Rubio and Cruz: A contrast in leadership

This is the main reason, according to my conversations with top Capitol Hill Republicans, that Cruz is so intensely disliked. Those who had been in the trenches fighting Obamacare were accused of selling out by a transparently self-serving latecomer.

But the problem for Republicans was more than hurt feelings. President Obama found it easy to exploit the chaos Cruz created, making the Republican majority look simultaneously weak and radical. A paralyzed caucus proved unable to offer a positive agenda. Cruz was deceptive in a way that benefited himself and was bound to hurt the conservative cause.

This is not the first time a senator has grandstanded at the expense of his colleagues. But it is a measure of political character when such grandstanding is elevated to strategy, involves untruths and undermines conservative goals. Cruz has shown the ability to effectively motivate one-third of the Republican base with these niche marketing tactics. He has yet to show a talent for uniting the entire GOP (and a slice of independents) against the Democrats.