During the last Republican primary debate that Fox News hosted and Donald Trump ran screaming from, Ted Cruz threatened to leave the stage if any more “mean questions” about him and to his opponents were asked.
While Cruz said later that he was “jos keeding” as it were, I don’t think anyone who watched it felt like the uncomfortable threat toward moderator Chris Wallace was anything remotely resembling a joke. In fact, as someone who crafts jokes daily, I can tell you that if Cruz was joking, he was failing hard at it. But the importance of the exchange shouldn’t be lost on Cruz now that he’s the GOP’s Top Douche after his Iowa caucus victory.
I’m sure it’s very easy for Cruz to have a false sense of security right now, after Iowa. However, his treatment at the hands of establishment Republicans and Fox News should have him petrified. He’s made a career and name for himself in Washington by being the guy that no one on either side likes. That definitely ingratiates him to people who believe all government is bad government, but it doesn’t make for very much support from the machine you’ll need to win the White House, if you even make it to the primaries.
I’m not in the business of predicting anything, and I have no desire to. I just know what I saw on the Fox debate. With the vacuum that a Trump-less situation creates, they all gravitated to the second largest black hole in the room, and set their sights on him. It’s not even something you can objectively call unfair, because when you live by the asshole comments, you die by the asshole comments. Perhaps Cruz forgot he lived in an era when tape could be produced that proves what people say about him is true, but regardless, he better be ready to take onslaught after onslaught of pejorative, pointed questions.
He’s the guy that shut down the government over an Obamacare tantrum. He’s the guy who calls fellow-Republicans squishy and implies that Democrats are Godless, amoral heathens. He’s a throwback to everything that is embarrassing and silly about our past, and that is precisely why Iowa Republicans — the base-iest of base voters — chose him, of course. Cruz of course has to realize that the establishment and base voters don’t really have the same objectives, and that means as he gets closer to the end of the primary season and the beginning of the General Election, he has to moderate his rhetoric, or he will lose big to whoever the Dems put up, likely Hillary Clinton.
But if he moderates his tone, the very people who put him in Victory Lane in Iowa will call him a “RINO” and pillory him. He’ll lose their support, and have to drop out of the election. This was probably the establishment’s strategy with Cruz and Trump all along. Of course, Cruz or Trump could still best the establishment and end up getting their party’s nod. Stranger things have happened, and as much as the GOP power players don’t want to admit it — they need the rabid fundamentalists and they have to keep them at least somewhat happy. So it’s probably not unheard of that either will be facing off against the Democratic challenger in November; we all just know that’s the last thing Reince Priebus actually wants.
Then again, what the hell do I know? Maybe douchepiling on Cruz will backfire and his supporters will rally around him. That’s completely possible. Conservative base voters have been losing their shit for the last two cycles saying that their party keeps nominating weaklings. So in terms of someone willing to spout the bullshit no matter what, Cruz is definitely their guy if Trump keeps imploding. Still, in the end it’s a fight for the Republican nomination, and unless the idiots on the Democratic side that are threatening to boycott if their sacred candidate doesn’t win actually go through with their threats, no one the GOP puts up will win anyway.
Because they didn’t learn their 2012 lessons, that’s why. Everything that Trump has said, Cruz has either echoed or agreed with tacitly by not attacking him more. Trump has permanently tied himself to Cruz, so that even when and if he leaves the race, Cruz’s opponents — be they GOP or Democratic — will be able to evoke in voters the image of Trump, the douche chills from which should drive everyone far and fast away from the Canadian-born Texan cowboy.
Side note, what’s up with conservatives like Cruz and Dubya pretending to be cowboys when they’re Ivy League As Fuck? Oh yeah. Pandering. duh.
If Cruz wants to survive the primaries he has to stay true to the base, but if he wants to win the General, he has to moderate, which is something he’s shown no willingness to even remotely attempt to do. So what’s going to happen? I don’t know, but the establishment sharks will smell blood in the water, he will be pounced on, and the only question is how he comes out on the other side, but they won’t be merciful, after he spent nearly half a decade making their lives a living Hell, that’s for sure.