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A Very Junior Senator’s Bomb-Throwing Debut - NYTimes.com


A Very Junior Senator s Bomb Throwing Debut NYTimes com

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“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,” she said, a reference to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s bloody pursuit of communists in the 1950s. “It was reminiscent of some bad times.”

In just two months, Mr. Cruz, 42, has made his presence felt in an institution where new arrivals are usually not heard from for months, if not years. Besides suggesting that Mr. Hagel might have received compensation from foreign enemies, he has tangled with the mayor of Chicago, sandbagged the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat on national television, voted against virtually everything before him — including the confirmation of John Kerry as secretary of state — and raised the hackles of colleagues from both parties.

He could not be more pleased. Washington’s new bad boy feels good.

“I made promises to the people of Texas that I would come to Washington to shake up the status quo,” he said in e-mailed answers to questions in lieu of a speaking voice. “That is what I intend to do, and it is what I have done in every way possible in the responsibilities that have been granted to me.”

In a body known for comity, Mr. Cruz is taking confrontational Tea Party sensibilities to new heights — or lows, depending on one’s perspective. Wowed conservatives hail him as a hero, but even some Republican colleagues are growing publicly frustrated with a man who has taken the zeal of the prosecutor and applied it to the decorous quarters of the Senate.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said that some of the demands Mr. Cruz made of Mr. Hagel were “out of bounds, quite frankly.” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, issued a public rebuke after Mr. Cruz suggested, with no evidence, that Mr. Hagel had accepted honoraria from North Korea.

“All I can say is that the appropriate way to treat Senator Hagel is to be as tough as you want to be, but don’t be disrespectful or malign his character,” Mr. McCain said in an interview.

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