On Assholes

Asshole of the Week: Senator Ted Cruz

Let us proceed in an intuitive way, without the aid of our theory.  Let us ask whether freshman U.S. Senator Ted Cruz qualifies for the designation “asshole,” in light of–and while simply taking for granted–the claims made here in the NY Times.  Accordingly, we simply go with our gut reaction as to whether or not the term applies:

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.

He sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and during its final meeting on Tuesday about Hagel’s nomination, he made such nefarious and hectoring insinuations about Hagel’s possible corruption by foreign influences that McCain, who’d gleefully raked Hagel over the coals himself, more or less told Cruz to cool it.

…[His classmates] remember him as arrogant, sour and self-serving, traits that apply to his brief time in the Senate so far. In questioning Hagel during the nominee’s confirmation hearing, he took a surprisingly, audaciously contemptuous tone.

Separately, in front of an audience of conservatives, he smirked dismissively as he griped that Hagel and John Kerry were “less than ardent fans of the U.S. military.” Those two men fought in Vietnam, and earned Purple Hearts; Cruz never served in the institution he purports to regard so much more highly than they do.

…He has an affinity for opposing, a yen for obstructing. He belonged to the minority of 22 senators who voted against the Violence Against Women Act, which passed with 78 votes. He also voted against suspending the debt ceiling for three months and against aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

….He’s been quick to seize spotlights like the one presented by “Meet the Press,” and while newly minted senators often keep a relatively low profile, he reportedly holds forth in Senate conferences at great and off-putting length. And he’s drawing unusual admonitions from senior Republicans.

If I may opine, these data points are insufficient to rigorously establish that Cruz is properly classified as an asshole.  For that, we need to identify a mistaken sense of entitlement.  But without doing that, let me issue this bold suggestion:  his conduct provides initial evidence, and indeed a prima face case, that he, indeed, qualifies.  So my gut says.  But no need to rush to judgment: we’ll have ample evidence in time.