“Lyin' Ted Cruz consistently said that he will, and must, win Indiana. He should drop out of the race – stop wasting time and money.” - Donald Trump
Ted Cruz finally shut it down last night. After months – years, really – of pandering and shameless histrionics, his presidential ambitions were extinguished in Indiana. Cruz dumped everything he had into The Hoosier State, a state he absolutely had to have. And it was all in vain.
Cruz didn't merely lose last night – he was trounced. The numbers are staggering. As it stands, Trump is likely to finish with a 20 point lead over Cruz. The pre-election polls had Trump winning, but not by so sizable a margin. The rejection could not have been more obvious.
Cruz raised the stakes in Indiana. He made it a referendum. “This is a moment,” he said, “where the entire country is relying on Indiana to save us from going over the cliff.” In a state he was supposed to have a natural advantage, Cruz told the voters it was now or never: Vote for me or Trump will win and “this country could plunge into the abyss.”
Well, they responded: The abyss is preferable to a Cruz nomination.
In his speech last night, Cruz conceded that his “path” has been “foreclosed” and that “we left it all on the field in Indiana.” He promised, in that perfunctory manner we've come to expect on such occasions, to “continue the fight for liberty.” Visibly shaken, he feigned what little optimism he could before retreating from the stage. He refused to even acknowledge Donald Trump, a man he called “utterly amoral” and a “pathological liar” just a few hours earlier.
If you're considering feeling sorry for Cruz, don't. He got what he deserved. Trump is a menace and a huckster in his own right, but a potential Cruz administration is the stuff of nightmares. An avowed theocrat, Cruz has peddled misogynist garbage and anti-gay pseudoscience under the flag of “religious liberty” for years. He tried to shut down the government in order to block funding for Planned Parenthood and he's boasted that he would “not surrender” on issues like same sex-marriage, no matter what the law or the general will or the Supreme Court declares. He's also, incidentally, a climate change denier.
If elected, Cruz would be the most regressive and dangerous president in modern history. A political chameleon if there ever was one, it's hard to know what Cruz actually believes, but he appears earnest about one thing: his religious fundamentalism. And make no mistake: Cruz was determined to impose that fundamentalism on the rest of us.
On his final day of campaigning, Cruz unloaded on Trump: “He [Trump] doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.”
Setting aside the fact that Cruz spent the first half of the campaign coddling Trump and tweeting things like “@realDonaldTrump is terrific #DealWithIt,” these are strange, ironic words to hear from a man like Cruz. The Texas senator is arguably the least liked human being in Congress, and for good reason. Since he entered that chamber, he's abandoned any pretense of serious governance and chosen instead to perform for the cameras. He's alienated every colleague and thus has accomplished exactly nothing as a legislator.
This is why former Speaker of the House John Boehner once called Cruz a “jackass” and a “false prophet.” It's why Mr. Boehner emerged from retirement last week and said of Cruz: “Lucifer in the flesh. I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” The contempt for Cruz was shared by his fellow presidential candidates as well. After his shady tactics in Iowa, for example, Mike Huckabee called Cruz a “low-life” and a “sleazy” politician. It's instructive that the people who've worked with him the most like him the least. He's earned their disdain, and our suspicion.
Although we're now faced with another nightmare in the form of Donald Trump, it's a good thing that Cruz is gone. He's a liar and a preternaturally gifted demagogue. His brand of self-promoting brinkmanship encapsulates everything wrong with Washington. Frankly, I'm glad he lost. You should be too.