Rod Dreher reacts to Cruz’s refusal to endorse Trump during his convention speech last night:
Erm, has that ever happened before? A major speaker at a national party convention pointedly refusing to endorse its nominee? That’s what Ted Cruz did tonight. I do not like Ted Cruz one bit, but I think this is going to serve him well in the long run.
I’m not so sure about that last part. Cruz is counting on a Trump loss, which is not a bad bet to make, but he also seems to think that the millions of Trump primary voters that already chose not to vote for him the first time will reward his self-serving display from last night in a future cycle. Many people, including Dreher, have mentioned that Cruz preserved his “honor,” and that has struck me as a very odd way to interpret what he did. Like anything else Cruz has done in his political career, he put on a show last night because he thought it would give him a political advantage and aid his future ambitions. He calculated that it would be most to his advantage to appear at the convention and also very useful for his political career in the future to avoid an explicit endorsement of the nominee. That way he gets to have his “Reagan in ’76” moment without tying himself too closely to Trump. Cruz thought he could have it both ways, but I don’t think he pulled it off. He earned the lasting ire of many Trump supporters while gaining a brief surge of media coverage that won’t help him in years to come.
It’s not clear to me why it is honorable to refuse to give an endorsement of a nominee at a party convention while benefiting from the prominent speaking slot he was given. The first words that come to mind to describe that are petty or selfish, and that would be consistent from what we know of Cruz from his past behavior. Cruz is being lauded for his “honor” because Trump is awful, but Trump’s awfulness doesn’t turn Cruz’s self-serving behavior into a noble act. Cruz is nothing if not an opportunist, and when he thought it suited his interest to go along with Trump he did so. Now he has concluded the opposite, and has acted accordingly. Cruz has burned many more bridges in the party with the show he put on, and he made sure to remind the rest of us why so many people dislike and distrust him.