Ted Cruz seems to me an unusually calculating politician. He has been planning to run for president at least since he was sworn in as a senator in 2012. Among conservative Republicans, he has sought (and seeks) to occupy the Ivory Soap niche. He’s the purest of them all.
Last night we saw Cruz’s calculating the aftereffects of the Trump Train Wreck that is scheduled for November 8. Cruz wants to be around to pick up the pieces when somebody breaks our heart.
In lieu of a tepid endorsement of Trump, Cruz offered a shocking declaration of disaffection. Voting for Trump might be too much to ask of him, Cruz tacitly conceded. He advised others that, if pulling the lever for Trump violates your conscience, stick with other Republicans on the ballot.
Cruz accepted the invitation of the powers that be in the party to appear as a speaker at the convention last night. His speech as delivered in prime time can’t be what any of them had in mind. Cruz turned up at the party, so to speak, only to tell the host he wasn’t good enough for him. Wouldn’t a simple RSVP have sufficed?
Cruz elicted hearty boos from the Trump enthusiasts at the convention. The moment harked back to Nelson Rockefeller’s speech at the Republican convention in San Francisco (full text here, video excerpt below).
Today Cruz says he didn’t say a single negative word about Donald Trump. One would have to be a fool, however, to miss the implications. His speech was pregnant with them, which isn’t to say that any of them are wrong.
Cruz’s speech will easily be one of the most memorable of the 2016 Republican convention. It appears to me to represent the miscalculation of a very calculating politician, but we shall certainly see.
UPDATE: John Dickerson does an excellent job of putting the 1964 convetnion in context in “Never Goldwater.”