Cruz may be the only Republican who understands Trump

Mark Leibovich:
... what I like about what Cruz did last night: He embraced the professional-wrestling ethic that Trump has so fully imposed on this campaign. He leaned full-on into the spectacle. The half-baked conciliatory gestures that erstwhile Trump antagonists like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Scott Walker have offered so far have been the work of mere politicians; Cruz proved himself to be the only one among the defeated who is truly playing Trump’s game. On some level, I think Trump must have respected it. The nominee’s entrance into the hall just as the hecklers were getting going at the smugly grinning Cruz was a cinematic nod — not quite a wink between the combatants, but something awfully close.

“Party unity” is a lie. Everyone here in Cleveland knows that. Any attempts to disguise the obvious with another hostage-video testimonial like Rubio’s last night just makes your teeth hurt after a while. If voters really crave “authenticity,” why not just be authentic? Is there really anyone that would not see as “authentic” Cruz’s response to a man who had insulted his wife, questioned his citizenship and accused his father of being complicit in killing John F. Kennedy?

In most cases, being booed offstage on national television is not a great look. But we’re well beyond “in most cases” in this campaign. Yes, Cruz’s nonendorsement speech won him the ire of Trump delegates, “party loyalists” (what even are those now?) and the Donald’s political butler, Chris Christie; Christie called Cruz’s speech “awful” and “selfish,” which in turn led Cruz’s former campaign manager, Jeff Roe, to say that Christie had “turned over his political testicles long ago.” But Cruz played the arena, as Triple-H or the Donald would. He understood that Trump doesn’t just want his former opponents to endorse him — he expects them to submit to him. This nominee does not consider it his job to reach out and favor his vanquished opponents with magnanimity and grace. His willingness to humiliate the likes of Christie, mocking his weight (“No more Oreos”), among other things, should make that obvious.
Cruz statement that people should vote their conscience and the Trump response suggest the nominee does not have much faith in the independent judgment of the voters.  He wants their submission to him too.  Cruz again showed that he is the most fearless politician in America today, and it warmed the hearts of many of his supporters and put down a marker for the future after Trump fails either as a candidate or as a President.


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