Ted Cruz and Politics of Personality
According to some people Sen. Ted Cruz is the worst guy on the planet for not explicitly endorsing Donald Trump at the convention last night. For 23 minutes gathered Republicans applauded Cruz and his remarks, occasionally shuffling with impatience, and finally booing him as he departed, even though he congratulated Trump for being nominated, and urged all to vote Republican in November.
Afterward, the sometimes incoherent Sarah Palin said Cruz is a typical lying politician. In a statement she said Cruz promised to endorse Donald Trump if nominated, then refused to do so last night. Palin went on to say voters will punish Cruz by ending his career. (By morning the Texas delegation cheered him.) She went so far as to liken Cruz to Hillary Clinton by invoking the “what difference does it make” Benghazi remark to characterize Cruz’s attitude. Palin also claimed his failure to endorse shows Cruz is a typical politician, one who “got us into the mess we’re in with America’s bankrupt budgets and ramped up security threats.”
Somehow the failure to endorse leaves Cruz responsible for terrorism and tax-and-spend liberalism? It is felt Palin has been in Trump’s orbit so long, the vitriol has rubbed off, allowing for gross mischaracterizations, known in most circles as ‘lies.’ Palin, who wears her Christianity and her conservatism front and center (as she should) might want to consult Reagan’s 11th commandment, and God’s 9th. (We’d all be wise to remember Christ’s warning that each one of us will be held accountable for every word.)
Ted Cruz faced a Catch 22 last night, one of his own making to an extent. Early in the campaign he allowed himself to be pressured into the pledge to endorse. It should have said he would endorse the Republican platform. Ah, 20/20 hindsight! Faced with the onslaught of Trump’s cruel and totally false attacks on his wife, his children and his father, the usually unflappable Cruz responded with the kind of condemnation ordinarily reserved for our worst enemies. Who can blame him, but with that reaction to Trump, the bind was created: how could he endorse one he had so thoroughly condemned? Cruz was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t, so he chose honorable damnation.
Cruz could not simply boycott the convention, as did so many others. He could not shy away from the tension and the controversy, and he could not buckle to the pressure to violate his conscience, nor could he enthusiastically endorse a man who had so viciously attacked his wife, his children and his father, a candidate who demonstrates no loyalty to ethics or to conservatism.
The path Cruz chose last night was to honor the Party, elevate Party principles, encourage traditional patriotism, urge fidelity to the Constitution, promote liberty, calling upon all voters to vote Republican in November. He could not resoundingly endorse a man he considers thoroughly immoral, (a real challenge for Mike Pence going forward.) Only the unreasonable would expect Cruz to do such a thing.
When it comes to the Trump campaign and this convention, Palin and so many others are seen desperately putting lipstick on the pig, scrambling for five days to pull it off, calling for unity, having destroyed it months ago. Cruz was supposed to play along. He was called upon to compromise his principles like so many others, and prefer the power of personality. He didn’t, understandably. That does not render him the man who does not keep his word so much as the man who stands by principle, no matter what it costs him.
Furthermore, perhaps a few Republicans note the irony of condemning Cruz at this convention, calling him dishonest, complaining politics as usual. Earlier a large number of delegates petitioned to change the rules which might have led to a reconsideration of the entire nomination this year, a legitimate appeal attempted procedurally. Party bosses made sure it never saw the light of day, the rules be hanged. Ethics? Politics as usual?
Perhaps Republicans who live in glass houses should stop throwing stones at Cruz and focus on Hillary Clinton. It will be a tough climb. The electoral college is very unforgiving. Republicans, claiming undying love for individual liberty and allegiance to principle betrayed both this year, in part by condemning Cruz, and in part by elevating Trump, consigning voters to a choice between two evils, candidates who’ve proven only one thing so far: they bring out the worst in others.
Outside the convention hall in Cleveland, protesters and counter-protesters were throwing urine at one another. Inside the hall, it wasn’t much different, except the urine was being thrown in only one direction by Party bosses that want voters to believe the Republican Party stands on principle.
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