Wellstone and Coburn risked their positions to advance their political values. Cruz is their opposite. He risks his principals to advance his position. I don’t think any senator really believes Ted Cruz is a conviction politician, save for his conviction that he ought to be president.

I know that Cruz and his minions boast that he wears the establishment’s animosity as a badge of honor. But before anyone adds more brushstrokes to Cruz’ self-portrait as a modern day Edmund G. Ross, let me point out that at the heart of colleagues’ contempt for him isn’t their distress at finding themselves confronted by a principled conservative, but their belief that he is an imposter.

He deliberately sets up conservatives to fail by goading them into empty gestures and self-defeating stunts like shutting down government, which make it harder to persuade more Americans to embrace conservative policies. They can’t even be described accurately as Pyrrhic victories. They’re just abject failures.

And Cruz bets on them to fail. He stokes the anger of grassroots conservatives in the hope that it devours everyone but him. He offers false hope and misinformation as a plan, stands defiantly in the imaginary breach, and scurries to blame others for his singular lack of success.