Allow me to quote myself. While wrapping up Texas' 2012 Senate race a week after the election, I wrote:
I believe very strongly that Ted Cruz is about to get a national reputation for being a divisive, do-nothing, corporatist senator. Except Cruz will be more grating than most, since he's so damn smarmy. He's a bad candidate for a 2018 Texas much more friendly to Democrats.
Since the day of his inauguration, Ted Cruz has been gaining a foul national reputation for each of those qualities. He has voted against just about everything the Senate has voted for, leading him to his abysmal 1-13 voting record (including votes against confirmed John Kerry for Secretary of State and against the Violence Against Women Act). Cruz is fighting against the bipartisan immigration deal, brought a pistol grip to the floor of the Senate to make a ridiculous argument against gun control, and claimed that the gun show loophole doesn't exist.
News outlets around the country are runningstories about Cruz's obstinance. And that story is just getting revved up. On Tuesday of this week, Cruz took his reputation to its lowest point yet, drawing the criticism of his own party.
While Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Cruz, with zero evidence, suggested that Hagel took money from "radical and extreme groups" to whom he gave speeches about foreign policy. In the same hearing, Cruz also distorted history to accuse Hagel of calling Israel's actions a "sick slaughter," and further suggested that Hagel is allied with Islamist enemies to Israel.
Chuck Hagel is a veteran and the recipient of two Purple Hearts. Ted Cruz's claims are insane partisan trash, even for partisan trash. And they were also the tipping point; Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida called Cruz out for them. He said:
I want to put on the record that this Senator feels like that Senator Cruz has gone over the line. He basically has impugned the patriotism of the nominee - in your conclusions, which you are entitled to come to, about him, in essence, being cozy with Iran...[This is] taking it too far.
Republican Sen. John McCain then further criticized Cruz, declaring: "No one on this committee at any time should impugn [Hagel's] character or his integrity." Even Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who's in the midst of anti-Obama chest-thumping ahead of a 2014 primary, said that many of Cruz's accusations and demands were "out of bounds, quite frankly." One Republican senator told Politico anonymously that Republican senators are getting "annoyed" by Cruz's tactics.
Make no mistake: Ted Cruz will almost certainly run for president one day. And like Michele Bachmann, known for her insane conspiracy theories, endless obstructionism, and undying love for the Tea Party, he won't get out of a primary. Like Bachmann, he has no appeal to the vast majority of Americans who want to get something done in Washington. Like Bachmann, he is supremely unlikable. Like Bachmann, Cruz has now been criticized by Sen. McCain and fellow Republicans for specious attacks against fellow Americans that serve no positive purpose.
And while he sounds smarter than Bachmann (unless you listen to the words he's saying), Ted Cruz is stupid in major ways. Six weeks into his term, Cruz is earning the ire of his own party and building a national reputation as a complete obstructionist willing to use baseless accusations and conspiracy theories to justify his actions. Remember, Ted Cruz thinks the U.N. is implementing an initiative called Agenda 21 to force us to live in hobbit homes. If Ted Cruz were smart, he wouldn't be so crazy and divisive when representing a state steadily coming over to the Democrats - or harboring hopes of getting elected president.