Senator Ted Cruz paid a surprise visit to a FreedomWorks organizing meeting last week to congratulate them for their 'victory' with regard to gun safety legislation. After telling them they're 'winning', Cruz went on to share his special secrets of successful interactions with his colleagues with the group.
In his short time at the Capitol, Senator Ted Cruz, a freshman Republican from Texas, has shown little regard for long-standing rules of decorum. But on Friday, he publicly discussed the closed-door dealings of the Senate Republican Conference — and trashed his colleagues in the process.
Stopping by a Texas meeting of the Tea Party-aligned group FreedomWorks, Mr. Cruz called many of his colleagues “squishes,” forced to stand on conservative principles by the uncompromising stands of a triumphant trio of Republican “constitutionalists”: himself and Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
At stake was the gun control legislation that the Senate dragged down this month. At issue for Mr. Cruz might be his exposure of a series of closed-door luncheons in which fellow Republicans took the three to task for announcing in advance that they would filibuster every single vote on the gun measure, including the simple motion to take up and begin debating the bill. Such meetings are expressly off the record.
“We’ve had probably five or six lunches with a bunch of Republican senators standing up and looking at Rand and Mike and me and yelling at the top of their lungs — I mean really upset,” he told the group to laughter and titters, according to a video posted by a Tea Party blogger and promoted by the liberal group People for the American Way. “And they said: ‘Why did you do this? As a result of what you did, when I go home, my constituents are yelling at me that I’ve got to stand on principle.’ I’m not making that up. I don’t even bother to argue with them. I just sort of let them yell.”
Cruz has a persuasive way about him. That shirtsleeve-and-hometown accent gives him the air of a good guy just trying to do the right thing in that polluted Washington town. His cadence is almost like that of a Southern Baptist preacher, casual yet urgent, and above all, righteous. Nowhere was this more evident than when he accused President Obama of using the Newtown families as "props." I think the president has already shredded that particular slam, but I'm sure it played well with the Faithful Ones.
While I'm one who thinks that there are many Senate traditions which are long past due to be broken, I don't think trashing one's colleagues is the way to do that. Principle is great, but Cruz presumes only his principles matter. For those Senators who actually think of life and liberty as a fundamental right that clashes with the right to bear arms, there might be room for some compromise. Under Cruz' 'principles' why not make tanks and nukes legal to purchase without identification or a background check? How about grenade launchers? Land mines?
It's great to stand on principle and the like, but the Senate is a deliberative body. Or at least, it's supposed to be, and that means they actually listen to the other side of their Very Serious Principled Argument and craft a way forward.
Calling your colleagues 'squishes' might not be the best way to do that.