Sen. Ted Cruz leaves a Republican Senate caucus meeting at...

Sen. Ted Cruz leaves a Republican Senate caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Sept. 30, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz is right about this point: He is no moderate.

The Texas Republican emphasized that he was not a centrist when he met with The Dallas Morning News's editorial board last year. By gosh, he was right.

Cruz is, naturally, entitled to his views. But, apparently, the freshman hasn't learned that his colleagues - by this, I mean fellow GOP senators - are entitled to their own. His quasi-filibuster last week was his way of bullying Republican senators into his ill-conceived strategy of defunding the Affordable Care Act while securing his place in the tea party nation.

His political intimidation actually has a positive aspect. Cruz is getting closer to becoming the textbook example of what a senator should not be. "Pulling a Cruz" may become shorthand for how not to govern. If he does self-destruct, which is where I think he is headed, our politics may have turned a corner.

Leaders who come to Washington or a statehouse with Cruz's I'm right/you're wrong attitude may have to start watching out. Their own partisans may no longer tolerate them.

That certainly is happening with the junior senator from Texas. The pushback to his posturing style is largely coming from fellow Republican senators.

John McCain quickly took to the Senate floor to denounce Cruz's assertion that GOP colleagues who did not support his complicated strategy for defunding Obamacare were essentially akin to those who tried to appease Hitler.

McCain was not the only Republican putting distance between himself and Cruz. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker also spoke out about his tactics. And, interestingly, two fellow Texas Republicans - Sen. John Cornyn and Gov. Rick Perry - broke with their colleague over his Senate showdown.

Mind you, each of these Republicans wants to end Obamacare. But they didn't see the wisdom in Cruz's kamikaze mission, as the Wall Street Journal called it.

All this is good. Some Republicans are starting to encircle a bully - one of the most encouraging developments on Capitol Hill in some time.

Of course, the tea party faithful do not see it that way. They like Cruz's singular approach to governing. And they are drawing strength from seeing their lion whipped back. They feel emboldened.

But the tea party is not necessarily one and the same with the GOP. Sooner than later, limited-government Republicans need a confrontational moment like this with the tea party.

Both sides believe - rightly - in curbing federal intrusion into American's lives. But there is a difference between hating government and limiting it. Mainstream Republicans need to make sure they don't get saddled with the hating-government image.

If they do, they could start to self-destruct, along with Cruz.

As much as there is frustration with federal power these days, most Americans see the need for it and take a more practical view toward Washington. Basically, they want our leaders to solve problems, such as overhauling the tax code.

Cruz does not exactly fit the problem-solving mode. And the more he moves out on the ledge, the more marginal he and his approach will become.

He is not there yet, I readily admit. Cruz rallied House conservatives over the weekend to pass a two-fer measure that would postpone implementation of Obamacare for a year while allowing the government to keep its doors open for two more months.

But the Senate, as predicted, knocked that idea down Monday. So, here we are, still in limbo.

How this plays out, I don't know. President Barack Obama is not showing much leadership, either. The onetime law school instructor has lapsed into his professor/lecturer mode once more.

Cruz, though, is the one really providing the teaching moment. He has shown that an immoderate philosophy and pugilist political style are good only for blowing things up, not solving problems. The fact that some in his party are countering him is encouraging, very encouraging.

William McKenzie is an editorial columnist for The Dallas Morning News.


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