Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, has only been a U.S. Senator for 43 days, but he's already accomplished the amazing feat of uniting both sides of the aisle. Less than six weeks into his term, a remarkable number of both Republicans and Democrats have come forward to say that they think Cruz is kind of a jerk. In a steady stream of reports from his new colleagues, Cruz's rudeness comes in both public and private, and it's not just the words he uses but also how many of them he uses.
"Behind closed doors, some Republican senators report that Cruz, in his stone-cold serious prosecutorial style, speaks at length when it’s far more common for freshmen to wait before asserting themselves — particularly ones who were just sworn in," Politico's Manu Raju reports. An unnamed Republican senator told The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus that Cruz was "Jim DeMint without the charm." Marcus says Cruz's relationship with fellow Texas Sen. John Cornyn is "frosty." And his performance in recent hearings appears to have annoyed many. Cruz was rebuked by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Bill Nelson for questioning Chuck Hagel's patriotism in hearings on his Secretary of Defense nomination. Democrat Claire McCaskill told Politico, "He was engaging in innuendo, and it was terribly unfair." (Cruz says he wasn't impugning Hagel's character.) He defied Armed Services Committee chair Carl Levin, who told Cruz not to play audio of a call-in show during Hagel's hearing. Levin also noted Cruz was trying change committee rules by demanding five years of financial disclosures from Hagel, instead of the customary two. He annoyed Democrat Chuck Schumer on a Sunday talk show by being extra aggressive.
Graham told Politico, "[T]he one thing I will say to any new senator — you’re going to be respected if you can throw a punch but you also have to prove you can do a deal." An anonymous Senate Republican said, "It’s becoming a trend when you’re a new arrival,... They don’t get to know the Senate or the other senators; they just start talking. And that takes away from [Cruz’s] ability to be an influential legislator." It's not that Cruz doesn't know how to be nice in public. The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza reported he was a college debate champion and a Supreme Court litigator, and he "was more down to earth than his Hermès tie and Patek Philippe watch suggested." That charm has not yet shone through to his new Senate colleagues.