Excellent? Me, say that about Ted Cruz? Have I ever had anything good to say about Cruz? I don’t think so, but I really do feel compelled to report on his press conference yesterday morning, which seems to have gotten nowhere near the media attention it deserves. It was the best takedown of Donald Trump that any politician has performed in this whole crazy election year, but it apparently got lost in the news of Trump’s Indiana victory, sealing his nomination.
Cruz was reacting to Trump’s latest .…uh…Trumpism–his citing a National Enquirer story linking Cruz’s father to the assassination of JFK. Think about that for a second: an undeniably serious candidate for president of the United States promoting a wacky conspiracy theory originating in a notoriously trashy tabloid. That should have been a news story in itself.
Anyway, Cruz reacted by calling Trump a “pathological liar.” Of course normally, when one politician calls another something like that, you can dismiss it as hyperbole. In Trump’s case, it is a very reasonable characterization, possibly clinically accurate. According to Cruz, Trump could take a lie detector three times in one day and answer the same question differently each time and pass all three times, because he doesn’t know the difference between truth and falsehood. That seems very plausible to me. Trump is unquestionably the most shamelessly mendacious major party candidate for president in my lifetime. The lack of shame may well reflect an obliviousness to the distinction between truth and falsehood. Cruz added, “And, in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.”
Cruz also called Trump “utterly amoral,” a serial philanderer, a narcissist and a bully. He argued that bullies appear strong but that they are really weak and insecure, “And you can see that in Donald, because he has to build tall buildings everywhere and put his name on top.” (Here I’m paraphrasing to the best of my recollection, since I couldn’t find a transcript.) He pointed out that Trump publicly has practically bragged about his sexual promiscuity.
Cruz, it might be noted, delivered this diatribe without notes, speaking fluently and forcefully. Very impressive. Now, I don’t want to overdo my praise of Cruz, who earlier in the campaign pronounced himself a “great fan” of Donald Trump, hoping, transparently, to pick up Trump supporters on the rebound after the Donald imploded. And most of Cruz’s Senate colleagues would probably be amused at hearing him call anyone a narcissist. But in his last desperate attempt at survival, Cruz sketched out a playbook that the Democrats should absolutely pick up and fill in for the fall campaign. Hillary Clinton has expressed her determination to stick to the issues. That’s admirable, but it shouldn’t be allowed to obscure the recognition that the single biggest issue has to be Trump himself. Please help me if I’m forgetting someone, but I don’t think there has ever been a major party candidate for president who is so obviously unfit for the office.