies' like Penn or Brown." That excludes your average Tea Party member.
But his bid is working — so well that former Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin is trying to ensure she hitches herself to his star. "Bombs Away on Obamacare," reads her latest piece at Breitbart.
Welcome to our world, Ted. The same people have been denouncing conservatives like me for years (right after they ask for help fundraising for themselves or endorsing the latest candidate they’ve suckered into paying their exorbitant consulting fees). We can compare shiv marks next time we meet, my friend.
When even Sarah Palin is an eager follower, Ted Cruz must be making enemies with all the right people to ensure his conservative cred.