If you’re a Hispanic parent dreaming your child will grow up to be a United States senator, be careful what you wish for.
You may dream for Marco Rubio, but you could wind up with Ted Cruz.
Cruz, the first Latino senator from Texas, was elected last November as the darling not only of conservatives in the Lone Star State but also of the Tea Party movement in particular.
He might not have been the ideal Latino U.S. senator many Hispanics in Texas had hoped for, but he was better than nothing, or at least some thought. They hoped he would become one of the leading spokesmen for Hispanic issues as well as a symbol of the immigrant dream at a time when comprehensive immigration reform is on the front burner.
Sen. Joseph McCarthy, an American pariah
Instead, there are now Latinos who are wincing at the mention of his name and what an embarrassment he seems to have become in not even two months in Washington where some are likening him to the notorious 1950s senator, Joseph McCarthy, whose rabid search for communists—that included smearing completely innocent people—ultimately made him an American pariah.
That’s all Latino America needs—a Hispanic demagogue reminding them of one of the saddest, sorriest periods in American history.
But Ted Cruz is on his way to possibly becoming that. So much promise has quickly gotten stuck in a quagmire of needless grandstanding and name-smearing, all beginning in this month’s Armed Services Committee hearings on the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.
Cruz quickly made his point early on in the hearings, leading a harsh opening round of questioning that exposed Hagel as perhaps not being as prepared to explain himself in a contentious setting as he should have been.
As a former senator from Nebraska, Hagel had possibly expected a gentler probing from the legislative body of which he had been a member. But this was Washington, after all, and he was the nominee of a Democratic president who has been the ongoing target of Republicans, especially conservatives.
Some of the Armed Services Committee members soon let up, but not Cruz, who seemed to be going after Hagel and questioning his character unnecessarily. It seemed unnecessary because Hagel, who doesn’t appear to have done anything criminally wrong, will likely be confirmed by the senate in the end.
Bu if anyone came out of those hearings with their credibility and common sense exposed, it was Cruz.
“I don’t know the man’s personality,” said MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. “I know he’s got an interesting background. He’s a brilliant guy in many ways.”
“But the tactics, you know, I watched him in those hearings and I saw Joe McCarthy. I saw the way he was prosecuting the case, the way he was putting up evidence, innuendo, guilt by association.”
Ted Cruz’s Senate colleagues were equally unamused, with California Democrat Barbara Boxer, saying she was reminded of the McCarthy witch-hunting of the early 1950s.
“It was really reminiscent of a different time and place, when you said, ‘I have here in my pocket a speech you made on such and such a date,’ and of course nothing was in the pocket,” Boxer said. “It was reminiscent of some bad times.”
There’s a term Latinos have for Cruz’s behavior, at least Mexican Americans in Texas, and it’s appropriate here.