Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Point of Disorder

According to this new article in The Washington Post, Ted Cruz, the Canada-born junior U.S. senator, low-polling presidential contender, and right-wing extremist from Texas, enjoys and actually tries to exploit the intense animosity he has stirred up during the mere two and a half years he’s served on Capitol Hill. A related post by Washington Monthly’s Martin Longman notes that
The piece has the familiar stories. When Cruz filibustered John O. Brennan’s nomination as director of the CIA, fellow Republican Senator John McCain called him “a wacko bird.” Back in August, then-Speaker John Boehner said that he was grateful that Cruz’s presidential ambitions kept “that jackass” out of Washington, D.C., where Cruz is always trying to tell him how to do his job. This past October, [former] President George W. Bush even got into the act, mentioning at a fundraiser for his brother that he just doesn’t like the guy. [Post reporters Katie Zezima and David Weigel] dutifully assemble quotes from several senators and Senate staffers who all seem to agree that Cruz is not a team-player and that he puts his own ambition over any other consideration.

Back in late-September, I noted that Cruz had become more unpopular with his colleagues than any senator since at least the notorious Joe McCarthy. This is not a recipe for being an effective legislator, but Cruz has never aspired to be the next Lion of the Senate.
Reading this put me in mind of a vintage mystery novel that might’ve been titled with the loathsome Cruz in mind: The Case of the Hated Senator, by Margaret Scherf. Published by Ace Books in 1954, and part of a “double novel” set that featured Gordon Ashe’s Drop Dead! on its reverse side, The Case of the Hated Senator was actually this tale’s second title. It had originally been published in 1953 by Doubleday/Crime Club as Dead: Senate Office Building. A short review on the Goodreads site offers this rather cryptic plot synopsis:
Frank Scott is a much reviled senator who has mysteriously disappeared. Milo works for a small New York trucking company summers to pay his college tuition. When he finds that the safe he picked up for shipment to the senator’s Washington office should not have been as heavy as he found it, he gets an idea. Perhaps meeting Athalie, the petite blonde daughter of one of Scott’s enemies, has inspired him? The ending is a little flat, and there's less of Scherf's trade-mark humor in this book.
Responsibility for the art fronting The Case of the Hated Senator goes to Puerto Rico native Rafael de Soto (1904-1992), more of whose illustrations can be appreciated here. If you’re not familiar with prolific author Scherf (1908-1979), check out this brief online bio, or perhaps this one about her trio of juvenile mysteries.

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