July 22, 2016
The big news of the day: Ted Cruz declined to endorse Donald Trump. Instead, he used his RNC address to deliver an extended passive-aggressive slight. Cruz urged delegates to “vote your conscience,” a rather strange phrase coming from a man who doesn”t appear to have one.
Two years ago, I wrote about how Ted Cruz was the sleaziest politician this side of Bill Clinton. Last night he vindicated every uncharitable thought I”ve ever had toward him. His refusal to endorse Trump explicitly violates the terms of the loyalty pledge specifically designed to hedge Trump in. In short, Cruz respects the democratic process…at least until he loses.
Convention attendees weren”t fans of Cruz’s speech. Some had to be physically restrained from assaulting him. One site reported that he lost 25% of his Facebook following. His wife, Heidi, was escorted out of the building by security while attendees yelled, “Goldman Sachs!” at her. Donors openly called Cruz a “disgrace“ to his face, and he was forbidden from entering Sheldon Adelson’s suite. The Donald was his usually low-key and laid-back self, noting that Ted got booed off the stage and that the whole thing was not a big deal.
The speech itself was a sort of bizarre inversion of Pat Buchanan’s culture-war speech from 1992. Cruz neither secured himself as a permanent fixture in the party nor gave voice to a defeated faction. Instead, he hogged the spotlight, dripping smug arrogance over the proceedings and mocking the New York delegation when the whole room began drowning him out with chants of “Say his name” and “We want Trump.” “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation,” Cruz said, smirking, drawing intensified booing.
Cruz attempted to use the speech to kick off his 2020 campaign, which he says he will do whether Trump wins or not. So he threw chum to the odd philosophy of “true conservatism,” a strange civic religion that views America’s founders in quasi-messianic terms. If you”re interested in the particulars, spend some time poking around The Blaze, if you can stomach it. Indeed, the speech resembled a sort of litany from the Evangelical Constitutionalism of Cruzbekistan. Cruz hit on guns, the Supreme Court, and Obamacare, but also Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Act, and even gay rights, all of which are retconned as “true conservatism.” The word “freedom” appeared 21 times.
The next day, Cruz gave a speech to the Texas delegation. He didn”t walk back his damning with faint praise, but attempted to talk out of both sides of his mouth, as is his habit. Cruz spoke repeatedly of the “principles” his movement embodies, saying they were the only way to defeat Hillary Clinton. How these principles”which mostly involve losing to liberals with smug self-satisfaction”will win a general election when they can”t even win a Republican primary is unclear. But again, none of this matters, because the point isn”t to win, it’s to allow supporters to pat themselves on the back for losing with decorum.
Cruz got down to brass tacks when he said, “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.” This might be easier to believe if Cruz didn”t appear to be the type of person who would sell his family to organ harvesters if he thought it would further his career. A fund-raising appeal went out from what remains of the Cruz campaign almost immediately.