Is Sen. Ted Cruz’s political career over? Come 2018, as “Saturday Night Live” perfectly imagined back in May, will we all have forgotten he was ever a major political contender? Did Donald Trump end Ted Cruz?
That’s the argument made by my colleague over at The Week, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, in a new column out today:
It’s possible to tell the story of Ted Cruz’s now defunct political career as a tragedy, but really it would be more accurate to tell it as a farce. John Boehner once famously described Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh.” But Ted Cruz is not the Devil, nor is he a witch. He’s just a joke. […]
[E]ven as the entire GOP was prostrating itself against its orange invader, Donald Trump, Cruz was one of the few who refused to bow down. He called Trump a “sniveling coward” and “utterly amoral.” After all, Trump had gone after his wife, and accused his father of complicity in Kennedy’s assassination. At that moment, Ted Cruz was the most honorable Republican in America. A positive Braveheart. The leader in waiting of the Resistance against Trump. The leader in waiting, maybe, of a post-Trump GOP.
But then, Ted Cruz ended up endorsing Trump anyway. According to Ben Domenech, Cruz did this out of sheer political cowardice: His donors were angry with him and threatening to support a primary challenger against him. Cruz even went phone-banking for Trump, looking like the saddest man in the world. As always, the only way Trump can take your dignity is if you give it to him.
Read the full piece here.
Now, I can’t quite share Gobry’s schadenfreude, though I remain very proud of this tweet I made right after Cruz’s endorsement of Trump was announced:
It was just so perfect. The orange king who is obsessed with gold — come on!
Still on the subject of Cruz, I’m not sure I’m convinced it’s over. As Gobry himself writes, Cruz is nothing if not a smart and wily politician.
I don’t mean that as a compliment. After all, this is a man who will mercilessly throw persecuted Mideast Christians under the bus if he thinks it will help his career. Even his interactions with his family—his wife stays on script, but you can’t make political operatives out of charming little girls—suggest they are first tools of his success and only second loved ones.
In short, if anyone can figure out how to worm his way back into voters’ hearts, it’s Ted Cruz.
That’s a shame, because Cruz should not be a national figure any longer. This endorsement embarrassment ought to be the nail in a coffin full of evidence that he is not the trustworthy, pro-liberty candidate he makes himself out to be.
Besides the persecuted Christians debacle (which really was appalling, and was confirmation for me that the wariness I had of Cruz since his initial Senate run was amply justified), Cruz has time and again showed himself to be principled only insofar as he thinks it will help him—which is to say, not at all.
He pretends to be a political outsider when his résumé shows he is anything but. He has demonstrated himself more war hawk than fiscal hawk. He has betrayed the civil liberties he once claimed to defend. And he even markets himself as a Christian candidate while failing to personally tithe.
It remains to be seen whether Trump ended Cruz’s political career as a national contender. But if he did, that would be far from the worst thing to come out of the Trump campaign.