Michael Brendan Dougherty reviews the many reasons why most people can’t stand Ted Cruz, including the episode that soured him on the Texas senator:
But last fall, Cruz was invited to speak at an ecumenical gathering of Middle Eastern Christians who were lobbying for support from Washington to help their embattled flocks (some of which face genocidal violence.) For reasons I still can’t comprehend, Cruz decided to offer this tiny effort a political decapitation. He goaded the audience about its lack of support for the state of Israel and then accused them of being anti-Semites. And it is only more galling in that Ted Cruz knows the relevant history. And he knows that his evangelical audience in America is mostly ignorant of it. He knew how to get a rise out of both audiences, and raised his own profile doing it.
Cruz’s obnoxious performance at the In Defense of Christians summit last year may be the most memorable example of his willingness to sabotage causes he professes to support for his own advantage, but it fits a broader pattern of making enemies out of potential friends and denouncing anyone that doesn’t agree with Cruz about everything as a treacherous sell-out. Besides the publicity that he knew it would get him, Cruz went out of his way to pick a fight with Arab Christians over Israel for the same reason that he derided people that rejected his shutdown tactics as the “surrender caucus”: he demands total conformity with his views and imposes arbitrary litmus tests for what makes someone a real conservative (or a real Christian) so that he gets to be the one deciding who belongs and who doesn’t. It didn’t matter that Israel was irrelevant to the issue being discussed at the IDC summit. As far as Cruz was concerned, it was something he could use to raise himself above his audience (at least in his own mind) while bludgeoning them for their supposed shortcomings.