I don't think I've ever experienced anything like this quite before. People talk about the establishment being against Reagan in 1980 but that really isn't the case. Reagan was a two-term California governor. His inner circle was very much tied into the GOP establishment. He'd run for president in 1968 (he carried one state) and 1976. He was known. His opponent was a former member of congress, former CIA director, former UN Ambassador, former Ambassador-equivalent to China, former RNC Chairman George H. W. Bush. Of course, in 1968, 1976, and 1980, the establishment was widely trusted. Endorsements by an establishment figures gave a candidate an imprimatur of credibility.
But the establishments of both parties are metaphorically fouling their drawers as Cruz rides steady in a strong second place in national polls, especially as the establishment thinks Trump will just go away, deus ex machina style. They know those Trump voters are only going one place.
A brief tour of the waterfront.
GOP Consultant Alex Castellanos at Erick Erickson's The Resurgent.
Why does Senator Cruz refuse to allow Republican majorities in both Houses to reach agreement on legislation, when he knows it only results in compromises outside those GOP majorities and legislation that is more left-wing and dangerous?
and at his own website:
Politics is a team sport. Skins v. shirts. Redskins v. Cowboys. Democrats v. Republicans. That’s how we govern our nation.
There is an “R” behind Cruz’s name. That is the party he chose.
But Ted Cruz is still the hapless kid on the sidelines, the lonely outsider, envying those on the field who joyously sacrifice for each other and celebrate each other and take each other to victory.
Ted Cruz will never be on a team, much less lead one.
GOP Consultant Curt Anderson at Politico:
In fact, Cruz has failed in every cause he has championed—and it is never his fault. Failure to defund Planned Parenthood, failure to repeal Obamacare, failure to stop the Iran deal—and the list goes on. That is his Senate career. Of course, all conservatives want these battles to be fought, even if we lose. But it’s not really the issue or the cause that Cruz is championing. No, he just wants to be the one leading the cause—and wants you to see him doing it. Cruz is a perpetual martyr.
Former GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole:
"He's not a ... traditional Republican conservative," he added of Cruz. "Achievements are shutting down the government twice and calling the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, a liar on the Senate floor."
Asked if he could support Cruz, should the Texas senator become the GOP nominee, Dole responded, "I might oversleep that day."
"He uses the word 'conservative' more than he ever uses the word 'Republican.' So, it would be difficult [to support him]," added Dole, who served in the House in the 1960s before moving to the Senate, where he served as majority leader. He was the 1996 GOP presidential nominee.
Democrat tool Bill Press is panicked that the GOP is hurting itself:
Look at the 2016 GOP primary. The inmates have taken over the asylum. Riding a wave of anti-Washington sentiment, outsiders Donald Trump and Ted Cruz dominate the field, despite the fact that even most Republican strategists agree that Trump and Cruz are so far out of the mainstream that, were either one to become their presidential nominee, the Republican Party would get wiped out, losing the White House and Senate, and maybe even the House, and cease to be a real political force.
So far, no Republican leader has called to ask for my advice. But here it is anyway: Convince all other establishment candidates to drop out and unite behind one and stop saying they’d accept Trump or Cruz as the party’s nominee.
In other words, do whatever it takes to prevent Trump or Cruz from getting the nomination. The future of the Republican Party depends on it.
John Feehrey, GOP consultant and all around tool:
I have never seen a GOP candidate who has actually run ads against his own party as a way to raise money for himself, like Cruz did during the government shutdown.
A Cruz nomination would lose us the Senate.
Cruz called Mitch McConnell, the most conservative majority leader in history, a liar on the Senate floor.
Cruz is no team player, and if he were to get the nomination, it would lead to complete chaos.
Some pundits compare Ted Cruz to Richard Nixon. They are both brilliant, after all.
But does the Republican Party really need another Nixon?
Some say that we need to destroy the Republican Party in order to save it. Nominating Ted Cruz will destroy the GOP, in my opinion, but it won’t save it.
Notice that no one presents a critique of Cruz's positions on issues. The opposition is nothing but reflexive and visceral, it is the reaction of the amygdala, the primitive and almost reptilian area of the brain, reacting to existential danger. Their objectives are stylistic. Calling Mitch McConnell the most conservative Senate majority leader in history is not a defense of McConnell, it is a condemnation of the Senate. Calling him a liar might not have been polite but no person can challenge the truthfulness of the statement. Claiming that Cruz is not a team player assumes that the team is the GOP, not the constituents who elected Cruz.
Yuval Levin, writing in National Review, offers some insight into this:
Ted Cruz, meanwhile, offers a different (and perhaps more standard) attack on the establishment. He argues that the Republican establishment in particular has become not so much weak or stupid as corrupted: It has lost its way and been co-opted by Washington. What remains of the establishment needs to be blown up, he suggests, by a public uprising that he would lead or spark. This revolt would allow the country to find its way again and in a sense to recover a lost order. Cruz implicitly identifies that lost order with Ronald Reagan’s America, and he proposes himself as the one who would take us back to a time when the country grasped that conservative ideas could help address our problems.
Cruz wants to recover that mood and maybe also those particular Reaganite ideas. So his appeal is exceptionally nostalgic. The future figures in it only as the scene of a recovery of a lost time, a time that worked. And the Obama years (and here and there also the Bush and Clinton years) figure as a disastrous detour. This nostalgia strikes me as the core of Cruz’s message, essential to his appeal. Many conservative voters, especially older ones (who are predominant) surely find it easy to love.
A nostalgic case against a corrupt establishment is an argument for a better establishment. But Cruz’s case is nonetheless also genuinely populist, and in an interesting way. His vision of political change is rooted in an enormous faith in the power of public outrage. Cruz implies that by getting people angry about where the country is headed, he can channel great democratic energies toward changing direction. What we are missing, he suggests, is a leader who can get us angry about the right things. Cruz believes he is that leader and that his time in the Senate has proven it. ...
He goes on to say this about the campaigns of Trump, Christie, Cruz, and Rubio:
But among four of the candidates, exceptionally talented political performers all, there is a debate going on about the establishment and the public. And it’s not quite the debate we often imagine. It’s a debate about how to handle the public’s collapsing faith in the establishment — that is, in our political elite and our core governing institutions. The post-war American consensus has been fragmenting for decades, and the public’s loss of trust seems to be reaching a crisis point. These candidates offer different diagnoses of the problem and distinctly different prescriptions, but they are arguing about the same crisis of confidence.
I think that is largely correct. The anger at Trump is more the result of the feeling that he has betrayed his class by seeking the approval of the rubes in flyover country.The vitriol tossed towards Ted Cruz though indicates that his vision of a corrupt establishment that has forfeited the Mandate of Heaven. What is worse is that they know they are dealing with an honest man who believes in what he preaches, he doesn't, like many of his critics, mouth platitudes then sneer at the people who elected them. When the establishment wooed Rubio, the Gang of Eight amnesty bill was the product. When Ted Cruz was appointed vice chairman of the NRSC he fought to keep that organization out of primaries and then left it when it would not stop acting as an incumbent protection racket.
These people see their gravy train coming to an end. They see the curtain falling on Failure Theater. They are pissed, they are angry, they don't understand the mood in the GOP, and they are striking out.