- Getty Images/Joe Raedle
Has any losing political candidate ever deserved his humiliation as richly as Ted Cruz does?
Donald Trump crushed Cruz in Tuesday’s Indiana primary, and in doing so he crushed Cruz’s last, slim hopes of winning the Republican nomination, as Cruz would go on to drop out of the race on Tuesday.
This situation is especially pathetic for Cruz because he spent the first six months of this campaign nakedly sucking up to Trump, proclaiming him “terrific” and “brash” and saying that he “speaks the truth” – and because Trump has thanked him by unleashing baseless and bizarre personal attacks on Cruz and his family, most recently claiming Cruz’s father was somehow linked to President John F. Kennedy’s assassin.
As we know now, Cruz’s praise was part of a cynical strategy to ingratiate himself with Trump’s supporters, in hopes that they would shift to him after a Trump flameout. Cruz told the Christian Broadcasting Network in March that he refrained from attacking Trump early on because he was afraid that Trump’s attacks would hurt him like they hurt other candidates.
But the cynicism for which Cruz deserves his punishment goes back further than the start of the campaign.
Trump preys on the penchant for unserious thinking in the Republican electorate. But before him, so did Ted Cruz.
Trump tells Republicans that Mexico will pay for the border wall; Cruz tells Republicans he can abolish the IRS. Trump says he can cut taxes $10 trillion and without entitlement cuts because he’ll “make us so rich”; Cruz said a government shutdown strategy could force President Barack Obama to undo Obamacare.
The Republican Party descent into a reality-distortion field, in which validating institutions are ignored and the truth doesn’t matter, enabled Cruz’s rise before it enabled Trump’s. Cruz was killed by the machine he helped to build. He did not realize the danger until far too late.
On Tuesday morning, we finally got to see what I think is the real Ted Cruz, unloading on Donald Trump after the JFK-assassination flap. But the most revealing part of Cruz’s criticism of Trump was how he prefaced it.
“I’m going to do something I haven’t done for the entire campaign,” he said. “I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump.”
In other words: I’m finally going to stop lying to you.
As Cruz’s “running mate,” Carly Fiorina, once said, Cruz “says whatever he needs to say to get elected.” For a while, he thought that what he needed to say was dishonest praise of Donald Trump.
Now that he knows he cannot win no matter what he says, he is finally free to tell the truth.