Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Humiliation Of Ted Cruz, Mike Pence, The Republican Party-- While The Demented Donald Laughs At America


The superficially crafted messaging of the Republican convention has been stepped on and obliterated every day. But Hillary better not feel powerful for having had anything to do with it. It's all Trump and his incompetent, deranged micro-campaign that's causing all the seemingly self-destructive chaos. Trump lifted those plagiarized passages from Michelle Obama's speech and put them into Melania's address and ate up two-and-a-half days of headlines that might have gone to republican messaging. Trump lured Ted Cruz into an untenable position last night, overshadowing, Mike Pence's introduction to the nation as the two squared off in some kind of an alternative universe 2020 preview.

I'm not Ted Cruz fan, but you almost feel sorry for the guy. Trump had originally said that unless his former rivals endorsed him in advance, they wouldn't get convention speaking slots. It kind of worked on sweaty, wormy Rubio but Ted Cruz-- who was not going to humiliate himself by publicly fellating the man who denigrated him and his family so violently-- well that turned into the kind of chaos Trump loves to spark and then take advantage of. Cruz decided to address the convention-- packed with really dumb Trump supporters-- without endorsing the legitimate party nominee. Trump was waiting for him, with a well-coordinated whip plan for strategic booing and camera-chaos. This is what America woke up to this morning:

David Frum referred to what Cruz did last night as "his brave and noble act" and I tend to see it similarly-- with reservations. Many others put Cruz in a far less heroic light-- even as a backstabber. Patricia Murphy at Roll Call: Having already identified Trump "a narcissist and a pathological liar," Cruz "exacted his revenge and refused to endorse Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention meant to unify GOP support behind his nomination." Politico noted that "Boos rained down on Cruz, and his wife had to be escorted from the hall amid verbal taunts in an unreal scene that marked an end to a surreal primary season."
“We deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love,” Cruz said. “That is the standard we should expect from everybody.”

It was a standard that Cruz determined Trump did not meet.

“Don’t stay home in November,” Cruz told the audience. “Stand and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

But he wouldn’t say Trump’s name.

In doing so, Cruz handed Hillary Clinton and the Democrats a potentially devastating cudgel of a slogan-- “vote your conscience”-- with which to hammer Trump all the way through November. Clinton grabbed it immediately, tweeting the phrase and a link to a voter registration page.

So... yes, Cruz kicked off his 2020 election campaign-- probably against Hillary, in the GOP's alternative universe, against President Gas. Byron York pointed out Cruz is taking a big gamble with his political future. "No one," he correctly asserted, "will know whether he won or lost until a few years from now... The upside of Cruz's gamble is that in one brief appearance, he won the intensified support of those Republicans who cannot reconcile themselves to Trump. And, if Trump goes down to defeat in November-- and it's safe to say everyone in that group believes he will-- Cruz will have serious I-told-you-so cred. Then, the theory goes, he will be in a strong position to put the party back together and run in 2020.
The scene irritated the still-raw feelings of some veterans of the 2016 GOP race. Veteran Republican strategist Curt Anderson, who ran Bobby Jindal's campaign, saw in Cruz's action far more calculation than principle, recalling the days when Cruz expressed admiration and affection for Trump.

"No one did more to create Donald Trump than Ted Cruz did," Anderson wrote in an email shortly after Cruz's speech. "While others were attempting to stop Trump, Cruz was complimenting him and sucking up to him. It was a political calculation that failed. Everything he does is a political calculation. Tonight he calculated that not endorsing the Republican nominee will be good for him. That will be another failed calculation, no matter whether Trump wins or loses in the fall."

Anderson was by no means alone in that feeling. Talking to attendees leaving the hall Wednesday night, most were unhappy with Cruz's performance. They didn't like the fact that Cruz would not fall in line behind his party's choice, and they could not understand his decision in light of their strong belief that the country has gone downhill fast under President Obama and will continue unless Hillary Clinton is stopped.
On the other hand, Sarah Palin, one of Trump's most blood-thirsty lady enforcers, has declared Cruz, henceforth, a persona-non-grata in the Republican Party:
Cruz’s broken pledge to support the will of the people tonight was one of those career-ending “read my lips” moments. I guarantee American voters took notice and felt more unsettling confirmation as to why we don’t much like typical politicians because they campaign one way, but act out another way. That kind of political status quo has got to go because it got us into the mess we’re in with America’s bankrupt budgets and ramped up security threats.

It’s commonplace for politicians to disbelieve their word is their bond, as evidenced by Cruz breaking his promise to endorse his party’s nominee, evidently thinking whilst on the convention stage, “At this point, what difference does it make?” We’ve been burned so horribly by that attitude that voters won’t reward politicians pulling that “what difference does it make” stunt again. Politicians will see — it makes all the difference in the world to us.
Who knew Palin was such a Talking Heads fan!

Josh Marshall tried to make sense out of what happened last night for normal observers-- but found it almost impossible. "Trump's convention is everything you could have predicted: a mix of bracing disorganization, provocation, aggression and lies. It is simply impossible to pick apart the incompetence from the transgressive behavior and pettiness... Years from today we will still wrestle with the meaning of Cruz for once leveraging the awesome power of his assholery in a righteous cause. Perhaps there is a salutary bravery or solidity there I hadn't noticed, or at least a quality vouchsafed for this moment. This is Trump. His convention would be his presidency-- entertaining and hilarious if he weren't also a live wire against the fumy gasoline can set against our national home. It is quite literally a terrifying prospect. He's quite likely to lose his quest for the presidency. But he might not. He's that close to the unimaginable. And he's brought almost an entire political party along with him. We will be blessed if we can escape this with no more harm."

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