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I’m trying to put my finger on exactly why I found Ted Cruz’s remarks Wednesday night so incredibly distasteful.
The Pledge thing is a goodly part of it.
Simply put, the parties to the Pledge Ted Cruz signed were only Ted Cruz and the RNC (by extension, you can probably include the delegates and voters, too).
The Pledge promised support, including data, from the RNC in exchange for Ted Cruz’s endorsement of the eventual nominee.
However, the Pledge that Ted Cruz signed with the RNC did not include Donald Trump. Trump’s signature is nowhere on the Pledge Ted Cruz signed. Therefore, the suggestions that somehow Trump can change the terms of the Pledge is ridiculous (and a little embarrassing, frankly).
So yeah, as a matter of fact, Ted Cruz broke that Pledge and in doing so broke his word. A word he has repeatedly claimed was a sacred trust.
That’s no good, but that’s not why I’m so bugged.
Then there’s the boorishness of his actions. Someone else said it best, when she described Ted Cruz’s speech akin to being invited to be the best man at your ex-girlfriend’s wedding, and then when it was time to toast the couple, instead implore the ex to run away with you!
Torturing the metaphor even further: this morning, the debacle continued when the rebuked Cruz kicked over their chocolate fountain, slapped the groom, insulted the bride, and was finally booted out by the rest of the wedding party.
Really bad, right? But no. That’s not the thing, either.
Maybe it’s the squandered opportunity.
Donald Trump gave Ted Cruz free reign to do the right thing and follow through with his commitments to the Republican Party, its delegates, and voters. Trump’s people reviewed Cruz’s remarks and did not demand they be reworked. Instead, Trump left it up all up to Cruz.
Donald Trump provided Ted Cruz prime-time air to say anything he wished, without restriction, and with it, all the rope he could possibly ever need to pull himself out of the hole he was standing at the bottom of, as well as use to pull together the Republican Party.
Instead, Ted Cruz used that premium time, that golden opportunity, in a room rooting loudly for him, to deliver a speech that was all-too-typical of today’s political class: a too-cute-by-half, snidely performed speech designed to serve no one except Ted Cruz.
But believe it or not, that’s not what bothers me so very, very much, either.
No. What bothers me is far more odious, more destructive, and more revealing of the brutal ambition animating the junior senator from Texas.
What really got to me was that he did all of these things on the back of a little girl who just lost her Dad in the cold-blooded police shootings in Dallas.
He traded on her grief, going out of his way to create connections between them both.
Just five paragraphs in, he said:
“Just two weeks ago a nine-year-old girl named Caroline was living a carefree Texas summer. Swimming in the pool, playing with friends, doing all the things a happy child might do. Like most children, she relied upon the love that she received from her mom, Heidi, and her dad, a police sergeant named Michael Smith.”
As I watched Ted Cruz speak, that queasy uh-oh feeling suddenly wracked me. You know the one: that intense, looming dread that sends slippery ribbons of nausea that somehow extend to the bottom of your feet.
He’s lost me. Perhaps forever:
“… Caroline gave him a hug and a kiss as he left for work, but as they parted her dad asked her something he hadn’t asked before. ‘What if this is the last time you ever kiss or hug me?'”
I physically cringed when he said:
“As I thought about what I wanted to say tonight, Michael Smith’s story weighed on my heart. Maybe that’s because his daughter Caroline is about the same age as my eldest daughter, and happens to share the same name. Maybe it’s because I saw a video of that dear, sweet child choking back sobs as she remembered her Daddy’s last question to her.“
After several minutes of freedom-liberty-constitution pabulum, he called back to poor Caroline:
“We’re fighting not for one particular candidate, or one campaign, but because each of wants to be able to tell our kids and grandkids, our own Caroline’s, that we did our best for their future and our country.”
Followed by a reference to her Dad:
“Sergeant Michael Smith stood up to protect our freedom. So do the soldiers, and sailors, and airmen, and Marines everyday fighting radical Islamic terrorism.”
And the gut-wrenching finale:
“And it is over that I hope will bring comfort to a grieving nine- year-old girl in Dallas, and God willing, propel her to move forward, and dream, and soar, and make her daddy proud. We must make the most of our moments, to fight for freedom, to protect our God-given rights, even if those with whom we don’t agree so that when we are old and grey, and when our work is done, and when we give those we love one final kiss goodbye we will be able to say freedom matters and I was part of something beautiful.”
What a ghoul.
Ted Cruz used this defenseless little girl and the horrific murder of her father as his personal human shields to shame people away from criticizing him for breaking his word and using valuable, prime-time air for his own, too-cute-by-half, non-endorsement of the Republican Presidential nominee, and to promote his own, exclusive interests.
That’s what bothered me.
I’m not sure what’s in store for Mr. Cruz. Hell, I’m not sure I care very much at the moment (or if I ever will).
But I’m fairly certain that whatever positions he may hold in his lifetime, a real chance to earn the nomination to the Presidency of the United States will never be among them.
Christina Botteri is a founder of the original National Chicago Tea Party and the newest Hennessy’s View contributor.
Transcript source: http://time.com/4416396/republican-convention-ted-cruz-donald-trump-endorsement-speech-transcript-video/