I Thought Trump Sabotaged Cruz

I’ll admit that my eyes were kind of glazing over as I listened to Ted Cruz deliver his speech tonight. He was talking about freedom and basic conservative ideas that virtually all Republicans agree with. He even seemed to be warming up to making some kind of tepid case for Trump by talking about Brexit and how people worldwide are sick and tired of the political establishment. And then, rather suddenly, the New York delegation began making a lot of noise. There was commotion in the hall. Cruz stumbled on his words and stopped. He looked down at the crowd and said, “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.”

But that only seemed to egg them on.

Cruz tried to continue but it was difficult to ignore the heckling he was taking. And then Trump arrived in the hall which caused the cameras to pan and a little more of an uproar and a commotion. Pretty soon, the lights seemed to dim and Cruz had disappeared from the stage.

Almost immediately Tweets started arriving in my feed informing me that Heidi Cruz needed to be escorted out of the arena for her safety and that Cruz had nearly been assaulted near a luxury suite. Then I heard he had been turned away from Sheldon Adelson’s suite.

It all seemed highly coordinated to humiliate Cruz.

My suspicions on this were heightened when I saw that Trump had told a reporter that he had loved the Cruz speech and then Tweeted that he’d seen the speech two hours before it was delivered and let him deliver it anyway. I saw a Cruz aide say that the Trump people knew for two days that he wouldn’t be specifically endorsing him.

But when I watched the reaction on television and social media, it was a totally different story in which Cruz had sandbagged Trump and bravely dissed him by being critical and unexpectedly refusing to endorse him.

So, I was confused. In my thinking, Trump had identified the point in the speech where Cruz called upon people to vote their conscience as the point at which the New York delegation should erupt in protest, and then he timed his entrance for just after that. Others were prepped to savage Cruz for violating his pledge and call him persona non grata in Cleveland and in the party. It was Trump’s final revenge.

No one else saw it that way, though, so I began to doubt myself. Had I simply imagined what I thought I saw? Had I totally misinterpreted what was happening right in front of my eyes?

That’s when I found the transcript and tried to identify what it was that Cruz had actually said that would have caused the whole New York delegation to spontaneously erupt in anger. After all, I had admittedly been watching the speech in a detached state of crushing boredom. Perhaps I had missed obvious cues. Here’s what I found:

And, if we stand together and choose freedom, our future will be brighter. Freedom will bring back jobs and raise wages. Freedom will lift people out of dependency to the dignity of work.

We can do this. Forty-Seven years ago to this day, America put the very first man on the moon.

That was the power of freedom. Our party, the Republican party, was founded to defeat slavery.

Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Together we passed the Civil Rights Act, and together we fought to eliminate Jim Crow Laws.

That’s our collective legacy, although the media will never share it with you. Those were fights for freedom, and so is this.

Sergeant Michael Smith stood up to protect our freedom. So do the soldiers, and sailors, and airmen, and Marines everyday fighting radical Islamic terrorism.

And, so did the family of Alton Sterling who bravely called to end the violence. So did the families of those murdered at the Charleston-Emanuel AME Church who forgave that hateful, bigoted, murder.

And, so can we. We deserve leaders who stand for principal, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect from everybody. And, to those listening, please don’t stay home in November.

If you love our country, and love our children as much as you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom, and to be faithful to the constitution.

[BOOING ERUPTS]

I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.

I gotta be honest. I don’t see why these words would, by themselves, prompt such outrage. First of all, it wasn’t clear what Cruz was going to say next. How could people know that he wasn’t going to tell people to vote for Trump in his next sentence?

Secondly, he was telling his own supporters not to stay home in November, which was little more than an acknowledgment that a lot of his voters are reluctant to vote for Trump. Only by a kind of presumptuous inference could people take Cruz’s words to mean that Trump is not a man of principle and cannot be trusted to uphold the Constitution. The imprecation to love and forgive and to cast aside anger was only a slight to Trump if you already believed that Trump would do none of those things.

Even if you felt the sting of that “vote your conscience” phrase, remember that Cruz began his speech by saying “I want to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night. And, like each of you, I want to see the principals that our party believes prevail in November.” And then he spent considerable time laying out a case against Obama and Clinton that Cruz and Trump voters alike would find pleasing and agreeable.

In other words, he simply didn’t say anything at that particular point in the speech that would logically inspire a spontaneous stomping protest of outrage. On the other hand, if you had read the speech ahead of time and were planning to boo Cruz off the stage, that was the logical point to do it. It was the point in which he failed to say the magic words. That was knowable with the speech in hand, but not knowable if you were just listening to the speech and had no idea what was coming next or how it would end.

To me, it’s clear that Trump coordinated the whole thing, told the New York delegation when to protest, timed his entrance for just that time, prepped his running mate and others to have their talking points ready, and “loved” the result, as he said.

Yet, as clever as this was, he didn’t consider that he’d be letting Cruz become a martyr and a conscientious objector.

Anyway, that’s the way I saw it as it unfolded and that’s the way it still looks to me.

Maybe I’m crazy.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.