Martin Longman asked a great question, How Did Cruz Become the Sane Alternative? A lot of people think the most likely scenario for the Republican nominating contest is that Trump will drop out and it will become a head to head match-up between Cruz and Marco Rubio. This narrative is presented as though it is a great relief. But how is that? Before Trump stopped being a joke, Ted Cruz was the crazy one that Republican elites were afraid of. Now we are supposed to think that he’s a statesman who can be trusted? That’s a reach.
The truth of the matter is that I fear Cruz more than Trump. There’s no question that Trump is not only a demagogue, but a damned fine one. Still, I think he’s at base a practical guy. He’ll say anything to get elected, but he isn’t going to destroy the world economy. If things go wrong, I think he will reverse course. On the other hand, Ted Cruz is a typical bitter ender. He is ideologically rigid. He always argues that if we just follow his One True Way™ then all will be fine. If a two week government shutdown doesn’t work, then a two month one will; and if not that, a two year one.
But what we are seeing in the Republican presidential campaign is what we’ve seen for decades with the Republican Party. Just look at the Bushes. First we had George HW Bush, and we thought he was pretty bad with his racist campaign. And then we got his eldest son who was equally as evil but spectacularly incompetent. And now we have Jeb Bush. A lot of conservatives have convinced themselves that Obama made the nation miss George W Bush. That didn’t happen. But Jeb has managed to make his older brother seem both less evil and incompetent.
Longman pointed out that, “Cruz is unapologetically at war with the mainstream of the party…” And he’s right to note that Rubio is no great shakes. Jonathan Chait pointed out some of his absurdity on Monday, Guns Don’t Kill People, Planes Kill People. This is in reference to Rubio’s ridiculous claim over the weekend that we can’t withhold guns from people on the no-fly list, because it is filled with errors. But of course, Rubio has no interest in getting rid of the no-fly list — or even fixing it. I’m sure if this lack of consistency were pointed out to Rubio, he would respond, “I’m not a logician, man.”
The larger issue was discussed in another Chait article, Donald Trump May Not Get the Nomination, but He Has Already Won. He showed Rubio’s disingenuousness — saying that Obama’s call for calm on Sunday was “cynical,” while only saying of Trump’s call for panic on Monday, “His habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together.” As Chait noted:
Whatever Marco Rubio truly believes, it is clear that he is determined to win the same votes by the same basic demagoguery as Trump. He just doesn’t do the whole comic-in-chief act of Benito Mussolini. Rubio, Cruz, Trump? They are all pretty much the same. The elites can pat themselves on the back about getting rid of Trump (if they do). But this is just a process that has repeated itself again and again in the GOP. It’s the reason why the party is so much worse than it was 40 years ago.