Senator Bob Corker fought with Ted Cruz on the Senate on Thursday afternoon — at one point Corker called him "confused" — giving us an in-person confrontation to cap off months of increasingly angry criticism of Cruz from his fellow Republicans.
Cruz has pushed for Republicans to threaten to shutdown the government unless President Obama agrees to defund Obamacare, and then faux-filibustered the defunding bill in order to keep Democrats from adding funding back in. Many Republicans were critical of both of these things. With Cruz present on the Senate floor on Thursday, Corker criticized him, and questioned the real reason for his crusade.
"It's my understanding again, relative to this vote tonight happening tomorrow instead, is that my two colleagues, who I respect, have sent out e-mails around the world and turned this into a show possibly, and, therefore, they want people around the world to watch maybe them and others on the Senate floor...
I’m just asking the question, is it more important to the senator from Texas and the senator from Utah that the people around the country watch this vote, or is it more important that we have a good policy outcome from our standpoint?"
Corker mocked Cruz for his 21-hour filibuster, which he followed by voting to begin debating the thing he was trying to stop. He said the House was ready to vote on a government funding bill. In a body that prides itself on a tradition of collegiality and formality, this was a big deal, and it garnered a lot of attention on Twitter,
But in his short Senate career — he only took office nine months ago! — Cruz has not made a lot of friends. In fact, in recent weeks, many of colleagues and allies have gone on the record to denounce him. So have fellow Republicans in the House, and Republican strategists, and conservative editorial pages. An anonymous GOP aide summed up the party's take on him last week, telling The Huffington Post:
"Some people came here to govern and make things better for their constituents. Ted Cruz came here to throw bombs and fundraise off of attacks on fellow Republicans. He's a joke, plain and simple."
As far back as February the haters were laying it on thick behind closed doors. "[He's] Jim DeMint without the charm," one Republican senator told The Washington Post. Meanwhile, his relationship with fellow Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn is "frosty." This probably has something to do with the fact that he refused to endorse Cornyn's re-election bid.