While millions of Republican primary voters have chosen Donald Trump as the party’s nominee, Bill Kristol and a small but well-heeled group of Washington insiders are preparing a third party effort to block Trump’s path to the White House.
.. In addition to alleging that Trump is lacking in principles and character, Kristol claims that the Republican candidate is a crackpot conspiracy theorist, a disqualifying trait. Kristol’s evidence is a remark Trump made on the eve of the Indiana primary suggesting that Ted Cruz’s father might have something to hide about his alleged acquaintance with Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Kristol wrote:
Calling in to Fox and Friends, Donald Trump, as Politico summarized it, “alleged that Ted Cruz’s father was with John F. Kennedy’s assassin shortly before he murdered the president, parroting a National Enquirer story claiming that Rafael Cruz was pictured with Lee Harvey Oswald handing out pro-Fidel Castro pamphlets in New Orleans in 1963.”
The liberal writers at Politico can perhaps be forgiven for reporting that the Enquirer only claimed that Oswald and the senior Cruz were pictured together. The Enquirer actually published the picture.
“Here’s Trump in his own crazed words,” Kristol continues:
[Trump:] “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Kennedy’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it. I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.”
Comments Kristol: “What’s horrible is a leading presidential candidate trading in crackpot conspiracy theories.”
So it might be, if Trump were actually putting forward a conspiracy theory. But what we have here, obviously, is not a theory but some Trumpian campaign mischief — not dissimilar in form to his earlier suggestion that because Ted Cruz was born in Canada, he might not be able to actually run for president even if he were to win the nomination. These were both campaign tricks — dirty tricks if you like — to throw a rival off balance and gain an advantage.
He demonstrated staggering ignorance of what the judiciary branch does with an emphatic reference to a “bill” that several federal judges had “signed.” He seems to believe that the president can jail a political foe, hire and fire generals at will, and command the military to break the law.
He’s clueless about free speech. He threatened to sue Ted Cruz for showing a video of his actual, undisputed pro-abortion comments from the past. After the conservative journalist Rich Lowry assessed his candidacy unkindly, Trump suggested that the Federal Communications Commission fine him.
Words No Longer Matter
But Cruz is now backing a man for the nation’s highest office that he considers to be a liar, a coward, and amoral. Those are charges you don’t just take back or minimize, and to do so reinforces the cynicism that many voters have about the political process.
Honor Thy Father?
.. Cruz had a pretty good reason for calling Trump all those things back in the spring: Trump ran an astonishingly dirty campaign against him!
.. Finally, Trump spread a rumor, based off a grainy photo in the National Enquirer, that Cruz’s father Rafael was involved in the Kennedy assassination—and he continued raising it the day after he accepted the Republican nomination for president.
.. Cruz has worked diligently over the years to forge a political identity that can be summed up thusly: He is a conservative who fights on principle, whether or not that accords with the wishes of his party’s leadership. By bowing down to a man he has attacked so harshly, Cruz significantly dilutes that brand.
.. Cruz now leaves Ohio Governor John Kasich as perhaps the most Trump prominent holdout who is eyeing another White House bid in four years.
What About Cleveland?
.. If he was planning to honor his commitment to support the Republican nominee, why did he make a dramatic show of snubbing Trump at the convention in Cleveland
Promises, Promises (Trump Doesn’t Keep ’Em)
.. The policy reasons that Cruz cites are all based on promises Trump has made, including his two separate lists of potential Supreme Court appointments. Yet as Cruz himself has pointed out, Trump is never more slippery than when it comes to policy.
At the time of his convention speech, there was compelling political logic for the ambitious firebrand to steer clear of Trump. Cruz appears likely to run for president again, and Trump, at the time, looked like was headed toward a blowout loss. Not to mention, Trump had essentially called Cruz’s wife unattractive and erroneously linked his father to JFK’s assassination.
Cruz’s allies believed if he played it right, he could emerge from the election as one of the last principled conservatives — the final bulwark against a candidate who violated many of the values conservatives hold dear.
But with Trump approaching Hillary Clinton in the polls, Cruz’s diss had become more of a liability: A narrow Trump loss might have been pinned on Cruz for keeping conservatives home on Election Day because they were following his lead.