THE BLOG
07/31/2015 07:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ted Cruz Just Disqualified Himself for President, Part II

For a person who wants to be President of the United States, Sen. Ted Cruz is sure not acting presidential.

When he was Majority Leader, Harry Reid called Ted Cruz a "schoolyard bully" on the Senate floor. I won't go that far, because I don't know the man personally; I've never spoken to him, and it would be unfair for me to characterize someone in such a personal fashion without doing so. But I will reiterate something that I wrote last March: Sen. Cruz is not qualified to be President of the United States. It's not because he's a bully or a relatively inexperienced senator compared to colleagues that have been legislating for the past several decades (President Obama, after all, was only in the U.S. Senate for less than four years). He isn't fit to be President because his behavior over the past several weeks has been anything but presidential: calling his party leader a "lair" during a floor speech (something that he had to walk back as he was criticized by senior GOP senators for his conduct), misquoting witnesses during Senate hearings, and refusing to acknowledge that there are some things in this world (like the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) that require level-headed, cool and calculated analysis.

A big part of being a Commander-in-Chief is to demonstrate the fortitude to treat your political opponents with respect, refraining from attacks directed at an individual just because your opponent happens to express a different position on a policy, and engaging in a pragmatism that enables the country to move forward. One can argue whether President George W. Bush and President Barak Obama's policies are wrong or foolish, but you can't argue the fact that both men acted like a President -- that is, exhibited the characteristics of patience during times of crisis or confrontation. Can we say the same thing about Ted Cruz, a senator that has based his entire political career on confrontation?

Confrontation, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing on is own. Sometimes, you need to stand up to your bosses (in Cruz's case, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) when you think they are straying on the wrong path or giving up their principles for the sake of political expediency. But other times, confrontation is downright disrespectful and doesn't do him any favors.

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AP Photo

Take the Iran nuclear agreement. Congressional Republicans as well as some Democrats are absolutely convinced that the JCPOA negotiated by the Obama administration and six other countries is a terrible mistake. Whether it concerns the 24-day waiting period to gain access to undeclared sites, the $50-60 billion that Tehran will receive in sanctions relief, or the 15-year limitation on Iran's uranium stockpile (Iran will be free to enrich as much as it wants, for as long as it wants), plenty of lawmakers are concerned about what the White House agreed to. This is fair game. What isn't appropriate is when a member of Congress -- any member of Congress -- turns that legitimate opposition into an exhibition that has no basis in reality.

Sen. Cruz's questioning of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on July 29 is a perfect illustration. Cruz could have done what many of his Republican colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did: give a lengthy speech about why the Iran deal is a bad one and why U.S. negotiators needed to hold out for something better. Instead, Cruz (and Sen. Lindsey Graham, I might add) used his several minutes of questioning time (starts at 2:41:33) to misquote Secretary Kerry, attempt to trap him into apologizing to the families of U.S. service members who were killed in Iraq by Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, and misquoted Secretary Moniz's position on EMP's. How that helped the American people better understand a long and complicated 159-page diplomatic agreement is beyond me.

This useless encounter was after Cruz called "the Obama administration the world's leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism" thanks to the billions of dollars in sanctions relief that Tehran would receive if they complied by the JCPOA. That remark was so ridiculous that 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney called it "way over the line" in a tweet.

Is this the type of rhetoric that we want a future President of the United States to use? Ted Cruz can blast the Iran agreement all he wants, but making up things as he goes along ain't working for him.