NY Times Suggests Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz Takes Confrontation to New Lows of 'McCarthyism'

February 18th, 2013 6:09 PM

Newly minted Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Tea Party politician, is "raising bipartisan hackles" and otherwise being a "bad boy" in the previously collegial U.S. Senate, opined political reporter Jonathan Weisman on the front page of Saturday's New York Times: "Texas Senator Goes on Attack And Raises Bipartisan Hackles."

Clearly disturbed about Cruz's treatment of Obama's nominee for defense secretary Chuck Hagel, reporter Weisman even put a mike in front of not one but two liberal Democratic senators who likened Cruz to notorious Sen. Joe McCarthy. Well, at least Cruz is liked by what Weisman called "ardent conservatives."

As the Senate edged toward a divisive filibuster vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, sat silent and satisfied in the corner of the chamber -- his voice lost to laryngitis -- as he absorbed what he had wrought in his mere seven weeks of Senate service.

Mr. Hagel, a former senator from Mr. Cruz’s own party, was about to be the victim of the first filibuster of a nominee to lead the Pentagon. The blockade was due in no small part to the very junior senator’s relentless pursuit of speeches, financial records or any other documents with Mr. Hagel’s name on them going back at least five years. Some Republicans praised the work of the brash newcomer, but others joined Democrats in saying that Mr. Cruz had gone too far.

Without naming names, Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, offered a biting label for the Texan’s accusatory crusade: McCarthyism.

“It was really reminiscent of a different time and place, when you said, ‘I have here in my pocket a speech you made on such and such a date,’ and, of course, nothing was in the pocket,” she said, a reference to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s pursuit of Communists in the 1950s. “It was reminiscent of some bad times.”

Apparently Cruz is supposed to wait his turn before doing what his constituents elected him to do.

In a body known for comity, Mr. Cruz is taking confrontational Tea Party sensibilities to new heights -- or lows, depending on one’s perspective. Wowed conservatives hail him as a hero, but even some Republican colleagues are growing publicly frustrated with a man who has taken the zeal of the prosecutor and applied it to the decorous quarters of the Senate.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said that some of the demands Mr. Cruz made of Mr. Hagel were “out of bounds, quite frankly.” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, issued a public rebuke after Mr. Cruz suggested, with no evidence, that Mr. Hagel had accepted honorariums from North Korea.


To the growing core of ardent conservatives in the Senate, Mr. Cruz has offered a jolt of positive energy.


Chris Chocola, the president of the Club for Growth, a conservative free-market political action committee that strongly backed Mr. Cruz in his victory last year against the establishment’s favorite, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, said the new senator was doing precisely what he had expected. The growing caucus of ardent conservatives -- Mr. Cruz, Mr. Paul, Marco Rubio of Florida, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Tim Scott of South Carolina -- has begun reshaping what it means to be a Republican in the Senate, he said.

Revealingly, Weisman quoted another Democrat politician who accused Cruz of McCarthyism. But instead of chiding her for the comparison, he and Sen. McCaskill appeared to commiserate over that nasty conservative Ted Cruz.

After she raised the specter of McCarthyism, [Senator Claire] McCaskill was asked if she had spoken to Mr. Cruz about her concerns.

“I’m not sure it would do any good,” she said. “Do you?”

National Review's Michael Auslin reacted: "Having largely dropped the charge of racism once leveled against tea partiers, the MSM has clearly looked for another slander, and now they’ve found it. Expect to hear McCarthyism dropped around a lot in coming months, whenever Republicans push back hard against Barack (I’m Not The Emperor) Obama’s hard-left choices in his second term. Weisman’s reporting is too vapid to actually explore the reasons Cruz and his conservative Senate compatriots have voted the way they have; rather, it is interested only in portraying them as slightly less deranged than General Jack Ripper in Dr. Strangelove."

Columnist Frank Bruni on Sunday also took on Cruz, aka "The G.O.P.'s Nasty Newcomer."

And Ted Cruz, a Republican freshman in the Senate who has been front and center in his party’s effort to squash Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense, has a problem. He’s an ornery, swaggering piece of work. Just six weeks since his arrival on Capitol Hill, he’s already known for his naysaying, his nit-picking and his itch to upbraid lawmakers who are vastly senior to him, who have sacrificed more than he has and who deserve a measure of respect, or at least an iota of courtesy. Courtesy isn’t Cruz’s métier. Grandstanding and browbeating are.