While his fellow Tea Party senators, from Paul to Rubio to Utah’s Mike Lee, built detailed policy portfolios that fit their interests and inclinations, Cruz never seemed to take a step on any contentious issue without gaming it out 17 moves ahead.
His push for the Obamacare shutdown, and the bill of goods he sold the party’s base, was a particularly remarkably exercise in self-serving political cynicism. But on many fronts — Edward Snowden, trade policy, immigration, the fate of Middle Eastern Christians — Cruz has proceeded with several fingers in the wind; every time the conservative mood has shifted even a little, he’s shifted quickly too.
The same pattern has prevailed in the presidential campaign, in his complicated relationship to Trump — obsequious at first, cynically imitative on issues where Trump’s demagogy has worked, and finally self-righteous and dudgeon-filled now that the name-calling and scandal-mongering have been turned against his reputation and his family.
Ross Douthat, “Who Is Ted Cruz?”, The New York Times (27 March 2016), SR11.