Well, that didn’t take long.

Or, as NBC broadcaster Andrea Mitchell put it recently, “Ted Cruz has made his mark already.”

If The Cruz were a missile, there might be a plaintive call to Mission Control: “Houston, we have a problem.”

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In just six weeks, Texas’ new U.S. senator has irked just about everyone he’s encountered in Washington. Those spared just haven’t crossed The Cruz Missile’s path yet.

The Cruz was one of just three of 100 senators to vote against confirming their colleague, Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts, as secretary of state. But the best-publicized demonstration of The Cruz in action was the confirmation hearings of Republican former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.

The Cruz actually caused some fellow GOP members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to defend Hagel.

When The Cruz questioned decorated Vietnam vet Hagel’s dealings with foreign governments, hackles rose.

The Cruz: “We saw in this nomin-ation something truly extraordinary, which is the government of Iran formally and publicly praising the nomination of a defense secretary.”

Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson said The Cruz “has gone over the line. He basically has impugned the patriotism of the nominee.”

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, another Vietnam vet, former prisoner-of-war, and Hagel opponent, chimed in. “Sen. Hagel is an honorable man,” McCain testified sternly. “He has served his country. And no one on this committee, at any time, should impugn his character or his integrity.”

Later, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, questioned The Cruz’ intimations that Hagel had gotten speech honorariums from North Korea. She compared it to McCarthyism.

Cruz “just laid out … all of this accusatory verbiage without a shred of evidence,” McCaskill said. “In this country we had a terrible experience with innuendo … when Joe McCarthy hung out in the United States Senate.”

The Cruz said 24 other senators backed his request for more financial disclosures by Hagel. As for Hagel getting  money from questionable sources? His “suggestions,” Cruz said, “have been merely to raise examples for why I believe Sen. Hagel’s financial disclosure is so important.”

The Cruz said he felt “compelled to vote ‘no’ on Sen. Kerry’s nomination because of his longstanding less-than-vigorous defense of U.S. national security issues.” And though he himself has no military service, the Cruz also questioned the commitment of decorated vets Kerry and Hagel to the armed forces.

Later, even Hagel critic Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said The Cruz’ undocumented charges were “out of bounds, quite frankly.”

The Cruz is an accidental senator, beneficiary of a perfect storm that claimed front-runner Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. To Dewhurst’s detriment, a redistricting court decision postponed the Republican primary from March 6 — when Dewhurst was expected to win without a runoff — to May 29.

Dewhurst got 44.6 percent but not a majority. Cruz got 34.2 percent.

In most states, without runoffs in primaries, Dewhurst would probably be senator today and The Cruz a faint memory.

But Texas is one of 11 states that require runoffs. Nine weeks later, The Cruz won the GOP nomination in the runoff, 56.8 percent to 43.2. In red-state Texas at present, the general election is just a formality.

John Cornyn, Texas’ senior Republican senator, has voted in lockstep with The Cruz against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, raising the debt ceiling, cutting off military sales to Egypt, authorizing relief aid for Hurricane Sandy, and of course confirming Kerry.

Speculation is that Cornyn, whose term is up next year, worries about getting “primaried” in 2014. Is he trying to avoid being passed on the right by a Tea Party candidate, as Dewhurst was?

So far, The Cruz’ biggest accomplishments seem to be making the Senate’s other Cuban-American, Marco Rubio of Florida, seem closer to the mainstream and Kentucky’s Rand Paul less lonesomely wacky.

For those who think Texans are know-it-all blowhards, The Cruz is reinforcing the brand.

For others, The Cruz Missile seems more like the cruise ship that broke down in the Gulf of Mexico, forcing passengers to endure several days without enough food, water, or toilets. A senator is not a broken-down cruise ship. But in this case, the smell is the same.

Veteran Texas political writer Dave McNeely can be reached at


  1. Oh come on! the Violence Against Women Act is a poorly written (by Biden in’94) ineffective slick sounding piece of legislative trash which actually makes it harder for local or state law enforcement officials to enforce domestic violence offenses due to the insertion of the legislatively required (slow to no) intervention of the US Atty DOJ in selected cases.It is a resounding failure and I’m glad that many have finally recognized it’s multitude of short comings. Now you tell me that anorexic senile old witch Andrea Mitchell is a reliable source of news info about Republicans? We have to endure lectures on ethics by Claire (the lobbyists favorite bribe taker) McCaskill? Sen (suck up the Mediocaid funds to vote for Obamacare-let’s make a deal) Nelson? Sen (for life) John McCain? Did you miss the fact that only 4 Republican Senaotrs voted for Hagel?
    While I am sure that millionaire Dewhurst was surprised that he couldn’t buy last year’s senatorial election, he wouldn’t get any respect from this rag either. ( Dewhurst doesn’t deserve the time of day after his sleezy character assasination campaign– attempting to tie Cruz to the death of an institutionalized teen courtesy of the departed boy’s unbelievable nutty mother.)You will get your chance to wax eloquently about poor little rich boy Dewhurst in upcoming elections—can’t wait to see how that comes out! (LOL)

  2. Many of us are in complete agreement with Cruz. We’re not fanatical, we are patriots. We need people like Cruz to help “the people” take back our nation and stop the same old same old that goes on in our nation’s capitol. I talk to people all over Texas that are very grateful for Cruz

    • Really! Who cares if Cruz is outspoken at this point? At least we know that he is alive –unlike years of “missing in action” KBH. Even Cronyn seems to have awakened and come to life on some issues. (BTW Andrea Mitchell is a plastic surgery disaster. Even liberals don’t take Andrea seriously!)

  3. I have to agree with Jenn’s comment of February 28. There are so many politicians who do not represent their constituents. Having heard Mr. Cruz speak on several occasions I am proud that he represents Texas. If Mr. Cruz and Mr. Paul don’t speak up for us who will. Certainly not President Obama or Attorney General Holder. Why can’t Holder speak in plain english that Drone attacks on US soil against US citizens is wrong and against the Constitution.
    I have to assume that he condones this action as within the President’s power. I hope people realize that our constitutional rights are being stripped away and anyone who stands up for our rights is called a “Crack-Pot” or “Gun Fanatic” or compared to a cruise missile that is off course.

    Dave McNeely you are completely misguided and ignorant, that’s no way to go through life.

    • While I agree with you all, there will have to continue to be more substance than “showboating” on these issues in order to prevail.

  4. Its sad to see the author think that nomination (or anything) should not be questioned. They should; its the way to initiate change. Some goes with calling an election in Texas a formality. Its not, and many people do not vote along party lines.

  5. What turnip truck did you guys fall off of? Cruz is dumber than the Teatards and makes Texans look dumb. Anybody “he speaks” for is intellectually stunted. And this isn’t an opinion or personal attack–Ted’s own asininity indicts you. How could anyone be vulnerable to it?

    • @ ND–Sorry you feel that any challenge to your inflexible set of beliefs is so threatening that you have to call everyone who disagrees with you names. I personally would not go so far as to write that a Harvard graduate with a law degree (and a former solicitor general for the state of Texas) is “dumb” and I really don’t think that you have advanced a suitably intellectual argument to convince the average reader that YOU are any smarter, or more tolerant.