After the long, caustic summer months of the GOP primary, and all the myriad insults and attacks and conspiracy theories, Donald Trump has finally beaten Ted Cruz. Not in the electoral sense, as that happened just after his walloping of the Texas senator in the Indiana primary. But in a deeper sense, one that could have big implications for the Texas senator's career going forward. Cruz endorsed Trump, despite how many times he's hated on him, all of which were for entirely sympathetic and justifiable reasons.
In short, Trump has claimed the last few inches of Cruz's political soul by securing his endorsement. And this endorsement came mere months after Trump called Cruz a liar, a "basket-case," threatened to "spill the beans" on his wife, Heidi, suggested his father might have been involved in the assassination of former president John F. Kennedy, and hit him with a litany of other slights and insults.
It's odd for Cruz to turn around and back Trump now, especially after his dramatic speech at the Republican National Convention, in which he conspicuously didn't endorse him. It's as though Cruz drew a bad hand, played it into a pretty good hand, pushed in all his chips, and promptly folded.
If you're looking for any additional evidence that you shouldn't take this endorsement seriously, here are five times Cruz has made his disdain for the Donald very clear.
1. He Called Trump A "Sniveling Coward"
In the aftermath of Trump's senseless and misogynistic attacks on Cruz's wife, which included a vague threat to "spill the beans" on her, and the retweeting of a photo comparing her looks unfavorably to those of Trump's own wife, Melania, Cruz let him have it. In a turn of phrase that looks awfully bad now that he's endorsed him, Cruz called Trump a "sniveling coward."
It's not easy to tick me off. I don't get angry often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that'll do it every time. Donald, you're a sniveling coward, and leave Heidi the hell alone.
2. He Called Trump A "Pathological Liar" And A "Narcissist"
After Trump first indulged his bizarre conspiracy theory that Cruz's father, Rafael, had been photographed with Lee Harvey Oswald prior the the Kennedy assassination, the hanging implication being that he was somehow involved, Cruz condemned Trump in similarly strident terms, calling him a "narcissist" and a "pathological liar."
I'm going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump. This man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies, he lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. ... The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist. A narcissist at a level I don't think this country has ever seen.
Cruz also called Trump "utterly amoral."
3. He Called Trump A "Serial Philanderer"
Let it not be said Cruz didn't get personal with Trump, too. In the same speech in which he essentially called Trump a delusion liar and lacking any moral compass, he hit the thrice-married businessman as a "serial philanderer." Although in fairness, Trump himself reportedly admitted that his history of infidelity is "fair game."
4. He Attacked Trump With A Line Stolen From A Michael Douglas Movie
Cruz is well known as a lover of movies, pop culture, and bad impressions, as his cringe-worthy BuzzFeed audition reel for The Simpsons demonstrated last year. But you generally want your outraged defenses of your family to be a little less scripted than, you know, lines from Michael Douglas' role in The American President. "If Donald wants to get in a character fight, he's better off sticking with me, because Heidi is way out of his league."
5. Said He Wasn't Trump's "Servile Puppy Dog"
After pointedly not endorsing Trump at the RNC, Cruz explained to the Texas delegation the next day why he wasn't willing to line up behind Trump:
I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father. And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi that I’m going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say "thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father."
Now, needless to say, it's not as if Cruz has only ever said negative things about Trump. Quite the contrary: Back before it became clear Trump was a genuine threat to win the nomination, when Cruz still thought he'd be a useful presence in the race to disrupt the power of the GOP establishment (Cruz ran as a staunch anti-establishment figure), he said some downright glowing things about him. For example, this tweet that haunted him for so many months, calling Trump "terrific."
Ultimately, the flip-flop might be the single most damaging part of all this for Cruz. It seems nothing really matters to Cruz beyond which way the wind is blowing, even if that means endorsing someone who viciously attacked his family, called him a "basket-case" on national television, and never once apologized.