In the Imperfect Analogy Department, Ted Cruz enraged Trump Lives Matter delegates last night by insisting that All Candidates Matter.
In his speech to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ted Cruz said nothing “wrong,” at least from a Republican speechmaking perspective. His reference to LeBron James nicely connected local fandom to the larger message of scoring a comeback victory for America and perhaps even slyly self-deprecated the speaker’s own hoop-clueless gaffe back in April. His story of the tearful orphaned daughter of one of the five Dallas police officers slain in the state he represents fit perfectly with the fearmongering that has characterized nearly every performance at The Q this week. It also stoked the martyr complex of the Christian conservatives in the room—”He protected the very protesters who mocked him because he loved his country, and his fellow man. His work gave new meaning to that line from literature, ‘To die of love is to live by it.'” (That’s not plagiarism, but it’s a weak citation: the quote comes not from faceless “literature” but from Victor Hugo.) He invoked “evil” and “radical Islamic terrorism.” Cruz listed a series of firm Republcian policy positions—school choice, repeal Obamacare, unregulated Internet, freedom of conscience, right to bear arms, end of judicial activism, states’ rights. He attacked Hillary Clinton (with the crazy assertion that “Clinton believes that government should make virtually every choice in your life,” which even my ten-year-old responded to immediately with “That’s not true!” but which is fine for the target audience).
Cruz even said Donald Trump’s name… once… to congratulate him on winning the nomination.
But then he made this perfectly reasonable, principled statement, and the convention went nuts:
We deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect from everybody. And, to those listening, please don’t stay home in November.
If you love our country, and love our children as much as you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom, and to be faithful to the constitution [Ted Cruz, speech to Republican National Convention, as transcribed by Roll Call, Cleveland, Ohio, 2016.07.20].
Yet Ted Cruz, with that perpetual sleazy-smarmy look that will forever keep him from winning a Presidential election, sneered again at New York and said, “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.”
Wow! Even that sentence, word by word, a denotatively polite compliment, uttered by Cruz in this context becomes a transparent insult to the New York billionaire he refused to name in the last 97% of his speech.
Republican delegates now have an object lesson in why their roaring insistence that “All Lives Matter” is so insulting to Americans who are fighting institutional racism. Ted Cruz is absolutely right that “We’re fighting not for one particular candidate, or one campaign, but because each of wants to be able to tell our kids and grandkids, our own Caroline’s, that we did our best for their future and our country.” But in this context, those otherwise benign words attack the imperative of the moment, to rally behind the last man who can save Republicans from a second Clinton Presidency or a third term for Obama.
I don’t really believe Isaac Latterell and Mike Rounds will walk out of Cleveland with a greater understanding of the proper critique of the “All Lives Matter” retort. Cruz people and Trump people will keep squabbling and fighting for their own disjoint forms of fantastic extremism.
And we Democrats will win the White House can carry on keeping the country together.