Via RCP. My headline’s misleading, as I’ll explain in a sec, but it does capture the newsiest soundbite from this clip. Standard operating procedure when a politician’s caught in a sex scandal is for his close allies to rally around him. It was a regrettable lapse, he has much to atone for, but we all make mistakes and in the end it’s a private matter — you know how the script goes. Beck’s having none of that. If Cruz is guilty of what the National Enquirer’s accused him of, he says, I’m done. I heard that sentiment repeatedly from Cruz fans on social media this weekend. This is a campaign-killer if it can be proved, and Beck abandoning Cruz would be a perfect way to start the avalanche. Remember, Beck hasn’t merely been Cruz’s most vocal supporter in conservative media; he’s talked about him increasingly as someone divinely ordained for the job. A Cruz cheating scandal would betray what his supporters expect of him morally in a way that a Clinton sex scandal, say, never would. There’s no coming back from it.
What makes the headline (a little) misleading is that Beck doesn’t believe the accusations. This clip is 10 minutes, in fact, of Beck making the case for why the Enquirer story is almost certainly false, and he only gets through three of the five reasons he has for doubting before he’s forced to cut to commercial. All of them are familiar to you: Cruz is too nerdy to pull it off; he’s too ambitious to be that reckless; and there just isn’t any evidence from people who know him best to support it. Erica Grieder, an editor at Texas Monthly who’s been covering Cruz since before he joined the Senate, emphasized the last point on Friday in a series of tweets. How is it, she wondered, that the most hated man in the Senate, who’s had reporters sniffing around him for four solid years, has managed to keep his extracurriculars a secret from journalists and oppo researchers?
Forget about the primaries. If Cruz were a serial cheater, don’t you think word would have gotten around to Senate Republicans long ago? And once it did, do you think Mitch McConnell and company would have sat on that dirt for month after month, letting candidates like Marco Rubio to whom they’re well disposed twist in the wind? They would have killed Cruz with this ages ago to clear a path for Rubio or some more palatable conservative alternative. Or they would have leaked it before the primaries in the hope that Cruz would be so wrecked by it that he’d be forced out of the Senate. Too many people would benefit from ending Cruz’s political career for me to believe that there’s hard evidence out there that somehow hasn’t made its way into the media yet.