Search This Blog

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cruz and Gramm

Jonathan Weisman writes in the New York Times about Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX):
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, challenged 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.
Is Cruz's brash Senate debut unprecedented?  Not quite.  In some ways, he's following the in path of another  Texan, Phil GrammOn March 30, 1986, Steven V. Roberts wrote in The New York Times:
HOW DOES A FIRST-TERM SENATOR become the driving force behind such a major piece of legislation?
One answer is the changing structure of Congress itself. Reforms adopted in the wake of Watergate eroded the rule of seniority. Moreover, the leadership has lost much of its ability to enforce institutional inhibitions against wayward behavior. ''Gramm represents the fact that you can get away with it,'' says Ross Baker of Rutgers.
Gramm has repeatedly defied Congressional norms and gotten away with it. Earlier this year, when he was on a television program with Senator Daniel P. Moynihan, Gramm described the New York Democrat as ''one of the weakest'' supporters of national defense in Congress.
Moynihan retorted angrily that his record had been misrepresented and said, ''You're one year in the Senate, fella, you don't do that to another Senator.'' But in Gramm's view, you can do almost anything to another Senator if you feel he is wrong. Asked about his statement, Gramm replied that he had no brief for liberals like Moynihan who were ''crying alligator tears'' over the defense budget.