The standard, stirring bootstrap story Ted Cruz tells about himself goes something like this: His father arrived in America from Cuba with nothing but $100 sewn into his underwear; he went to Princeton and then Harvard Law School; he clerked for the chief justice of the United States, repeatedly argued before the Supreme Court; he served as Texas solicitor general for seven years, and 10 months ago, Texans sent him to the U.S. Senate.
It's a compelling story, but it leaves out so many other good stories, so here, in splendid listicle form, are eight things you probably don’t know about Cruz, the quick-tweeting Tea Party darling who has brought the Republican Party to its knees.
1. He had a role in Bill Clinton's impeachment
Working for Charles Cooper, a partner at a conservative law firm in Washington, Cruz drafted arguments showing that Clinton's missteps qualified as exactly the sort of "high crimes and misdemeanors" the Founding Fathers had in mind as grounds for impeachment.
2. He doesn't cotton to squishes
Cruz helped kill Senate legislation earlier this year that, in the wake of the massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., would have expanded background checks on gun buyers. Cruz said he would filibuster any bill that would restrict gun sales in any way and taunted Republicans who backed the bill, calling them "squishes."
3. He's an author
Cruz contributed a chapter to Thank You, President Bush, a little-read 2004 book designed to rebut "Bush-haters who seek nothing but to distort his ongoing record of achievement" and portray George W. as "one of the nation’s great presidents." Cruz’s essay is titled "The Rise of Opportunity Conservatism," an infelicitous phrase he likes so much he is urging Republicans to embrace "opportunity conservatism" as a way to win the 2016 presidential election.
4. His wife makes rich Texans richer
Not a lot has been written about Cruz's wife, Heidi Nelson Cruz, who works as a vice president in Goldman Sachs's Houston office, managing investments for super-rich clients. Heidi Cruz, who lives with Cruz and their two young daughters, Caroline and Catherine, in Houston, has an MBA from Harvard Business School. She worked on George W.'s first presidential campaign and held posts in W's first administration. She also wrote a Thank You, President Bush chapter, "Expanding Opportunity Through Free Trade."
5. He speaks in stump speeches
He often lapses into a stump speech to avoid awkward questions. "We sat together in the back seat of a car," reported a Weekly Standard profile writer. "He spoke of his father again. He mentioned the great divide in America, again, and was quoting Margaret Thatcher when I realized he was giving a speech again, except this time at close quarters, only a few feet away, in the back seat of a car." So that’s why he kept talking and talking and talking in the Senate.
6. He's a creative conspiracy theorist
Cruz believes Agenda 21, a non-binding 1992 United Nations document on sustainable development endorsed by that well-known radical, President George H.W. Bush, is a sinister "globalist plan that tries to subvert the U.S. Constitution and the liberties we all cherish as Americans." He accuses U.N. plotters of aiming to abolish "golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads" and fingers George Soros, a billionaire funder of liberal causes, as the puppet-master behind the plan.
7. He favors very, very harsh penalties for stealing calculators
Cruz doesn't talk much about the case of Michael Haley, erroneously sentenced to 14 years in prison for stealing a calculator from Walmart when the maximum sentence was two years. Acknowledging the longer sentence was an error, Cruz nevertheless argued before the Supreme Court that Haley should serve the full 14 years, a position that prompted Justice John Paul Stevens to wonder whether the "state has forgotten its overriding 'obligation to serve the cause of justice.' " The court sent the case back to the lower court, which freed Haley.
8. His Dad is a Former Castro Commie Who Hates Obamacare
If you think Ted Cruz hates Obamacare, you haven't met his father, Rafael, 74, who happily fought alongside Fidel Castro as a teen and runs a ministry in the Dallas area. Earlier this month, the elder Cruz warned that Obamacare "rationed" care for the elderly, determined through a cost-benefit analysis by bureaucrats, and provided older Americans with mandatory suicide counseling. "One of the things in Obamacare is that for the elderly, every five years you must have end-of-life counseling," he recently said at a dinner event near Denver.