Were they serious? ? In an age when Donald Trump is a presidential nominee, what does “serious” even mean? In any case, the cybercomics who fanned the flames of the Cruz-Zodiac meme will someday be first-ballot entrants in the Trolling Hall of Fame.
Finally, on the morning of the Indiana primary, Cruz woke up to hear opponent Trump babbling that Cruz’s own father had been hanging out with Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a bizarre take on a ridiculous National Enquirer story that Trump, of course, believed instantly. Trump brought this up on Fox and Friends, which let him run the ball all the way to the end zone. “I mean, what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald, shortly before the death – before the shooting?” Trump asked. “It’s horrible.”
American politics had never seen anything like this: a presidential candidate derided as a haggardly masturbating incarnation of Satan, the son of a presidential assassin’s accomplice, and himself an infamous uncaptured serial killer.
Despite the media humiliations, Cruz talked passionately of his supporters’ resolve. “Just a few days ago, two young kids, ages four and six, handed me two envelopes full of change,” he said. “All of their earnings from their lemonade stand. They wanted the campaign to have it.”
The crowd cooed: Awwww! There was no way he could quit now and let those kids down. Except that moments later, Cruz did just that, announcing he was suspending his campaign because “the path to victory has been foreclosed.” Then he fled the stage like he was double-parked.
The air vanished from the ballroom. Cruz supporters went nuts.
Nooooo! they screamed, hugging each other and crying. Many volunteers were from faraway states. They expected to be continuing on somewhere the next morning. Now they were all basically fired.
“What the fuck do we do now?” whispered one.
The pundits present were less emotional. “Does he get to use the lemonade money to pay campaign debts?” wondered one.
As ignominious an end as this was for Cruz, it was a million times worse for the Republican establishment.
The party of Nixon, Reagan and two Bushes had needed a win by Cruz, a man not just disliked but loathed by the party elite, to stave off a takeover by Trump.
And yet Cruz’s main pitch to his voters had been that between himself and Trump, he was the one less connected to the Republican Party. “Cruz is the true outsider,” was how one supporter put it in Indiana.
Cruz volunteer Dan Porter seemed stunned with grief after the results came in, but his sadness was reserved for Cruz, not the Republican Party. He couldn’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that so many people had voted for Trump, a man who’d “been a Democrat his whole life,” while a dedicated constitutionalist like Cruz had been so roundly rejected.
So lost in thought that he stared at the carpet as he spoke, he gave just an incidental shake of the head when asked what the future of the GOP would be now. It was as if the question wasn’t even that important.