Republicans Are Writing Off Ted Cruz For A Reason That Doesn't Make Sense

Ted Cruz refuses to be memed into oblivion. Months after being heckled out of the Republican primary, he came back for more this Wednesday, entering the Quicken Convention Center in Cleveland as Donald Trump serenaded him to Flo Rida’s “My House.” In an astonishing show of fidelity to his unfavorability (and his “principles”) Cruz refused to endorse Trump during his primetime speech, leaving those who weren’t busy booing him off the stage to question, “Why didn’t Ted Cruz endorse Trump?

Was it to make the TV so exciting that his daughters would have to watch him speak? Or was it actually a purely selfish move, intended to gain Cruz some attention while he splintered the party even further? Many Republicans think the latter.

Republicans are claiming that refusing to endorse the Republican nominee, and dishonoring the agreement he signed during his campaign, makes Cruz something much worse than an establishment hold-out: a virtual Hillary supporter. According to CNN, top campaign donor Sheldon Adelson was one of the first to express how much this sickened him, as Adelson immediately rescinded his invitation that Cruz join him in his donor suite, and denied Cruz entry when he stopped by. Republican delegates, quick to scream in Cruz’s face as he and his wife passed through the arena, also had some sharp criticism to offer. CNN also reported that Jonathan Barnett, a committeeman and delegate from Arkansas expressed a sentiment felt by many when he said, “He’s self-centered… All he did is ruin his political career.”

I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees the contradiction in this statement. Pinch me as I make this potentially pro-Cruz point, but if breaking his pact to the Republican party was indeed political suicide, how is that a selfish move? Ted Cruz stated in a meeting Thursday morning that his refusal to endorse had something to do with Trump’s personal attacks on his wife, Heidi, and his father. So was it selfish in the way that he’d rather defend his family’s honor than ingratiate himself with the Republican establishment in time for a 2020 bid? Or is it possible that Ted Cruz wasn't being selfish at all, but true to his principles? Did Cruz actually make this move because he feels the American people deserve some loyalty to his beloved conservative Republican ideals?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees the contradiction in this statement. Pinch me as I make this potentially pro-Cruz point, but if breaking his pact to the Republican party was indeed political suicide, how is that a selfish move?

That alternative would be refreshing to viewers who witnessed Paul Ryan's speech yesterday, during which he praised Trump through his teeth while single tears trickled down his porcelain cheeks (missed by the HD cameras, I imagine).

My guess is neither of these conjectures are spot on. Ted Cruz wasn’t being self-centered at the expense of his career, he was being smug – smug enough to live under the assumption that sticking it to Trump will benefit him grandly in the future. As Politico’s Glenn Thrush pointed out Thursday morning, in reference to his now infamous speech, “Cruz seemed to genuinely savor his moment in the spotlight, in his love-to-be-hated Pete Rose way, a visiting team player delighting in torturing the home-team crowd.” Cruz was toying with Trump supporters, watching his speech through the eyes of his Evangelicals die-hards glued to their TVs at home, and absorbing every crazed “boo” through his pores to make him stronger.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Cruz is reveling in his prediction that the current Trump-steria will result in either an apocalypse, or a defeat by Hillary Clinton – two scenarios which would likely lead to Republican voters fleeing back to Cruz for safety. At that time, I imagine Cruz will be more than willing to welcome refugees. In contrast to what some have offered, Cruz is not a naïve attention-seeker, nor is he a hero of conservatism, overcome with devotion to his family. He’s just dreaming of a day, on the other side of 2016, when he will get to be the one to say “I told you so.”