Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) “f***ing hates” his Senate colleague Ted Cruz, according to a new lengthy GQ profile of Cruz written by Jason Zengerle.
What else is inside the GQ feature? We pulled the best parts.
The large portrait of Cruz in his Senate office keeps him “grounded”: [A]ll along, what kept drawing my eye was a giant oil painting above the couch depicting Cruz as he delivered the first of his nine oral arguments before the Supreme Court. “I was 32 years old,” he recalled. “It was abundantly clear we didn’t have a prayer…. And I’ve always enjoyed the fact that as I’m sitting at my desk, I’m looking at a giant painting of me getting my rear end whipped 9-0.” He gazed at the wall. It is an unusual painting: From the artist’s vantage point, we see three other courtroom artists, each also drawing Cruz—so the painting actually features not one but four images of young Cruz before the bench. “It is helpful,” he explained to me, “for keeping one grounded.”
At Harvard, Cruz was selective of his study buddies: As a law student at Harvard, he refused to study with anyone who hadn’t been an undergrad at Harvard, Princeton, or Yale. Says Damon Watson, one of Cruz’s law-school roommates: “He said he didn’t want anybody from ‘minor Ivies’ like Penn or Brown.”
The past bankruptcy of Cruz’s father Rafael is a sore subject: [T]here’s one part of Rafael’s story that Cruz purposefully omits, and it might be the most affecting—and offers perhaps the most revealing window into Ted’s own youthful determination. Cruz’s father had started an oil and gas exploration business, then moved with his wife to Calgary, where Ted was born. (Cruz’s supporters say—and most legal experts agree—that his Canadian birth would not be an obstacle should he ever run for the White House, since, by dint of his mother’s American citizenship, he qualifies as a natural-born American citizen.) In 1974 the family followed the oil business to the Houston suburbs, where Ted would enjoy a typical American adolescence. But then, in the ’80s, when Ted was in high school, the oil industry briefly cratered, and his father’s business tumbled down with it. He went bankrupt. Eventually his marriage crumbled as well.
When I brought up the bankruptcy one afternoon in Cruz’s office—I had learned about it from one of his college friends—his face fell and he grew quiet. After a moment, he let out a long sigh and acknowledged that this was true. “My father poured all of my parents’ personal assets into the company, and demand for oil and gas exploration just disappeared, because oil prices dropped so low. There’s a whole generation of people in the energy industry at that time that just lost everything.”
Working in George W. Bush’s first term, Cruz wasn’t that popular with his colleagues: Cruz’s personal style earned him many detractors in BushWorld. He was infamous for firing off mundane work e-mails in the middle of the night—it happened so often that some in the Bush campaign suspected him of writing them ahead of time and programming his computer to send while he was asleep. He was also known for dispatching regular updates on his accomplishments that one recipient likened to “the cards people send about their families at Christmas, except Ted’s were only about him and were more frequent.” When it came time to divvy up the spoils of victory, many of Cruz’s campaign colleagues headed to the White House; Cruz went to Washington, too—but he was exiled to the outer Siberia of the Federal Trade Commission. Says one friend: “He was pretty crushed.”
What Cruz’s associates say about his attempt to defund Obamacare by way of threatening a government shutdown: In multiple conversations with people who know Cruz well, I kept hearing the same refrain: “He’s smart enough to know better.”