Skip to 3:00 of the first clip, as that’s when things really start hopping. Actual line: “We are looking, potentially, at the Biff Tannen presidency.” And to think, Cruz fans feared they wouldn’t have anything to feel good about today.
I doubt he would have reacted this way if he was looking at a win in Indiana tonight or if Trump hadn’t gone full crank on him this morning but the combination of the two seems to have finally lit the fuse on his frustration. The circumstances are almost identical to the circumstances when Rubio gave his own lengthy indictment of Trump at a press gaggle before Florida: Both candidates were staring at losses that would effectively end their campaigns, so neither of them had any remaining reason to hold back. Although … there is one big difference between them, isn’t there? Rubio never said anything like this:
The Establishment's only hope: Trump & me in a cage match.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 11, 2015
I saw a lot of reminders of the old Trump/Cruz bromance on conservative social media today (especially from Rubio fans, natch) while Cruz was delivering this harangue. Everything he says here was just as true of Trump last year as it is now, but he made a deal with the devil when he decided that buddying up to Trump on the assumption that he’d fade would pay off for him politically. As it is, this tirade is destined to smell like sour grapes to everyone but core Cruz fans even though I’d bet cash money it represents Cruz’s honest opinion of Trump since the beginning. Be fair, though, Rubio fans: If Cruz had gone kamikaze on Trump last year, hammering him as King RINO from the beginning, is there a shred of evidence to think Trump, rather than Cruz himself, would have suffered for it? (Also, what was Rubio doing during those long summer/fall/winter months when the GOP was crying out for a wrecking ball against Trump?) The shining lesson of the primary, as David Frum put it this morning, is that “true conservatives” are a “pitiful minority” of the party. Cruz’s decision to play up his populist sympathies by embracing Trump rather than his conservative credentials by unloading on him seems like the wiser move in hindsight, as unpalatable as it was to Trump critics. He made a bet that, when push came to shove, Republican voters would. not. seriously. nominate. this. guy. He got further than any other candidate did with that strategy, but in the end he overestimated them. Didn’t we all.
And now comes the inevitable. I don’t mean Cruz losing, although that certainly seems inevitable. I mean Cruz endorsing Trump:
Cruz last year: Trump is terrific #dealwithit
Cruz now: Trump is pathological, immoral.
Cruz in a few weeks: Time to put division behind us
— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) May 3, 2016
That’s one more thing Rubio and Cruz have in common. Both of them, having delivered a cri de coeur about why Trump is totally unfit for office, will meekly turned around and support him in the general in the name of preserving their electoral viability in the future. That’s pitiful, but that’s why prudent people shouldn’t form cults of personality around politicians like the one that now surrounds Trump. In the end, nearly all pols will disappoint you by putting personal ambition ahead of principles. Sorry, #NeverTrumpers.