Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz is being called the next McCarthy, and he appears to be suspicious of anyone he not “American” enough for his tastes. Take Chuck Hagel, for example. The Republican from Nebraska is a member of Cruz’s own party, has a sterling background in the U.S. military. His nomination by President Obama to Secretary of Defense seems logical, but Cruz and other Republicans are staunchly against the Vietnam veteran.
Hagel received two purple hearts during his time as an infantry squad leader, became a successful businessman and CEO, and later was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996. One of his former positions in the business world even included tenure with American Information Systems, Inc., a voting machine manufacturer. In 2008, Hagel retired from Congress and now serves as a professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He’s also a co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and serves on the board of directors of several big businesses, including oil companies.
Hagel is a prime example of a self-made man who benefited not from a communist philosophy, but through capitalism. His rise to CEO, Chevron board member, and then Senator is not the path of a man who believes in communism or undermining the American Way. To suggest that Hagel has secret ties to the United States’ enemies is disingenuous at best, ridiculous at worst. And many of Cruz’s colleagues in Congress have sharply criticized him for this McCarthyesque stand he’s taking.
Hagel's efforts, although they have outraged his colleagues, have effectively stalled Hagel's nomination based on little more than exaggerations and lies.
But this is nothing new for Cruz, who has rewritten his own personal history to fit his purposes. In previous years, he was vague about his family's emigration from Cuba to the United States, and in his writings, implied that he fought against Fidel Castro, when the fact was, that his father fought on the same side as the would-be communist dictator, leaving Cuba in only 1957.
Despite being called out for these seeming deceptions, Cruz was elected handily last November in a district that is extremely conservative, upper middle class and white.
His accusations that Chuck Hagel has collected speaking fees from North Korea and allegations that Iran has praised his nomination are pure fiction, if not malicious defamation. The junior senator promised his constituents he would go to Washington to shake things up, and he certainly has. Only, not necessarily in a good way.
These flamboyant cross examinations of Hagel's history going back at least five years, reek of McCarthyism, and it makes many in Congress uneasy. Of course, he has his share of Republican supporters, but by and large, the consensus in Washington is that Cruz has gone too far.
If Ted Cruz really has any intention of making real changes in D.C., a little less bravado and a little more reason will go a long way.