The Washington Post offered a splashy profile of freshman Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday, and the most surprising thing about it was a lack of venom. The reporter described "the self-assured, nonstop talker who won national debate championships as an undergraduate at Princeton."
Cruz "honed his reputation early in his career as a dazzling Supreme Court advocate" and now "has bashed into the national conversation," most notably in attacking establishment Republicans, who've called him and other young Senate conservatives "wacko birds."
This story, however, wasn't as surprising as James Carville's declaration on ABC's "This Week." He was typically blunt -- but in a wholly unexpected direction. "I think he is the most talented and fearless Republican politician I've seen in the last 30 years."
Carville accurately described the conservative view: "'If we only got someone who was articulate and was for what we were for, we would win elections. And we get these John McCains and these Mitt Romneys and these squishy guys that can't do anything.'" Carville added: "Well, there's one thing this guy is not -- he ain't squishy, not in the least."
The more typical take from the Left came from the same program, when former Gov. Bill Richardson insisted that the words Hispanic and conservatives cannot go together in the same sentence: "He's anti-immigration. Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform.
"I don't think he should be defined as a Hispanic. He's a politician from Texas. A conservative state." In the Richardson calculus, "pro-immigration" Marco Rubio is a Hispanic, while "anti-immigration" Ted Cruz is a politician from Texas.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is so tired of Cruz and his objections already that he has denounced him to his face as a "schoolyard bully." (To which Cruz shot back: "I wasn't aware we were in a schoolyard.")
Few people try to paint Ted Cruz as a lightweight -- except the lightweights. Haters at the Daily Kos blog have risibly jeered he couldn't be considered as qualified to be "pool boy." Chris Matthews bashed Cruz as "another one of these well-educated right wingers like Pat Robertson. It's like they flush out their high educations when they get out of school for political purposes."
David Letterman recently named Cruz as a "Stooge of the Night" for failing to vote Letterman's way on gun control. But the segment was so listless and unfunny it almost made you miss that other gray-haired liberal guy with the glasses -- remember that guy? -- who did that "Worst Person in the World" segment.