Ted Cruz Revealed: Conditional man of his word
Last night Ted Cruz spoke at the Republican National Convention. He was invited to do so by Mr. Trump, at the time, the presumptive nominee for president for the Republican Party. Mr. Cruz accepted the invitation. And, after a 23 minute speech, was booed off the stage amid a chorus of chants of “endorse Trump.”
What happened? How is it that Ted Cruz, who finished second behind Donald Trump for the nomination, the darling of the Conservative cause and acknowledged “man of his word” ended up in such an ignominious position?
In failing to endorse Donald Trump, Mr. Cruz displayed a failure of character.
In many respects, it was a good speech. The overarching theme was freedom. When he spoke on message, against the policies of Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, the crowd was on his side and reacted as expected. On the topics of freedom of speech, religion, and the right to bear arms, he was on target. On the topics of national defense, border security, and the Bill of Rights in its entirety, including the rights of states to set their own laws, he was on target. When he spoke of the preciousness of human life, from the womb to the tomb, he was on target. When he spoke of Supreme Court Justices that respect the Constitution, he was on message.
He couched all these in terms of freedom.
He spoke of the uprising, in both parties, and other countries around the world, against the political elites. He spoke of the Republican legacy against slavery, and Jim Crow laws. He spoke of how Republicans were instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act legislation in the 1960s.
Then he talked about how we as Americans “deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love.” And everyone there, who had ever heard Ted speak during the primaries, knew that Ted was not talking about Donald Trump.
He followed that by this: “And to everybody listening, please don’t stay home in November. If you love your country, and love your children as much as I know that you do, 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.”
At that point, as it became clear that he was not going to endorse Donald Trump, the chants of “Endorse Trump” began, first with the New York delegation. Ted’s response was “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.” And he continued on with his speech. And the responses from the audience became much more muted; the shouts of endorse Trump began to break out. And as it became more apparent he was not going to endorse, the boo’s started. When he finished, with no endorsement, the boo’s became a roar.
Why was this such a big deal? Why do Republicans, and conservatives like myself feel so let down? Back in the fall of 2015, Ted Cruz, along with the other 16 Republican candidates, signed a pledge to support whoever the eventual candidate turned out to be. Text of the pledge is as follows:
“I, __________, affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for President of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is. I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”
I understand that the primary contest was acrimonious. There were lines that Mr. Trump crossed with regard to Mr. Cruz that I do not believe should have been crossed. In no way do I believe that Mr. Trump truly thought that Mr. Cruz’s father was somehow in cahoots with or in support of Lee Harvey Oswald’s assignation of President John F. Kennedy; the attacks on his wife were unconscionable. I understand that Ted was angered. However I see nothing in that pledge, no escape clause, that says anything to the effect of “except if someone makes a personal attack on me or my family, then I reserve the right to declare this pledge null and void.”
What could Ted Cruz have done instead? He could have said, in the much more eloquent way that Ted speaks versus the way I speak, words to this effect:
“I do not like Mr. Trump. He made personal attacks on my family that I cannot in good conscience ignore. We are not and never will be friends. However, I am a man of my word. I pledged that I would endorse the eventual winner, no matter who he or she was. And I stand by that pledge. I endorse Mr. Trump for president. I will cast my ballot for him in the November elections, and for Republican candidates up and down the ticket. I urge that you do the same; we cannot afford a Hillary Clinton presidency.”
Again, he chose not to. Instead, at breakfast the next day, he addressed the Texas delegation, telling them that he never said anything negative about Donald Trump, and he has no intention of saying anything negative going forward. But he is “not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.” When asked if he would vote for Trump, his answer was that he would “watch and listen” and make his decision when it comes time to vote. He spoke of his principles. He walked a fine line. He, as usual, spoke eloquently.
And the pivot is made; the man of his word is now revealed to be merely a man who makes promises – and breaks them when the situation changes. A politician.
You know, I am not crazy about Trump either. He was not my first choice. Heck, I voted for Cruz in the primary. However, if “a man’s word is his bond” is to mean anything at all, then a man’s word must be his bond. You don’t have to like it you just have to do it; even when it hurts. Is your word only good when things go your way? Or is your word good – even when it is not to your advantage; even when keeping it may be repugnant to you? There is no such thing as being a conditional man of your word. You either are or you aren’t. If you are a man of your word, you don’t give your word lightly and when you do, you are all in – rain or shine.
Years ago, I was involved in an ill-fated cattle buy with a friend of mine. When my wife and I went to pay for the three cows, one of them was lying on the ground, clearly dead. When I objected to paying for a dead cow, I was informed that my partner had already paid his half, and a deal is a deal. I paid the other half, over the objections of my wife, who has never let me live that down. To this day, I may at any time hear a reference to “buying a dead cow.” If you ever hear her mention this, I can assure you, she is not referring to a steak!
As it turned out, my friend had not already paid half; the seller lied to me. His problem, not mine. My conscience is clear. I had made an agreement, and my word is my bond. He’s the one who gets to explain to his eternal judge someday how it came to be that he lied and sold me a dead cow.
Mr. Cruz has sold us a dead cow. He portrayed himself one way, and then, arbitrarily, for whatever good reason he may have had, or thought he had, unilaterally abrogated the contract he made to the American people. He can put whatever face on that he likes; he can guzzy it up in whatever language flows trippingly off his tongue; he might even believe what he is telling us – I have no doubt he does. It doesn’t matter. He went back on his word.
If he wasn’t going to endorse, he should not have appeared on that stage to give a speech. It doesn’t matter that he was invited by Mr. Trump to speak. It doesn’t matter that he told Mr. Trump he wasn’t going to endorse. It doesn’t matter that the Trump campaign saw the speech before he gave it, noted that it didn’t contain an endorsement, and let him proceed anyway. None of that matters.
What matters is that he was given a very public venue from which to speak; a venue where it was expected that anyone giving a speech would be endorsing the candidate. Having taken the invitation, there was an implicit expectation that such an endorsement would be forthcoming from everyone in that room and all of us watching on television. If he wasn’t going to endorse, then he should have stayed home as Kasich did. As Bush did.
Because at any given moment, at any time during that speech, despite what was displayed on the teleprompter; despite what he told Mr. Trump, he could have “gone off script” and made the endorsement. Mr. Trump gave him enough rope to hang himself, and Ted Cruz stuck his neck in the noose and dived off the platform.
It was Mr. Trump’s night. It wasn’t Mr. Cruz’s. Ted Cruz made it about himself. He took the focus away from the elected Republican candidate and put it on himself. He killed momentum, momentum needed to win in November. He gave the press, which was looking for any excuse, something else to talk about, to distract from the message Mr. Trump and the Party were trying to project. He made himself the focus and essentially flipped Trump and the assembled delegates the bird.
It was a good speech; this simply was not the time and place for it.
Ted Cruz is no fool. As I noted above, he is extremely intelligent. Not only did he not endorse Trump, he ever so subtly tried to entice others not to vote for him. That “vote your conscience” line in his speech, not “vote for Trump” or “Vote Republican” – everyone knows that is the phrase used by the “never Trump” crowd. He had to know going in what the reaction to that and his non-endorsement would be. He did it anyway.
Perhaps this was a test. Perhaps, had Ted swallowed his pride and for the good of the country he claims to love, endorsed the candidate as he had pledged his word to do, perhaps there was a place Mr. Trump had in mind for him; a place where he could ultimately do more good for the nation than in the Senate. Mr. Trump has been noted by many as being a good judge of character; of being able to size up a person and place him or her into the very job that would be perfect for their talents.
Ted Cruz would be outstanding on the Supreme Court.
Ted Cruz is an eloquent speaker. He is a brilliant man who understands the Constitution and is valiant in its defense. He would make a great Supreme Court justice. He’s the kind of guy I would want on that bench.
In the end though, despite stating in his speech that Americans “deserve leaders … who cast aside anger for love,” Ted Cruz proved unable to cast aside his own anger for love – love of the country in which he lives. Love of the nation his father fled to and raised him to believe in. Ted failed to rise above that and in the end appears willing to settle for four, perhaps eight more years with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama III, at the helm, with all that entails; the likelihood of 30 or more years of Progressive rule on the Supreme Court; the end of the second amendment as it pertains to an individual’s right to keep and bear arms; continued over-the-top spending in a nation that already has a national debt of $19 trillion and growing; the likely expansion of Obamacare into a single-payer national healthcare system the continued uncontrolled immigration from countries hostile to the United States, whose belief systems do not mesh with the democratic ideals and freedoms we hold dear, and who are unwilling to assimilate into our culture, a culture which they abhor; the list goes on.
It leaves me wondering too whether if, should Donald Trump win and become our next president, Ted Cruz can actually work with him in the Senate. Or will Ted Cruz become just as much an impediment to President Trump as he was to President Obama?
As far as I am concerned now, in the Senate, he is just another politician – a good one perhaps, one that stands on the side of the Constitution and stands for probably 99% of the values I hold dear. A good man, certainly. A man of principle – at least as he defines it. But in the end, just another politician; a man I can trust, but only to a point.
Not a man of his word.