Senator Ted Cruz: Future Majority Leader?
Canadian-born Ted Cruz, freshman Republican senator from Texas, can never be president of the United States. On the other hand, he can be Senate Majority Leader.
Senator Cruz seems to be taking the opposite path to Republican congressional leadership than has his fellow Hispanic, fellow Reaganite, and fellow Tea Party hero, Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL. The latter senator sat on the back benches in the Senate chamber for most of his first two years in the Senate beginning on January 2011 until stepping into the spotlight. And what a spotlight that has been, including giving the response last week to the president’s state of the union speech.
Senator Cruz began his Senate career last month by exploding out of the gate to use a metaphor. He was elected in the Republican primary and in the general election by very wide margins. He beat the Republican establishment’s candidate, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, in the Republican primary run-off election by 57 to 43%. He walloped his Democrat opponent by a margin of 56 to 41% last November. Those Texas voters sent Senator Cruz to Washington D.C. to challenge the established order and discredit the Senate’s Old Guard, both Democrats and Republicans. Indeed, that is exactly what Senator Cruz is doing.
The backlash to both of these Hispanic conservative heroes has been immediate and severe, especially from Democrat politicians -- and from their left-wing allies in the news media -- who recognize the threat both of these young senators are to their left-wing causes. Depending on how well Senator Rubio navigates the shark-infested waters of immigration reform, he undoubtedly will be the leading presidential candidate going into the 2016 Republican primaries. However, Senator Rubio should be worried about his role in immigration reform, because if he does not know when to walk away from a bad deal, his realistic presidential hopes will be over.
On the other hand, foreign-born Senator Ted Cruz has no worries about presidential politics and his fast start out of the gate partly has been a result of his not having to be concerned about ruffling the feathers of leaders in both parties, including the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who appointed Senator Cruz vice-chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Some Tea Party leaders accused McConnell of trying to silence and co-opt Senator Cruz right from the beginning. But, if that was the Senate Republican leader’s intention, it is not working.
Some establishment Republican senators complained about freshman Senator Cruz -- who has a degree from Princeton and a Harvard law degree -- dominating the Senate confirmation hearings of Barack Obama’s Secretary of Defense nominee, Chuck Hagel, by asking tough and necessary questions of the nominee. Senator Cruz had the audacity to ask the anti-Israel and pro-Iran nominee if he had been compensated by foreign interests who were enemies to the United States for making speeches favoring their causes, or words to that effect. Even the Republican establishment in the Senate went nuts over this question; but the Tea Party and conservatives loved it.
Supposedly, Senator Cruz is trampling on Senate etiquette, something Senator Rubio did not do during his first two years. Senator Cruz told David Brody of CBN News yesterday that he thought that Barack Obama “is the most radical president we’ve ever seen.” Is there really any argument about this statement especially when you have senators from conservative states -- like Montana’s senator, Max Baucus, up for reelection next year -- running away as quickly as they can from Obama and his radical left-wing policies?
However, in the same statement on CBN News, Senator Cruz also went after the Republican establishment by saying that Republicans who do not stick to conservative principles are also to blame for the nation’s problems. Reuters reported that while visiting a gun manufacturer -- horrors! -- yesterday in Texas, Senator Cruz said, “Washington has a long tradition of trying to hurl insults to silence those who they don’t like what they’re saying. I have to admit I find it amusing that those in Washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do.”
Earlier this month, while being interviewed by former Fox News Channel talk show host Glenn Beck -- organizer (with Sarah Palin) of the massive 2010 Tea Party rally on the Washington Mall with over a half million participants and which led to the Republican take-over of the House of Representatives later that year -- and responding to a question about all the criticism coming at him from the Democrats and their establishment Republican allies, Senator Cruz said: “I view all of that as a sign that maybe we’re doing something right.” Indeed, if Senator Ted Cruz keeps this up, he will be Senate Majority Leader.