Say what? Ted Cruz just became the GOP’s last best hope for stopping Donald Trump, and they want him to apologize for his Senate actions? Er … don’t hold your breath:
Republican senators said that Cruz must return to Capitol Hill and make the case directly to his colleagues to help ease long-festering tensions. And a large number of Republicans said the fence-mending starts with this: Apologizing to McConnell for calling him a liar last year on the floor of the Senate.
That message — to smooth things over with Senate Republicans in a private session — was personally delivered by fellow Texan and McConnell’s chief deputy, Sen. John Cornyn, who spoke with Cruz by phone after the candidate won their home state’s primary earlier this month.
“I actually made that suggestion to him when I talked to him last,” Cornyn said when asked if he thought Cruz should apologize for his McConnell remarks. (A spokesman later said that Cornyn did not seek an apology but urged Cruz to speak directly to the Senate GOP Conference.)
Others had similar suggestions for Cruz.
“I think he’s got some bridges to build here,” said Sen. John Thune, the No. 3 Senate Republican. “I think it would be helpful obviously for him — if he thinks he is going to be the guy or wants to be the guy — to come back here to mend some of those fences that he tore down when he was here.”
Oh, please. Mitch McConnell’s feelings should be the last concern on the minds of Republicans at the moment. Cruz may have been out of line at the time, but we’re way beyond that now. There may be legitimate concerns on policy or appointments, but the bruises on individual egos are hardly germane to the presidential nomination.
In fact, one major reason that Cruz is in position as the last man standing with a legitimate opening to challenge Donald Trump is because he fought the Senate Republican establishment in Washington. Marco Rubio offered both better opportunity to expand the map and the demographics and offered a more optimistic vision, but Rubio worked with McConnell and GOP leadership, especially on immigration — and got roasted for it. Going back to the Senate to kiss McConnell’s ring now would put a stake through the heart of Cruz’ legitimate claim to have experience in what Trump promises to do in shaking up Washington DC.
It’s rather amazing that the Senators quoted on the record in this article still don’t understand that. Perhaps they feel misunderstood; perhaps they have a legitimate gripe in doing so. Regardless, voters are frustrated with their lack of progress on promises Republicans have made, some of them irresponsible promises for impossible goals, such as repealing or defunding ObamaCare with Obama in office (and Cruz shares responsibility for that promise), and they want a disruptor to push the GOP into a stronger fighting stance. Trump talks of nothing but fighting an incompetent and corrupt Washington establishment, and Cruz has to match that to co-opt convertible Trump voters between now and the convention to deny him the nomination.
Apologizing now for fighting then is the surest way to the primary scrap heap. Cruz knows it, and Senate Republicans had better figure it out. Unless, of course, they’d prefer to have Donald Trump bypassing them in order to make deals with Democrats, or Hillary Clinton making Senate Republicans totally irrelevant.
I’d put this apology request on par with Kevin Kline’s from A Fish Called Wanda: