In my Politico column today I make (an admittedly very loose) comparison between Ted Cruz and Richard Nixon:
[Cruz] wears his ambition on his sleeve and is not highly charismatic or relatable. In high school, he could have been voted most likely to be seen walking on the beach in his dress shoes. If Cruz wins the nomination, it will be on the strength of intelligence and willpower. He will have outworked, outsmarted and outmaneuvered everyone else.
Certainly, Cruz is not ascending on the basis of warm feelings from his colleagues. Cruz portrays his unpopularity within the Senate as establishment distaste for him as a lonely man of principle. But it is a genuine personal dislike. Not that Cruz cares. In fact, a key to what he has been able to achieve is his apparent immunity to the reflexive desire to be liked by people around you, a weakness to which almost all of us fall prey. Cruz is free of the peer pressure that typically makes all senators, at some level, team players.
In some ways, he has been a conservative version of John McCain. The Arizonan is much more of an institutionalist than Cruz, but McCain didn’t particularly care about his colleagues or their interests as he cultivated his image as a maverick in the media. Cruz has played to a different element of the media, the conservative press, marketing himself as a peerless conservative paragon.
Cruz is a Reagan Republican, although with considerable flexibility within those parameters. When Rand Paul seemed to be on the ascendancy a couple of years ago, Cruz was a Reagan Republican with Paulite accents. When Donald Trump began to dominate, Cruz became a Reagan Republican with Trumpian tendencies. If Jim Gilmore were to catch fire, Cruz would presumably find a way to incorporate a Gilmoresque element into his platform.
This can be galling to watch, but effective nonetheless.