Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz hasn't even completed two years in the United States Senate, which makes his accomplishments of the past few days all the more remarkable.
The best way to gauge his stature is by the harsh treatment he routinely receives from the establishment media. A profile in the Wall Street Journal began and ended with accounts of Cruz getting snubbed by his Senate colleagues, the first time on the Capitol subway, the second on an elevator in his office building. According to the Journal's account, on the short rides none of his colleagues even acknowledged his presence. The implication--made explicit with other anecdotes and quotes--was that Cruz might be making a lot of noise, but he wasn't making much of an impression on other senators.
There's plenty of impressive evidence to the contrary. For starters, that conclusion doesn't parse with the passage of his bill--co-sponsored with Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) -- denying a U.S. visa to foreign diplomats with a terrorist background. That bill passed both houses unanimously, a real rarity that suggests the subway and elevator rides weren't accurate metaphors for Cruz's standing. Votes count more than chit-chat.
In the same period, Cruz called for the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder, tweeted a thoughtful critique of the administration's claim that Obamacare was hugely popular, and sprung an entertaining April Fool's Day prank on Fox News. And recent polls show he's the most popular Texas political leader.
The call for Holder's impeachment was made on Sean Hannity's radio show. He said that if Holder's Justice Department did not move aggressively against Lois Lerner and her fellow conspirators in Justice, Congress and the Internal Revenue Service, the Attorney General should be subject to impeachment. Holder has already been held in contempt of Congress, to no real effect, and the only effective Congressional remedy is impeachment. Other members bemoan their failure to produce results; Cruz is calling their attention to the Constitutional path forward.
His economics tweet stole a classic image from a noted French theorist, Frederic Bastiat's "broken window." Cruz spoofed the president's bragging about all the signups for Obamacare by asking why so many were enrolling. Well, he said, suppose the government started selling car windows. and then organized hoodlums to smash the windows. The government would then sell a lot of windows, wouldn't it? In like manner, the government had gone into the health insurance business, and was wrecking traditional health insurance. So people are compelled to buy the feds' insurance, or, as he put it, "Bam! The government declares its new...business a huge success."
It was a hugely popular tweet.
Finally, the prank. Hostile bloggers had photoshopped a picture of Cruz with tattoos all over his body. Somebody on Fox asked him if he had any tattoos, and he rolled up his sleeve. Voila! A tattoo of Winston Churchill.
Stunned, his hosts started asking questions--was it real or what? And Cruz said they'd do well to check the date before accepting the evidence their eyes had provided.
As I say, he's on a roll. I can understand why some of his colleagues are jealous, and many were already annoyed at this uppity senator from Texas who refuses to sit quietly and wait for seniority to happen to him. But I can also understand why lots of Americans are getting to like the guy. He's smart, he's tough, and he's got a sense of humor. Bigtime journalists might want to loosen up a bit.
Ledeen is Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.