There’s no sense at all that NR or conservatives in general care even slightly about whether the attacks were “bogus” or not. No sense at all that Cruz’s attacks needed to be defended or justified. All that’s important is that “liberal” critics (which basically means anyone who isn’t 100% on board with movement conservatives) found fault with Cruz: that alone is, Stiles says, good enough for conservatives.
I think Stiles is basically correct in his reporting. And if so, you can’t really paint a sadder picture of where these “conservatives” are right now.
What I find curious about the favorable movement conservative reaction to Cruz’s behavior last week is that there seems to be no awareness of how discrediting his performance was. Bluntness and combativeness can be perfectly appropriate, and there’s nothing wrong in taking a strong position on a given policy, but there’s no virtue in asking idiotic questions. The fact that many movement conservatives think that he did an excellent job speaks volumes about their definition of competence, and it isn’t flattering. There are many ways to describe Cruz’s questioning, but the word that seems most appropriate is trivial. Whether it was his lame attempt to hold Hagel responsible for Chas Freeman’s views or his dishonest description of Hagel’s statement on the 2006 war in Lebanon, he distinguished himself by wasting his time, distorting the facts, and asking questions that didn’t matter in the least.