It isn’t presidential to shut down the government for no reason, and it isn’t smart to call those refusing to do so the “surrender caucus.” So it makes perfect sense that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) would try to deny using that term. However, as Byron York points out, Cruz is not telling the truth. York writes: “Cruz could not have been clearer: He did not use ‘surrender caucus’ to describe Republican opponents in the defunding debate. But go back just a few days, to July 25, when Cruz appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio program.” Inexplicably, a staffer called York later to say, well, he “never directly criticized one of his colleagues.” Huh? It sounds like he’s getting staff advice from the office that hired the Southern Avenger.

Ted Cruz Sen. Ted Cruz (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA)

The problem with acting like a freshman loudmouth is that you can get caught acting like a freshman loudmouth. And then you get embarrassed. And then you make stuff up.

You have to wonder why Cruz is already scrambling away from his rhetoric. Was he slapped down or reminded he offended his colleagues for the umpteenth time? We can imagine what comes next from him:

I never stood with Rand Paul on anti-terrorism.

I never tried to stop the only legislative  vehicle available for increasing border security.

I never screwed up a principled attack on Chuck Hagel by accusing him of taking money from the North Koreans.

Well those would all be untruths. His actual record (of all three) is far more embarrassing in the long run than getting caught insulting his colleagues. In time I suspect these items will be inconvenient episodes in a rocky freshman year.

The Senate gives undisciplined pols a false sense of security. On one hand they aren’t responsible for anything and have unlimited time to talk and to take to the airwaves to blather on any subject. They have six years before they have to face the voters. They get a whole lot of attention from media, and the more outlandish the more attention they get.

And yet, their votes and rhetoric do create a trail, making it extremely difficult — even for substantive men and women with distinguished records (which Cruz is not) — to go beyond the Senate. It’s a good gig in some ways, but it is also a trap for the unwary ideologue.