Ted Cruz is taking the "fast track" to Senate stardom, and that means capitalizing on conflict, writes Frank Bruni in the New York Times. He hasn't been around long, but he's already made "groundless and shameless" accusations against Chuck Hagel, offered Dianne Feinstein some constitutional pedantry, and even slapped fellow Republicans as "squishes." His stand against ObamaCare is forcing GOPers either to call for a government shutdown—likely hurting the party—or risk getting a place "on the far right’s watch list."
What's more, his strategy won't get him far (even if it makes headlines) because successful politicians have to be likeable, whereas Cruz is "grandstanding and bloviating his way to obsolescence," Bruni writes. In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank agrees that Cruz is all about ambition—but he says Republicans like Cruz aren't risking their necks in the shutdown debate. In fact, they're "doing what’s necessary to survive in a political system gone mad." Thanks in large part to district mapping, few GOP House seats are "even marginally competitive," and conservative-dominated primaries are the only threat. So to keep their jobs, lawmakers have no choice but to take a Cruz-like path. Click for Milbank's full piece or for Bruni's.