This moment was inevitably coming for the past three years, and now it's finally here: Final, ritualistic, mass and mutual Republicide, the last dying gurgle on the funeral pyre of the GOP civil war, as Ted Cruz and the Republican "establishment" drag each other to well-deserved political hell:
“There’s a lot of people who don’t feel he can appeal to people across the board,” [Orrin] Hatch said. “For us to win, we have to appeal the moderates and independents. We can’t just act like that only one point of view is the only way to go. That’s where Ted is going to have some trouble.”…
“An awful lot of us really didn’t like to be targeted as corrupt, establishment bought by the lobby establishment,” [Dan] Coats added. “It sure looks like someone was using it as a way to gain notoriety as the only true conservative in Washington.”…
“I think people are concerned,” [John] Cornyn told CNN. “Because obviously the top of the ticket will have a big bearing on whether we’ll hold a majority of the Senate. We don’t need any headwinds from the top of the ticket. We need some tailwinds.”…
“There’s no doubt he has harmed relationships among people,” said Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee. “I would assume that all members would work with the elected president for the good of the country. But there is no doubt there would be strains in the working relationship.”
You can't really blame them for feeling this way, because Ted Cruz has been a fratricidal dick ever since he arrived in the Senate three years ago. The Defundageddon/shutdown showdown debacle of 2013 wasn't an isolated blip; the Texas junior senator has gone pointedly and deliberately out of his way to alienate pretty much every Pachyderm in Washington, including many of his fellow Tea Partiers, at one time or another. On the one hand, Cruz did so to raise his national profile in anticipation of his current presidential run, which makes some sense in a really cynical sort of way; but on the other, it made no sense when you need the support of those same fellow Republicans in order to become leader of that same party as its presidential nominee. Biting the hands of those whose votes you need is a counter-productive strategy at best. And right now, when he's reached the top of the polls and has a huge bullseye on him from all sides, when he could really use support and defending from his fellow Republicans, they're not only not there for him, but are insanely talking up the OTHER guy who has spent months ripping them, Donald Trump, the New York liberal who's attempting a hostile takeover of their party, because Cruz has been antagonizing them for even longer. As I said the other day, what goes around comes around, and this is one big ass-biting load of karma coming due at the worse possible time.
But the question I asked about the value of Sarah Palin's endorsement of Trump applies equally to "the establishment strikes back": How much does it really matter? How many votes will it influence or move?
Cruz, as is his penchant, is rubbing his hands together with glee, believing that the "Washington cartel" is playing right into his hands:
“Donald is publicly bragging about how all the big establishment players are getting behind him, and his criticism of me is he said I went to Washington and actually stood up and fought in Washington and Donald has said, well, the problem he has with me is that I won’t go along to get along in Washington,” the Texas senator said in an interview Wednesday night with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
“He’ll go along to get along,” Cruz said. “I’ve got to tell you Sean, you know the conservatives across this country, I don’t think the problem with Washington is we haven’t had enough Republicans willing to cut deals with the Democrats.”…
“And the establishment seems to have made a determination Donald Trump’s a guy they can make a deal with who will continue the cronyism and corporate welfare and bailouts for big banks,” he added. “And I think that we’re seeing conservatives getting behind us, and we’re seeing the Washington establishment getting behind Donald Trump, interestingly enough.”
About his observations, Senator Cruz is spot-on. About his predictions, I want to believe he's correct. Trump should be blowing himself up with his base, combusting his candidacy by betraying the supporters who got on his bandwagon and have been there ever since based on his coarse blasting of the Republican "establishment" - or Jeb Bush, at least. Trumplicans, or at least the Tea Party contingent, should be abandoning Trump for Cruz in droves. Certainly that's what Cruz has been counting on all along.
But here's a terrifying thought: what if Trump figures that he's got the "populist" vote wrapped up and is now using the "establishment's" utter loathing of Senator Cruz to broaden his base and lock up their support as well? What if Trump is going for the proverbial jugular and attempting to finish off the race right here and now?
And what if he's right?
How much does the GOP "establishment" detest Ted Cruz? This much:
Burr vehemently denies saying this, so YMMV. But it appears that no matter which of the two were to become POTUS, both Trump and Cruz would be the most "without a party" presidents since John Tyler 170+ years ago. And Cruz would be moreso even than Trump.
That's what happens when you burn every intra-party bridge and never build any to begin with.