The October issue of GQ magazine hits the newsstands next Tuesday, and when it does, our own least-favorite Senator Ted Cruz will be featured front and center. The profile of Cruz paints a picture of a man who is his own biggest fan, probably because everyone he's worked with can't stand him.
After reading the profile, several things become abundantly clear. Cruz is not a very pleasant man to be around. Author Jason Zengerle writes that Cruz “wears [his resume]…like a sandwich board,” taking every opportunity to exalt his own accomplishments. Most of his Republican colleagues don't like him much, especially Republican Senate leadership. The “wacko bird” moniker came from Senator John McCain, who used it to express his immense dislike for Cruz and fellow Tea Partier Rand Paul.
Cruz has worn the insult as badge of honor, embroidering the words “wacko bird” onto a baseball cap with Daffy Duck. He's used the insult to endear himself to the Tea Party, because there's nothing Tea Partiers love more than a person who's proud that everyone thinks he's crazy.
In the profile,it seems that Cruz is unable to do anything that doesn't reek of arrogance. Zengerle writes that Cruz keeps a life-size oil painting of himself in his office to keep him humble (because humble people just love to stare at paintings of themselves):
What kept drawing my eye was a giant oil painting above the couch depicting Cruz as he delivered the first of his nine oral arguments before the Supreme Court. “I was 32 years old,” he recalled. “It was abundantly clear we didn't have a prayer…. And I've always enjoyed the fact that as I'm sitting at my desk, I'm looking at a giant painting of me getting my rear end whipped 9-0.” He gazed at the wall. It is an unusual painting: From the artist's vantage point, we see three other courtroom artists, each also drawing Cruz-so the painting actually features not one but four images of young Cruz before the bench. “It is helpful,” he explained to me, “for keeping one grounded.”
It wasn't becoming a senator that made Cruz arrogant. It seems as though he's always been that way. He wears his Princeton class ring everywhere he goes, and at Harvard Law School, Cruz managed to set himself apart as the snobbiest student in a sea of snobs. Zengerle writes:
As a law student at Harvard, he refused to study with anyone who hadn't been an undergrad at Harvard, Princeton, or Yale. Says Damon Watson, one of Cruz's law-school roommates: “He said he didn't want anybody from 'minor Ivies' like Penn or Brown.”
Cruz later worked on George W. Bush's 2000 campaign, which could have been his big break into national politics. But instead, he was denied a role in the Bush White House because he was simply too difficult to work with:
Cruz's personal style earned him many detractors in BushWorld. He was infamous for firing off mundane work e-mails in the middle of the night-it happened so often that some in the Bush campaign suspected him of writing them ahead of time and programming his computer to send while he was asleep. He was also known for dispatching regular updates on his accomplishments that one recipient likened to “the cards people send about their families at Christmas, except Ted's were only about him and were more frequent.” When it came time to divvy up the spoils of victory, many of Cruz's campaign colleagues headed to the White House; Cruz went to Washington, too-but he was exiled to the outer Siberia of the Federal Trade Commission.
Cruz has taken this same arrogant attitude to the Senate, where it's been similarly received by his colleagues. Not only does McCain think Cruz is a “wacko bird,” he “fucking hates him–he's just offended by his style,” said one aide. A Democratic aide said much the same thing about Cruz: “Every one of these guys thinks he's the smartest guy in the room. …But Cruz is utterly incapable of cloaking it in any kind of collegiality. He's just so brazen.” North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr called Cruz's effort to shut down the federal government to stop Obamacare “the dumbest idea I've ever heard.”
Even Cruz's supporters don't have words of praise for his time in the Senate. Says Zengerle: “In multiple conversations with people who know Cruz well, I kept hearing the same refrain: “He's smart enough to know better.”
Of course, Cruz may just not want to know better. He's apparently proud of his lack of accomplishments in the Senate:
So far Cruz has proposed no major legislation and has shown little interest in changing that. He seems content accomplishing nothing because, in Cruz's view of the federal government, nothing is the accomplishment.
Cruz's view completely misses the point of the Senate. (Though, to be fair if he can't understand Green Eggs and Ham, the basics of the legislative branch are probably way over his head.) We elect Senators to make laws that will serve the people's best interest. If Cruz thinks it's an accomplishment to do nothing while millions of Texans go without health insurance, he's not doing his job right.
Cruz's GQ profile highlights what we all already knew: Ted Cruz is more interested in himself than in serving the interests of Texans. He sees his time in the Senate as a stepping stone for his own ambitions, and seems to care very little about the effects his actions have on his constituents. Though we may be stuck with him for now, we should remember that Ted Cruz is one wacko bird who's wrong for Texas.