Why Everyone (in Congress) Hates Ted Cruz

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz at Values Voter Summit
Do you hate me, too? Photo: Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

Over the last year or two, certain Americans have delighted in screenwriter Craig Mazin’s candid recollections of his time as Texas senator Ted Cruz’s freshman-year roommate. According to Mazin, the current presidential candidate “endlessly hit the snooze button,” creeped out female peers by hanging around their hallway in a bathrobe, and “had SERIOUS body odor issues.” Other Princeton classmates haven’t been much kinder, calling Cruz  “abrasive,” “intense,” “strident,” “arrogant,” and a “crank.”

More than anyone I knew, Ted seemed to have arrived in college with a fully formed worldview. And what strikes me now, looking at him as an adult and hearing the things he’s saying, it seems like nothing has changed,” said another person who knew (and disliked) him back in college. Even the guy who has been identified as one of Cruz’s few friends at Princeton agreed with that assessment, though he seems to view it as a positive thing: “He’s not someone who shifts in the wind. The Ted Cruz that I knew at 17 years old is exactly the same as the Ted Cruz I know at 42 years old.” 

Cruz has tried to present his lack of likability as an attractive quality to voters — proof that he’ll stick to his promises, regardless of their popularity in Washington: “If you want someone to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy,” he said during the third GOP debate. “But if you want someone to drive you home, I will get the job done and I will get you home.”  

While Cruz’s “insufferable designated driver” persona might appeal to some of the American electorate, his Republican colleagues — the people who have to deal with him in the cold, sober light of day — can’t stand it. This became especially apparent in the last six months, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans have gone out of their way to thwart Cruz’s attempts to hold roll-call votes (generally not a hard thing to do) and shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding. And their reasons for hating Cruz aren’t so different from those of the folks who were on the Princeton campus between 1988 and 1992.

He puts what’s good for him ahead of what’s good for the GOP.
In 2013, at Cruz’s urging, House tea-partiers inserted a provision repealing the Affordable Care Act in the next year’s spending bill. This effort to kill Obamacare was doomed from the start — the majority-Democrat Senate, not to mention President Obama, wouldn’t approve it — but that didn’t stop Cruz from insisting the plan could work. While the resulting 16-day government shutdown was an image disaster for the GOP in general, it made Cruz look like a hero to tea-party voters. Lindsey Graham has said of Cruz: “He plays into the frustrations and passions of good people and creates narratives that don’t exist at the expense of others.”

He’s a grandstander.
You need not look further than Cruz’s all-night pre-shutdown filibuster (or fauxlibuster, as it was known at the time). Because of Senate rules, the filibuster had no hope of stopping, or even delaying, the vote, so Cruz basically stood up there for 21 hours in order to get attention, hear himself talk, and share the magic of Green Eggs and Ham.

He attacks fellow Republicans.
Among Cruz’s other activities in 2013:
raising millions of dollars for former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund. From the Daily Beast:

The SCF used that Cruz-Lee money to run ads against seven GOP senators they were serving with, including Mitch McConnell, Jeff Flake, and Lindsey Graham. The ads attacked those veteran Republicans for not opposing Obamacare enough, even though they all voted against the bill and said they would vote to defund it.

This summer, Cruz published the book A Time for Truth, in which he claims that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul repeatedly misled and betrayed him. (Unsurprisingly, McConnell, Paul, and many of their colleagues have very different recollections of the incidents cited in the book.) A Time for Truth also includes descriptions of Republican meetings that participants likely assumed would not be made public. “No one is going to want to talk up something on a personal issue or a contentious issue if they think they are going to read about it the next day in the paper or it’s going to be released in the press,” said Senator Dan Coats of Cruz’s writing. “It really undermines any sense of team or any sense of cooperation.”

Most recently, Cruz called the Republican leadership “the most effective Democrat leaders we’ve ever seen.” “They’ve passed more Democratic priorities than Harry Reid ever could,” he said.

He’s rude.
In July, Cruz called McConnell a liar for allowing a vote on the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. “I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie,” said Cruz, who
claimed that McConnell had told him that there wouldn’t be a vote. That jab was apparently too rude for Cruz’s colleagues in the Senate, which actually has a rule (it’s No. 19) against using “any form of words” to “impute to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.”

From CNN:

I think it was outside the realm of Senate behavior,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who has clashed with Cruz in the past. “I would never contemplate going to the floor of the Senate and impugning the integrity of another senator. Just not something we do here. I really think it was a very wrong thing to do.”

“Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated in other venues — or perhaps on the campaign trail — but they have no place among colleagues in the United States Senate,” warned Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah in a lengthy floor speech reprimanding Cruz.

I think it was a violation of the rules. It’s not how you treat a colleague regardless of how you feel,” added North Carolina’s Thom Tillis.

In other rude Cruz behavior: The New York Times reports, “Last year, during a lengthy budget vote, he forced his colleagues to vote on an unrelated but politically helpful abortion measure at 2:30 a.m., prompting an audible groan from exhausted colleagues in both parties.”

They might be stuck with him.
Many of Donald Trump’s supporters would probably go with Cruz if and/or when their guy finally flames out, which could very well result in Cruz winning the Republican nomination, despite the widespread dislike for him in the party.

Why Everyone (in Congress) Hates Ted Cruz