"The GOP's Nasty Newcomer" is how a Times headline characterizes Sen. Ted Cruz on the basis of his performance since January: voting against John Kerry's confirmation as secretary of state, questioning Chuck Hagel's to head the defense department, voting against raising the debt ceiling, opposing renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, saying no to the barrel of congressional pork wherein aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy was encased.
Wow! You just don't do stuff like that. Or anyway that's Times columnist Frank Bruni's contention. "(A)n ornery, swaggering piece of work," Bruni calls Sen. Cruz, throwing in for effect the verdict that "Courtesy isn't Cruz's m?tier. Grandstanding and browbeating are."
It's only going to get worse, I earnestly hope.
The outrage our senator (I am a constituent) generates throughout liberal/left wing America he may wear if he likes as a political Good Housekeeping seal. "I made promises to the people of Texas," Cruz told the Times by email, "that I would come to Washington to shake up the status quo." The status quo appears at least moderately shaken. California Senator Barbara Boxer likens Cruz to Joe McCarthy himself. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Cruz's predecessor, never came in for such a verbal pounding. Alas.
There are two points to make concerning Cruz's gift for outraging the left.
First, the Harvard and Princeton educated ex-solicitor general of Texas lives in a place -- Washington, D.C. -- not distinguished for, shall we say, reserve in expression. Or in veracity. The incumbent president, who shall be nameless, specializes in the rhetorical game of setting up straw men as targets of his manufactured indignation.
He likes to attack conservatives for seeking to tear down Medicare and Social Security, institutions sure to fail without some urgent attention from the party in control of Washington, the Democrats, as well as from the party not in control, the Republicans. In the inaugural last month, the president attacked the looming budgetary sequestration - the "sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts" sure to "jeopardize our military readiness" and "devastate priorities like education and energy and medical research."
Huh? Wouldn't that be the same sequestration this same president signed into law less than two years ago? Sure is. Somebody must have put one of those famous AK-15s to the presidential temple, forcing him to do the thing he's horrified now to think about.
Second point in regard to Ted Cruz: Human capacity to take aboard nonsense and distortion from self-appointed moral leaders has limits. It happens in families and in the workplace. Enough gets to be more than enough. We seek in response the services of those willing, as many still say in Texas, to tell how the cow ate the cabbage, to call a spade a rusty shovel with a rotten handle. Ted Cruz provides -- at the sacrifice of his previously non-existent popularity on the political left 00 precisely that service. In the argot of the '60s, he tells it like it is, baby.
A Democratic president venerated by liberals, Harry S. Truman, practically put his trademark on the Cruz modus operandi. Explaining his proclivity to "give 'em hell" meaning, of course, the Republicans, Truman said, "I tell the truth, and they think it's hell."
The New York Times has every right -- perhaps every duty -- to withhold its editorial endorsement from Ted Cruz of Texas, to wish blisters might emerge on his tongue, and his feet fail whenever he rises to speak. Trying to read him out of the ranks of civilized Americans is a losing proposition. For one thing, he's bound to love it. For another, by my own estimate, Ted Cruz wants more keenly to help arrest his country's drift toward collectivism and dystopia than he does to win the Nobel Peace Prize or the presidency. It makes him an odd foe, wouldn't you say, for such a president as the current one to have to fend off.
William Murchison, author and commentator, writes from Dallas. To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.Creators.com.
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