That Ted Cruz is an asshole is, at this point, accepted wisdom. Mother Jones today penned what is, to date, the most definitive study on the subject.
While close observers of the man might not be surprised by much in the MJ article, some will be struck by both the depth of hatred for the Texas Senator and the consistency over time of the opinions of others. Truly, this man has been a dick since high school, single-minded in his self-regard and self-promotion.
It would be impressive, would it not for the fact that he finds in this unique moment in our history a plausible (if, hopefully, still unlikely) path to the Presidency.
From Mother Jones:
"Ted thought he was an expert on everything," says [a Bush 2000] campaign veteran, who asked not to be named. "He was a smart and talented guy, but completely taken with himself and his own ideas. He would offer up opinions on everything, even matters outside his portfolio. He was a policy guy, but he would push his ideas on campaign strategy. He would send memos on everything to everyone. He would come to meetings where he wasn't invited—and wasn't wanted." In fact, this Bush alum recalls, "the quickest way for a meeting to end would be for Ted to come in. People would want out of that meeting. People wouldn't go to a meeting if they knew he would be there. It was his inability to be part of the team. That's exactly what he was: a big asshole."
In law school, as Mother Jones notes, "GQ reported that Cruz started a study group during his first year in Cambridge, but he announced that "he didn't want anybody from 'minor Ivies' like Penn or Brown." In an interview with the Boston Globe, another student recalled what happened when she agreed to carpool with Cruz: "We hadn't left Manhattan before he asked my IQ."
To be sure, Cruz was an asshole well before Harvard Law. As the Daily Beast points out in a 2013 profile that posits that he was both off-putting to many and well-liked in debate team circles, "In addition to [Cruz's freshman roommate Craig] Mazin and [freshman dormmate Erik] Leitch, several fellow classmates who asked that their names not be used described the young Cruz with words like “abrasive,” "intense," “strident,” “crank,” and “arrogant." Four independently offered the word “creepy,” with some pointing to Cruz’s habit of donning a paisley bathrobe and walking to the opposite end of their dorm’s hallway where the female students lived.
“I would end up fielding the [girls’] complaints: 'Could you please keep your roommate out of our hallway?'" Mazin says.
While all of these stories combine to paint a picture of an unpleasant guy, it remains hard to put into words the overall Cruz Affect. It's equal parts smarm, intellectual arrogance, and dangerous ambition. To borrow a word from German (and God Bless you industrious Teutons for your habit of creating evocative words), Cruz personifies backpfeifengesicht, which translates to "face that should be slapped".
We've been lauded for our work in explaining the election thus far, but I have no explanation for Ted Cruz. (Molly Ball's piece in The Atlantic today is a pretty good primer, though.) He's a man who will say and do anything to become President, to appeal to the baser instincts of the electorate - if there's a more cynical construction than, "We will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out," in this most cynical of electoral cycles, I've yet to hear it.
No, I can't explain this one. I can only be afraid of it. Ted Cruz scares the shit out of me. Naked, Machiavellian ambition on a global scale should scare the shit out of all of us.