I present you with the strange case of Ted Cruz, a man with an inimitable talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Perhaps not a political victory, but certainly a moral one — and those still count for something, right?
The Texas senator is hated by most of his colleagues, widely blamed for the 2013government shutdown and has proved over and over again to be an anti-gay bigot of the lowest order. Yet when most of the politicians gathered at this year’s Republican National Convention were capitulating to Donald Trump as he was officially coronated as their party’s presidential candidate, Cruz refused to do so.
His reasons were as understandable as they were admirable: Trump had attacked Cruz’s wife for her physical appearance and bizarrely claimed Cruz’s father had been involved in a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. As I wrote at the time (in a piece ironically titled “Some Belated Respect for Ted Cruz”), “he may be punished politically for doing right by his family, but he did so anyway.”
Except then he went ahead and un-did his good deed. Less than three weeks ago, the same Cruz who once insisted that he would not be a “servile puppy dog” and lick Trump’s boots went ahead and did exactly that. Yes, Cruz endorsed Trump for president, declaring “that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.”
This may not have been the most enthusiastic endorsement, but this action is still a far cry from someone’s placing the honor of his father and wife above sordid political ambition. Yesterday he doubled down on this selling of his soul, declaring that he would still back Trump “because I think Hillary Clinton is an absolute disaster.”
Unfortunately for Cruz, this comes at a time when dozens of other Republican leaders are abandoning the Trump ship in droves, inspired to do so mainly by the leaked tape in which he blatantly brags about sexually assaulting women. There probably was never a good time for Cruz to back away from his rare moment of nobility, but it appears that he chose the least fortuitous time to do so — namely, shortly before the rest of the party finally came to its senses.
There is a lesson here somewhere.