Why criticizing Ted Cruz seldom works

Cruz has long had tough words for his rivals and critics alike, but he is now incredibly comfortable taking his shots. He had to calibrate in Iowa, where Midwest gentility demanded he smile and seem the model of Christian manners. In New Hampshire, voters have a greater appetite for the pique, and next-up South Carolina rewards the broadest swings.

The 2016 campaign is still in its infancy, but it’s clear Cruz is in his adolescence. His laugh lines are often at rivals’ expenses, and his talent at rendering his opponents unacceptable matched only by Trump. Where Barack Obama was a once-a-generation figure who inspired his fans, Cruz might be a similar talent who can make his legions sneer.

It might work. Cruz is rumbling through New Hampshire with a swagger that befits a front-runner. He is packing churches, school auditoriums and small businesses. Rivals covet these crowds, who, at least anecdotally, are committed Cruz supporters in a state where many voters remain undecided.