Political endorsements don’t matter like they used to. In the age of twitter, cable news, and the blogs, people depend less and less on other so-called thought leaders to tell them what to think. Less and less does anyone really care what leading figures – even those with huge and recent impacts on GOP history like George W. Bush – think about who they should vote for.
There’s a different kind of endorsement that matters quite a lot, however, and that is the kind of unintentional endorsement that Congressional leaders have given [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]. Republican voters are angry – and justifiably so – at the entire apparatus that created both the shellacking that brought Obama to power in 2008 and the separate apparatus that has cowered servile before Obama during his entire second term. Endorsements from key George W. Bush personnel, from Bush himself, from Mitch McConnell and [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] – these would serve to harm a candidate more than help him.
In fact, if the cadre of long-time power brokers in the GOP really want to stop Donald Trump, they should [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] out in public as often as possible to support him.
The New York Times’ designated Republican concern troll Frank Bruni has unintentionally written what I consider to be the definitive, authoritative argument for voting for [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]. Of course, it is titled “Anyone but [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ],” and it lays out the compelling case for a man who is hated by literally all the right people:
More and more Republican insiders talk about a battle between Cruz and [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] for the nomination, or about a three-way, if you will, among Cruz, Rubio and Trump.
And in the voices of these insiders I hear horror, because Trump and Cruz are nasty pieces of work.
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So does Cruz’s experience in the policy shop of George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. After Bush took office, other full-time advisers got plum jobs in the White House. Cruz was sent packing to the Siberia of the Federal Trade Commission.
The political strategist Matthew Dowd, who worked for Bush back then, tweeted that “if truth serum was given to the staff of the 2000 Bush campaign,” an enormous percentage of them “would vote for Trump over Cruz.”
Another Bush 2000 alumnus said to me: “Why do people take such an instant dislike to [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]? It just saves time.”
Asked about Cruz at a fund-raiser last spring, [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] responded by raising a lone finger — the middle one.
More recently, Senate Republicans denied Cruz a procedural courtesy that’s typically pro forma.
“That is different than anything I’ve ever seen in my years here,” [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ], the Arizona Republican, told The Washington Post.
Many politicians rankle peers. Many have detractors. Cruz generates antipathy of an entirely different magnitude. It’s so pronounced and so pervasive that he’s been forced to acknowledge it, and he spins it as the price invariably paid by an outsider who challenges the status quo, clings to principle and never backs down.
No, it’s the fruit of a combative style and consuming solipsism that would make him an insufferable, unendurable president. And if there’s any sense left in this election and mercy in this world, it will undo him soon enough.
One of the main legitimate arguments against the Cruz candidacy is that he has accomplished relatively little during this time in the Senate, but Frank Bruni reminds us that’s not entirely true. He’s accomplished rankling people who needed to be rankled in a way that no one else before him has. He’s shone lights in dark places many didn’t know existed, and for that he has been hated.
Voters in this primary do not want someone who has his piece on an abominable monstrosity of omnibus legislation, forged through compromise with Democrats and feckless Republicans. They want someone who stands against the status quo, even if (or especially if) doing so makes them unpopular with people like Mitch McConnell, John McCain, and [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ].
And that’s the best endorsement Cruz could hope for.