A day after Marco Rubio narrowly defeated Ted Cruz for second place in the South Carolina primary, the Cruz campaign put up a video saying Rubio dismissed the Bible as "not having many answers in it." The video caused an uproar as many struggled to get a hot take out there damning Rubio for saying such a thing. Meanwhile, anyone who has followed Rubio and listened to his thoughts on family, religion, and matters of life were either shocked silent or, more appropriately, very skeptical of the claim made by the Cruz camp.
Then, the story fell apart. Rubio's campaign put out the full video with a transcript, in which Rubio is shown as having said "all the answers are in there." Late last night, Cruz's national spokesman apologized for putting the attack out there in the first place.
And I get it. I really do. Cruz and Rubio still see each other as the ultimate opponent either has to face. It is somewhat admirable for them to be focusing on each other more than the guy who actually won South Carolina, Donald Trump. Cruz desperately needs the evangelicals to support him, and Rubio is fighting for the conservatives that naturally gravitate toward Cruz. The strategy makes sense.
But, in an election that is just as much about the identity of conservatism and what it means for our country, this spat does little more than give two camps which are normally stellar examples of the conservative identity a chance to tear each other apart. This leaves the substantially less conservative Donald Trump still standing tall. While it's extremely clear that attacking Trump doesn't do much to detract from his support, tearing each other apart doesn't help in the goal of beating Trump.
This is not about political strategy. This is about conservative identity. This attack was, frankly, stupid and unhelpful in any way in making this race about substantive issues. The back-and-forth attacks between these two, who are among the most admirable men we have in Congress, doesn't instill any confidence in the anti-Trump camp, which, given the responses to this post from yesterday, is a lot bigger than I had thought it might be.
There is a lot on the line not just in terms of keeping the Democrats out of the White House for another four to eight years, but also in getting an actually conservative Republican into the White House. This fight... Actually, it's intellectually dishonest to call this backseat road trip bickering a "fight"... doesn't do a thing to assist in that cause.
Senator Rubio? Senator Cruz? Stick to substantive issues or leave the race and allow someone to consolidate the conservative vote that hasn't been swayed by one of the three remaining charlatans.