For much of his tenure as a freshman senator for Texas, Ted Cruz has attracted ample media attention for being in the political limelight. Many people came to believe that he was the de facto leader of the Republican Party. He was the fiery, bombastic politician who recklessly accused respected Chuck Hagel of accepting compensation for giving speeches to radical groups, with no evidence whatsoever. Cruz accused Harvard Law School of harboring communist faculty members, again, with no evidence. He also accused war veteran John Kerry of being anti-American. He delivered a rambling, exceedingly odd pseudo-filibuster that incorporated, of all things, Green Eggs and Ham, the beloved children's story. Most famously, he played a pivotal role in helping to shut down the federal government.
Now, Cruz is attracting media scrutiny for the exact opposite reason: he is being strangely quiet. What could be the reasons for this? Quite possibly, it is because of Ted Cruz fatigue. He has proven to be so divisive, so extreme, and so controversial that, perhaps, the Republican establishment has essentially tried to put a leash on him. It's also quite possible that Cruz himself has realized that he has gone too far. After all, Americans furiously excoriated the Republicans for the costly, unnecessary shutdown. Perhaps he finally realizes that he is one of the reasons why Republicans can no longer attract middle-of-the-road voters. It says a lot when Ken Cuccinelli--who is a conservative firebrand himself--began distancing himself from Cruz during the last few weeks of his doomed campaign.
Does this mean that, from
now on, Cruz will become the typical, deferential freshman senator? Don't count on it. Given Cruz's showboating tendencies, it's
unlikely that he'll stay out of the limelight for long. Anyway, although the Republican establishment
is ambivalent about the
rabble-rousing Cruz, it still finds that it needs his services. He is a Tea Party darling, and no one fires
up the conservative base as he can.
Although Democrats, moderates, and independents often find him to be
obnoxious, if not terrifying, conservatives adore him, and conservatives are
still vital to the party as a whole.
Like it or not, Cruz is a star.