There is something to the idea of political karma. The politician most reviled by his colleagues for painting them as sellouts and who struts around with an air of superiority is now caught in a web of inconsistencies and downright misrepresentations on foreign policy and his favorite issue, “amnesty.”

On foreign policy, it has not escaped notice that by zigzagging between dog whistles for the followers of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and trying to mimic Donald Trump’s tough talk, he’s created a foreign policy that “is part isolationist, part realist and part pipe dream,” as my colleague Michael Gerson puts it. At least Paul believes what he says. For Cruz, his choice of position neatly and consistently coincides with whatever he figures the talk show crowd wants to hear. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the wittiest and bluntest of the 2016 contenders, observed, “Ted Cruz’s carpet-bombing comments made no sense, and I’ve been in the Air Force for 33 years. I think that Ted Cruz is a man who is lost. He is trying to be an isolationist when that’s hot; he’s trying to be a Lindsey Graham-type when that’s hot.”

But it is on immigration — where Cruz has vilified any responsible voice favoring reform and stirred up the party’s worst xenophobic tendencies — that things finally may have come home to roost.

In a devastating interview with Bret Baier on Fox, Cruz — who denied ever backing legalization — was trapped by a video of himself from 2013. Baier made him squirm by playing the old video, wherein Cruz pushed for an amendment to provide for a path to legalization, not citizenship. “I don’t want immigration reform to fail,” Cruz said in 2013. “I want immigration reform to pass. and so I would urge people of good faith on both sides of the aisle, if the objective is to pass common-sense immigration reform that secures the borders, that improves legal immigration and allows those illegally to come in out of the shadows, we should look for areas of bipartisan agreement and compromise to come together.” It went on from there:

BAIER: Yahoo dug up these quotes, saying if this amendment were to pass, the chance of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically, a few weeks later during a debate on the senate floor Cruz repeated his belief that this amendment is the compromise that can pass, and repeated later in Princeton that if my amendment were adopted, this bill would pass. It sounds like you wanted the bill to pass.
CRUZ: Of course I wanted the bill to pass, my amendment to pass.
BAIER: You said the bill.

When Cruz protested that is was a poison-pill amendment, Baier countered: “The problem is at the time you were telling people like Byron York with the Washington Examiner that this was not a poison pill. You said my objective is not to kill immigration reform. My question to you is, looking back at what you said then and what you are saying now, which one should people believe?” You are not in a good spot when you are forced to answer if you were fooling the rubes then or now. From there Cruz sputtered on (“I introduced five amendments, a whole series of amendments, they illustrated the hypocrisy of the Democrats.”) As hard as he twisted and turned, Baier’s hook had snagged him.

The Texas Tribune, meanwhile, recounted a similar sequence of events, with a jaw-dropping quote Cruz gave the paper back then:

In the summer of 2013, as Congress was mulling sweeping immigration reforms, Cruz was promoting a “middle ground” that would have dramatically boosted legal immigration and even given legal status and work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the country.
“If the proponents of this bill actually demonstrate a commitment not to politics, not to campaigning all the time, but to actually fixing this problem, to finding a middle ground, that would fix the problem and also allow for those 11 million people who are here illegally a legal status with citizenship off the table,” Cruz said on the floor of the Senate in June 2013. “I believe that is the compromise that can pass.”
Later, in an extensive interview with The Texas Tribune, Cruz expressed frustration that the media wasn’t covering his efforts to fix the nation’s immigration woes because it didn’t “fit the narrative they’re writing, which is Republicans are anti-immigrant.”
“There was no stronger advocate of legal immigration in the Senate than I am,” Cruz told the Tribune. “We’re all the children of immigrants. I think that is the fundamental DNA of America.”

That is not what the talk radio crowd and the rest of the anti-immigration-reform crowd want to hear. If Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was trying to drive a wedge between Cruz and the Trump base, he might have succeeded. Even more significant, several prominent conservative journalists noted he had been exposed for blatant dishonesty. As Fox’s Megyn Kelly put it, “So it is not true that Senator Cruz has never supported legalization. Not citizenship but he has supported legalization. . . . We fact checked him on that last night with Brit Hume right here. He has, he did, he is on the record repeatedly back in 2013 supporting legalization for the 11 million.”

Cruz thinks he is the smartest guy in every room. Sometimes he is. However, it was a mistake to think he could so easily leap from one position to another without being nailed for hypocrisy or inconsistency, or both. Rubio has been pounding away at these themes for a few weeks, but now that they have spread across conservative and mainstream media, Cruz will face persistent scrutiny, just as the voters in Iowa are making their final decisions.