Ted Cruz emerges as a “dazzling orator” with a penchant for humble bragging (or just plain bragging) in Jason Zengerle’s 10,000-word profile of Texas’s junior senator in the pages of GQ. Cruz boasts both a sterling resume—which he “wears like a sandwich board”—and an artfully delivered personal story “so singular that it verges on the novelistic,” Zengerle finds. He’s been able to deploy both to his advantage.

But Cruz’s ego seems to be so outsized it has frustrated both classmates and colleagues along the way, in Zengerle’s telling. Some nuggets:

  • One of his law school roommates told Zengerle that Cruz didn’t open his study circle to people unless they went to Harvard, Princeton, or Yale. “He said he didn’t want anybody from ‘minor Ivies’ like Penn or Brown,” the former roommate said. (For what it’s worth, this roommate doesn’t seem to have near as much antipathy towards Cruz as one of his college roommates, who told the Daily Beast in August “I would rather have anybody else be the president of the United States. Anyone. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book.”)
  • While working for the 2000 Bush campaign, he sent out “regular updates on his accomplishments that one recipient likened to ‘the cards people send about their families at Christmas, except Ted’s were only about him and were more frequent.'”

The piece is also full of rich details—and Zengerle’s interpretation of their significance—about Cruz’s favorite office tchotchkes. There’s the copy of a sign that used to sit on Reagan’s desk at the White House bearing the words “IT CAN BE DONE.” There’s the cap with the picture of Daffy Duck and the words WACKO BIRD given to him by some of his constituents after McCain bestowed that moniker onto him. And then there’s the large oil painting of Cruz delivering his first oral arguments at the Supreme Court. “It is helpful,” he told Zengerle,”for keeping one grounded.”

He hasn’t let Washington change him or weaken his resolve yet, as illustrated by the following quote, probably the best Cruz quote of the piece:

“I cannot tell you,” Cruz says now, “how many little old ladies clasped my shoulder and said, ‘Ted, please don’t go to Washington and become one of them.'”
The little old ladies of Texas ought to be doing cartwheels. Instead of becoming one of them, Cruz has scorched almost all of them.
AP Photo | J. Scott Applewhite