I know, I know -- that’s that not quite what he said. But he might as well have, right?
Appearing on CNN Tuesday night to discuss issues of substance, anchor Erin Burnett instead asked the Texas senator about the ongoing GOP “civil war.” That is to say, what he thought about establishment Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) ongoing and pointed attacks against him since the partial government shutdown last year; an event, by the way, that King and congressional lawmakers from both political parties continue to blame him for.
Sen. Cruz brushed off the question, and acted as if ... he didn't know who Rep. King was. I must say it was a perfect and somewhat surprising response:
“I don’t know Mr. King…to be honest I don’t think I’d ever heard of him until he started getting on television attacking me. He’s welcome to express his opinions, and he’s entitled to them.”
Nothing will offend or infuriate your critics more than reminding them of their own irrelevance. That's what happened here. Still, in typical fashion, Cruz took the high road and didn’t retaliate. Thus, say what you will about Cruz -- and blame him for the government shutdown if you must -- but in my own experience I’ve never heard him once respond to his critics with ad hominem or personal attacks. Like him or despise him, he debates on the issues -- unlike King and his allies who seem to take pleasure in bashing Tea Partiers.
Speaking of Mr. King, here’s what he had to say in response:
Later on Wednesday, King said that Cruz’s comments showed why he has few friends in Congress with comments about him, which he said demonstrated his “smug arrogance.”
“This is what happens when guys like Ted Cruz make themselves the center of their own universe,” King told POLITICO in a phone interview. “They have no idea what’s going on around them.”
He added that he takes some pity on Cruz, painting him as living in “his own little bubble” without many allies in Congress.
“Actually, I feel sorry for him,” he said. “Maybe, if he had a taken the time to listen to me over the years, maybe he’d be a little smarter than he is and be a little less ignorant and maybe he’d have a few more friends. He likes to live in his own little bubble. In all seriousness, what I’ve heard about Cruz is that he knows himself and nobody else, basically.”
With all due respect, congressman, I don’t think Ted Cruz gives a damn about making friends in Washington. Or taking advice from you. That's not why he's there.