Via the Free Beacon, four of the best minutes of his career. I knew Cruz wouldn’t endorse Trump explicitly last night but I expected he’d do it implicitly (“only one party can restore America” or something like that) so that he could argue as needed in 2020 that he both did and didn’t support the nominee. And in a way, he did do that: “Vote your conscience” is a long way from “Never Trump,” especially when you’re saying it to a roomful of screaming Trump supporters.

But under the circumstances, at this febrile political moment, “vote your conscience” may be more provocative than an outright denunciation of Trump would be. Michael Brendan Dougherty superbly states a point Cruz himself makes at the end of the clip below: If your response to an appeal to conscience is to raucously boo, maybe your conscience is trying to tell you something.

Now they will hate him all the more. The Republican apparatchiks will despise Cruz out of their own envy, because he demonstrated the courage to do what they would not: resist Trump to his face. They resist him only through their mealy-mouthed endorsements. They will hate Cruz for making them trash a vote of “conscience” while they defend a Trump candidacy they loathe. Cruz has provoked defense hawks like Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) to denounce him strenuously as “not a true conservative,” on the same night Trump put into question the whole NATO alliance in a tossed-off interview in The New York Times. Cruz has caused Trump’s useful idiots to out and embarrass themselves further.

When you become outraged at a man who encourages you to abide by your conscience, it means your conscience has already condemned you.

“In private conversations here this week before Cruz’s speech,” reports Stephen Hayes, “many Republican officeholders have confessed to me that they wish they could have avoided endorsing Trump.” The boos last night were designed to drown out a voice, all right. But it ain’t Cruz’s.

That’s not an all-purpose explanation, though. Some of the boos doubtless came from true-blue Trump fans who couldn’t tolerate even a minor slight to the great man at his hour of triumph. Kudos to them, I guess, for not physically attacking Cruz or his family, although one state party chair had to be restrained when she saw Cruz after the speech. Heidi Cruz also had to be ushered off the convention floor and away from the mob for her own protection, sparing us the dreary spectacle today of some people inevitably cheering that the bitch got what was coming to her:

Cruz’s wife, Heidi, was seen leaving the arena when the booing started getting very loud. Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told ABC News that he escorted Heidi Cruz out of the convention hall because “it was volatile and the Trump folks were physically approaching and confrontationally yelling,” he said via text.

“People behind her were getting very ugly, and physically approaching her and Raphael, and it was not a pretty situation,” Cuccinelli told ABC. “The decision was instantly made to not talk to media and get immediately out of the arena.”

“People from my own delegation were physically approaching her while yelling at her. So, I physically moved media out of her way, and got in the way of my own delegation so she could clear by and get out of the arena,” he said.

Heidi Cruz is part of Ted’s reason here for not being able to offer an endorsement: How could I support a man, he says, who’d insult my wife? Could you support him if you were in my position? That’s clever politics in that it turns the alpha-male bravado that so many Trump fans prize about him against them. As a matter of simple masculine honor, what kind of cuck would shill for a guy who’d mocked his wife’s looks (and had casually suggested that his father might be involved in the Kennedy assassination, by the way)? What you’re seeing from Cruz here and last night is a reflection of the two core #NeverTrump arguments, one ideological and the other more moral and visceral. Cruz made the ideological argument last night: I can’t support any candidate who doesn’t take the Constitution seriously. He made the moral argument this morning: I can’t support a bad guy. Whether he would have made this second argument if things hadn’t gone sideways last night is an open question. To me, it seems like he’s lurching towards the moral argument now because he senses that the ideological one wasn’t well received, even with his own delegation from Texas. As we’ve learned through bitter experience this year, a lot of Republicans don’t care much about conservative ideals. Everyone, however, can understand the straightforward righteous fury of a husband in defense of his wife. You may see more of this from Cruz if his beating on the right for snubbing Trump is harsher than expected. What was I supposed to do after what Trump said about Heidi, he’ll say? What was he supposed to do?

I’m surprised, by the way, that that’s the only reason Cruz gave here for breaking his pledge. Did he forget that time in March when Trump took a very public dump on the pledge live on CNN? It’s embedded below for your edification. Trump killed the pledge months ago. Cruz was simply following the new rules.