Ted Cruzin’, Nancy Losin’

Cruz gets some love from an unexpected source, while Pelosi just gets heckled.

The Republican Party has been having an identity crisis as of late, with commentators from Jonah Goldberg to our own Erick Erickson wondering how to reconcile the nominally conservative character of the GOP with the newfound doctrine of Trumpism, with all its attendant nationalism, protectionism and pugilism. It’s a serious question, really—one that has given us the crazy specter of evangelicals becoming excuse makers for Clintonesque moral conduct, while former deficit hawks turn apologist for endless debt. Exactly where does an ideological conservative fit in this hall of funhouse mirrors?

Thankfully, the situation doesn’t appear as dire as all that, if this story from the Washington Times is a bellweather:

Sen. Ted Cruz’s stock is rising among members of President Trump’s base who feel double-crossed after the president offered amnesty to illegals in the immigration debate. Some who opposed Mr. Cruz in his 2016 run for the White House are even clamoring for the Texas Republican to mount a primary challenge to Mr. Trump in 2020.

The newfound esteem for Mr. Cruz, whom Mr. Trump dubbed “Lyin’ Ted” when they battled for the 2016 Republican nomination, is coming from people who were die-hard supporters of the president.

“Ted Cruz has kept his word to the American citizens, and we are watching this very, very carefully,” said Sue Payne, a conservative activist in Washington’s Maryland suburbs who in 2016 championed Mr. Trump and reviled Mr. Cruz. “I’m getting very sick of Donald Trump right now. He’s turning his back on the people who put him in office.”

With all due respect to Ms. Payne, I’m baffled at how any truly conservative activist could have reviled Ted Cruz, who was easily the most conservative candidate in the 2016 GOP primary—and probably the only intellectual conservative in the race. By that standard, she should never have championed Donald Trump, who as far as I can tell isn’t ideological at all. But Trump was the first to raise questions about our immigration system that others dared not touch in the beginning, and put front and center a subject that Democrats and their allies in the media had declared off limits. That stance attracted a lot of support, and ultimately paved Trump’s road to victory—which is why supporters like Ms. Payne are hacked at the president’s newfound flexibility on amnesty for illegals:

[T]he biggest double-cross was the offer of an immigration deal with a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers who came illegally to the U.S. as minors.

Mr. Cruz distinguished himself on that front last week by casting the only vote against opening the Senate immigration debate in which all three competing proposals included amnesty for Dreamers.

William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, accused Mr. Trump of “dereliction of duty” by abandoning the get-tough policies that put him in the White House.

“This betrayal destroys his credibility and opens up a huge window of opportunity for Sen. Cruz or another GOP presidential primary challenger in 2020,” said Mr. Gheen, whose group advocates zero tolerance for illegals.

Cruz, for his part, hasn’t ruled out another run in 2020, but says he’s focusing on his own re-election bid and staying on task for the people of Texas. I’m sure he also knows that a primary bid against an incumbent would be a monumental task, especially if the economy keeps roaring along as the GOP tax cuts really start to take hold. Trump, however, should be very careful that he doesn’t forget the cardinal rule he learned from show business: Never forget your audience. They were the ones who put him in the White House, and they are the ones with the power to tell him, “You‘re FIRED!” And they’re not likely to forgive a flip-flop on their numero-uno issue.

Meanwhile, in a town hall in another part of the country...

Yes, that’s Nancy Pelosi, the Queen of Self-Awareness, getting heckled after pilfering a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. to lecture her audience on the evils of rich people being so rich while others are stuck in lives of poverty, drudgery and having to shop the closeout rack at Neiman Marcus. After such a display of chutzpah, it was inevitable that someone would ask, “How much are you worth, Nancy?”

”We’re not talking about that!” she snapped in reply.

With repartee like that, I’m surprised she didn’t come on stage with a bag over her head billed as the Unknown Congresswoman. It would have been fun to see her get gonged before the set was over.

No. 1-8

The cognitive dissonance exhibited by so many conservative commentators is very worrisome; this is an illustration. Like all ‘good’ people Giller laments the “attendant nationalism, protectionism, and pugilism.” (It’s analogous to sending out the ‘dog whistle’ that almost all FBI employees are just great people, before lamenting that there are some “bad apples” at the top. Mustn’t commentate that the FBI has become a thoroughly dysfunctional bureaucracy that has – recently? – been corrupted by a corrupt political regime.) Then he proceeds to relate a Washington Times story making it abundantly clear that one of the absolute bedrocks of Trump’s support was prevention of amnesty for illegals. How does this square with Giller’s (and Erickson’s) politically correct ‘non-nationalism’? Erickson clearly likes a “compassionate” subversion of immigration law. But Giller completely ignores the thrust of the story; namely, that Cruz’s “ascendency” is based on Trump’s “flexibility” on amnesty. I infer that Giller is just happy that Trump is being criticized.

I, too, supported Cruz in the primaries and will strongly support his reelection to the Senate. I believe he provides the best combination of integrity and aptitude on the national scene today. But I also believe that intellectual honesty requires accepting the lessons in realpolitik provided by the previous national election – and this commentary just glosses over an obvious lesson.

What has “triggered” my response here? In the interest of honesty, let me end with this declaration: “Nationalism” is not an unworthy tenet, and I resent the implication that it is.


No Republican is going to run against Trump in the 2020 primary race. Trump is way too nasty (think Lyin' Ted). The only way a bully like Trump wins is by bashing his opponents with childish name calling. It worked in 2016 and it will work in 2020.


Trump will be the nominee in 2020 unless he decides he doesn't want to run. It is up to Trump on that. He could get tired of it and decide to just be a rich real estate developer again. He could think that he might not win and walk away a "winner". These people are a couple of exceptions. The number of 2016 Trump primary supporters that would abandon him for Cruz in 2020, no matter what he does, is a couple of percent at most. They just don't exist in any significant number. If they were that concerned about some issues, be that spending or immigration, they would have never backed Trump in the first place. Everyone with a functioning brain knew he was a gamble on any of the issues, because he has repeated flipped and flopped all over the place. They either valued style over substance, liked his populists policy goals, were uninformed voters or wanted someone to just toss Molotov cocktails all over the place. None of those leave room to become a 2020 Cruz supporter over Trump. This is a non-story.


The other point is that Trump's base is simply too strong. The moderates and swamp critters are not going to back Cruz over Trump, no matter what Trump does. Then you throw in the sizable base that Trump has who he could shoot their own mother on 5th Avenue and they would still support him. That doesn't leave enough people to win a nomination even if you could keep the RNC from overturning it (which you couldn't). The only way Ted Cruz wins the Presidency is if Trump is not running. There is too much overlap in the "outsider" crowd between the two to enable Cruz to win with Trump involved. If Cruz couldn't beat the extremely flawed candidate Trump, he isn't going to beat President Trump that is the same person but with some conservative policy victories and 4 years of not blowing the world up. No one could beat Trump in a primary, no matter what he does from here on out. The average GOP voter is a lemming that does what he/she is told. There is no way 50%+ vote for anyone other than Trump, even if they could all manage to coalesce around 1 person (which also won't happen, because those who would oppose Trump come from different coalitions of the GOP).


As a early and supporter of Cruz until the end, and as a person that would much, much, much rather have him as President than Trump and would support him over Trump in a primary in a heartbeat, the idea that Cruz would challenge Trump in 2020 is laughable. There is zero chance that happens. For one, the party would never, ever let an uncumbent President be beaten in a primary. They can basically do whatever they want to the rules (thanks to the Trump delegates conspiring with the swamp creatures) to ensure that never happens. Now if Cruz was President, would they dump him for a Mitt Romney type? Absolutely if they could get away with it. As much as Trump has advanced some good policy, he isn't draining the swamp, just making it a little for comfortable for his allies. I'm not sure that anyone would, but the party is itching to ditch Trump. Do we not remember how dissension was stamped out at the Convention? And that was for a candidate with less than 50% of the votes, not an incumbent President.