ChrisMaverick dotcom

Welcome to the Game, Ted Cruz…

Ted Cruz at RNC 2016Now see, I told you the 2016 RNC was going to be amazing fucking television!

So here’s the thing. It probably isn’t surprising to anyone that I don’t like Ted Cruz. In fact, back in the beforetime — the long, long ago — I often said that I actually wasn’t all that afraid of a Donald Trump presidency. I’ve always been far more afraid of a Ted Cruz presidency. I can handle a crazy moron in the Oval Office. I’m far more afraid of a sociopathic, ideological madman. A real life super-villain. That’s Ted Cruz. I don’t like the dude. But his speech last night probably did more to convince me to vote for him someday than any other politician’s speech ever. I mean, let’s not get crazy. He basically changed the odds that I’d ever vote for him from one in a billion to one in a million. It’s not going to happen, but that’s still a 100,000% increase, and that’s pretty fucking impressive.

Earlier today, my friend Mike asked me what my thoughts on it were and joked that I should explain it in pro-wrestling terms. That’s actually not that hard. Everything is professional wrestling, and last night, Ted Cruz went into business for himself.

For anyone who hasn’t been watching the greatest show on television this week, aka the Republican National Convention, last night was Ted Cruz’s big chance to speak at the convention. I actually wasn’t expecting him to speak at all. Trump had earlier said that no one was going to get to appear unless they were willing to set aside their differences and endorse him. That’s actually Trump’s right. He won. It’s his coming out party. He isn’t required to have anyone show up just to bad mouth him. I was quite surprised a few days ago when my friend Liz told me that Cruz was in fact on the docket. It appears as though they talked things out and came to an agreement. Unlike some other people who thought that meant an endorsement was coming, I never expected that. I figured Cruz would just go up and make a pseudo-magnamious canned response to unify the party leave it with that. The two just don’t like each other. A true endorsement from Cruz would likely leave a bad taste in his followers’ mouths. Instead you go up there and you say something like “we must beat Hillary Clinton at all costs. So for the good of the party, we must be united.” And then you leave the stage and hope for the best. This is basically what Marco Rubio did (very transparently and by a prepped video message because he couldn’t be bothered to go to the actual convention. Or, you just stay home all together like Jeb Bush and John Kasich did.

Nope, not Ted Cruz!

He actually started out with an OK but mediocre speech. It was fine, but generic, just like I said. I didn’t think I’d be addressing it at all. It wasn’t the best speech of the night; I thought I’d be writing about Eric Trump today (who actually gave a really good speech that no one even remembers because Ted upstaged him). Then he went into a tirade about all of the things that he expects out of commander-in-chief, auspiciously designed as an attack against Hillary Clinton, but in actuality, pretty clearly (based on things he’s said over the last year) a list of qualities that he believes Trump doesn’t have. He closed by imploring Republican voters to NOT stay home on election day, but instead to show up and “vote your conscience … up and down the ticket.” The crowd at the RNC wasn’t buying it. They realized what he was doing immediately and started chanting for him to “Endorse Trump!” Cruz could have ignored the chants, but he didn’t. Instead he responded with a very well ad libbed “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.” Which incited the crowd to start trying to boo him off the stage.

See, Ted Cruz knows how to play the heel. He knew what he was walking into. I might not like him. I might think he’s a religious zealot at best and a dangerous sociopath at worst. But he’s not stupid. Ted Cruz walked into the Quicken Loans Arena with the express intent of getting himself booed out of that building. The big question is why?

The reason I didn’t post this last night was that I stayed up til about 5AM watching cable news pundits analyze this. They’re pretty torn along four specific lines. 1) This was a brave move by a man who just couldn’t stand by and endorse someone he thought was wrong, even at the cost of his own political career. 2) This was a vindictive move because Trump, on multiple occasions, went on national television and insulted Cruz’s wife and claimed his father assassinated Kennedy. 3) This was a calculated move to position himself for 2020, but it was the wrong time and the wrong place and he probably did more political harm to himself than good. (Most of the people in camp 2 and 3 think that Cruz probably should have just stayed home because he is ultimately killing his future career) 4) This was a calculated move to position himself for 2020, and while it’s going to hurt him in the short term, Cruz is playing the long game and this could work out for him very well. I’m in camp four and I’ll tell you why.

It certainly wasn’t an accident. Cruz knew that he was going rogue here. And he certainly knew that the was doing it in a hostile environment. I honestly think Ted Cruz from four months ago was delusional. Ted Cruz from four months ago honestly thought that once Bush, Rubio and the others dropped out of the race he was going to naturally ascend to the top. He honestly thought that the Republican base was looking for a guy like him. He was so delusional that he thought that being in a distant second place, with no mathematical path to victory, he could turn the tide by selecting Carly Fiorina, a woman who clearly NOBODY wanted, as a running mate was going to put him over the top. He believed these things… and this is why he failed.

This isn’t that Ted Cruz. This is Ted Cruz v2.0. I said a few times in the past that the brilliance of the Trump campaign early on (and where it differed from the Bernie Sanders campaign on the Democrat side) was that Trump wasn’t just threatening to rip the party in half. Trump made it clear that “if you don’t pick me I will burn this fucking house to the ground!” Bernie was never willing to do that (even if that’s what some of his supporters wanted). Last night, Ted Cruz showed up with a tank of gasoline and a zippo. He wasn’t really trying to be vague with his language. He was giving Republicans permission to vote for Hillary Clinton. He was saying “look, let her win. As horrible as she may be, she’s better than this idiot, and no matter how bad she fucks things up, I’ll be here to fix it in four years.” He wasn’t trying to hide it from the crowd. He was advertising it. He was taunting them with the fire. When the crowd started to turn on him, he didn’t shy away from his heel turn. He fanned the fucking flames with mastery of Ric Flair. And as the boos got louder he let them bathe over him. He took it all in.

Ted Cruz’s 2020 campaign for president started last night!

The reason Hillary is where she is today is that the second she officially threw in the towel to Barack Obama in 2008, she basically started campaigning for 2016. She created an image for herself where it was clear that she was positioning herself for the big job. People have been predicting that she’d become the first female president ever since. Arguably, Trump did the same thing by keeping his name in the news with the ridiculous birther debate and all of his other nonsense. They positioned themselves for eight years. They made themselves relevant. Ted Cruz has learned this lesson. And he’s going to try to do it in four.

No one is sure what’s going to happen this November, but the way I see it, we are in a wold with only four possible outcomes:

  1. Hillary wins and becomes a horrible fucking president.
  2. Hillary wins and becomes an amazing president.
  3. The Donald wins and becomes a horrible fucking president.
  4. The Donald wins and becomes an amazing president.

In scenario four, Ted Cruz’s future is over, no matter what. I actually think this is the least likely scenario. But I don’t really KNOW, so I’m going to give them all the same likelihood. There is a 25% chance that Donald Trump will win, build a wall, bring back torture, ban Muslims from the country and make America great again. We will enter an age of prosperity unlike any we have ever seen before. Anyone who doubted him will never be taken seriously again. If this happens, it wouldn’t have mattered if Ted had endorsed him. Donald would be a shoe in for reelection in 2020. And by 2024 we’d be begging one of his kids to run just to keep the dynasty going… or maybe we’d just repeal that pesky 22nd amendment so that Donald can be king for life.

From Ted Cruz’s point of view, the first and second scenario’s are identical. It doesn’t matter if Hillary causes World War III or personally cures cancer and ends world hunger. In either situation where she wins, she will be demonized by the Republican party and someone is going to have to run against her. Trump will be damaged goods and Cruz has now put himself in prime contention for the “I told you so” spot.

In scenario three, things get interesting. It’s pretty clear that even with the lovey dovey spectacle of the RNC going on right now, the GOP is pretty divided. Trump has his supporters, but a lot of people just don’t like him. That means that if he’s elected, there’s going to be a lot of scrutiny on him from Democrats and Republicans alike. He doesn’t even have to start World War III. Any mistake he makes is going to appear to be a problem with his outsider views (and his personality flaws) by the Republican base. In fact, not even just his mistakes. Anything he does that is against the party platform (which, quite frankly, is a lot… even by his own words) is going to make some people want an alternative after four years. Last night, Ted Cruz made it clear that he intends to be that “I told you so” alternative.

Obviously, I don’t think these situations are all equally likely, but since they’re all total unknowns, I think we pretty much have to treat them like they are. At best, right now, Hillary and The Donald each have a 50% chance of being on the ballot in 2020. They need to win right now. If they don’t no one is going to take them seriously for round two against the same candidate, and eight years from now, they’ll both be pushing 80. This is it for both of them. If they don’t become president now, then it’s never (and sorry, Bernie fans… he’s 74 right now… so he’s done too).

But Ted Cruz is 45. He’ll be 49 in four years and barring the situation where Trump creates an American Utopia, a 25% chance at best, you can be pretty sure that he’s going to be a factor in the election of 2020 no matter who wins this November. 75% likelihood of running vs. 50% for Clinton and Trump and no one else in America has any meaningful numbers at all right now.

Ladies and Gentelmen… at this moment… at this very moment, Ted Cruz is your 2020 United States presidential front-runner.

om

29 comments for “Welcome to the Game, Ted Cruz…

  1. avatar
    July 21, 2016 at 11:11 am

    (as in, eeenteresting…)

    1. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 11:35 am

      Thank you

  2. avatar
    July 21, 2016 at 11:13 am

    You might be interested in this exchange from Andrew Sullivan’s liveblog

    10.02 p.m. The reality television dimension doesn’t get any more prominent than Trump physically attempting to distract attention from the runner-up – like some guest on Maury.

    10:20 p.m. A reader writes:

    Trump walking in to distract people from Cruz’s speech isn’t just like something from Maury. It’s a trope from pro wrestling.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/07/andrew-sullivan-liveblogs-the-rnc-night-3.html

    1. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 11:36 am

      Yeah, I thought the Trump entrance was interesting too. I just didn’t have a way to work it into the article because this was more about Cruz than Trump.

      But for the record, Trump was part of the WWE for a while. A lot of his stage presence is totally honed from pro-wrestling. The silhouette and fog machine entrance Monday night was classic!

    2. avatar
      July 22, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Haha… so, re: Steve Shaffer’s comment below, I wonder if “wrestling fans” make up a large fraction of his base…

    3. avatar
      July 22, 2016 at 8:41 am

      anecdotally (i.e. from the wrestling fans I am friends with on Facebook) it feels like they make up the same percentage as everyone else.

    4. avatar
      July 22, 2016 at 8:55 am

      Completely understandable. Hillary has to find a way to address this issue of job instability across educational levels.

  3. avatar
    July 21, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Excellent analysis. I mean, asking me whether I’d prefer Trump or Cruz is like asking whether I’d rather be shot or stabbed, but Cruz’s most terrifying attribute during the primaries is now his strength: he’s a man of principle who won’t bow to the political wind of the day. There’s something admiral about that – although a wheeler-dealer might be less totalitarian about things, given the right incentives.

    Remember V.C. Andrews, of “Flowers in the Attic?” I got rid of my whole circa puberty collection of hers recently, but I still remember one line from a charming businessman villain: “If you don’t know whether to lie or tell the truth, then tell the truth, because then at least you get to keep your ‘integrity.'” Ted Cruz had better be watching his donuts for arsenic.

    1. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 11:44 am

      The talking heads that i mentioned in groups 2 and 3 were pretty down on him, both the liberal ones and the conservatives. The going consensus was that this made him look like sour grapes and would be politically bad.

      The thing is, that doesn’t matter for Cruz. While he certainly doesn’t have the “devil may care” swagger than Trump has, I think he has finally realized that there’s a lot of people who simply don’t like him. I don’t think he understood how hated he was before. Now he does. So doing the conventional thing and being magnanimous wasn’t really going to buy him anything.

      In his case not only does he get to keep his integrity (from his POV) but he had absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. If Trump wins does a great job, it doesn’t matter. Trump will run again in 2020 and all jokes aside, in 2024 if Trump has had 8 years of presidency, Cruz’s platform is so far divorced from what Trump wants that he knows that he won’t be what people are looking for to continue that version of the Republican party then. And there’s just no way for him to guarantee his own relevancy for 12 years. So taking the aim here is just a good move.

      And if he gets to do it by 1) being honest and 2) twisting the knife in the back of the man who called his wife ugly and his father a murderer, so much the better.

  4. avatar
    July 21, 2016 at 11:32 am

    One other piece of the “why did he do it” puzzle: this is fundamentally who Cruz is. And I don’t mean that in a “stands by his principles” way, I mean it in a “doesn’t play nicely with the team” way. Here are a bunch of examples of Cruz doing similar things: http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-03-14/the-many-many-reasons-republican-senators-can-t-stand-ted-cruz

    1. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Right. I actually saw that article when I was researching this. And like I was saying to Liz above, I think the big difference between Ted today and Ted 4 months ago is that he now realizes the things on that list are not necessarily what other people want. He doesn’t want to change who he is, so he’s learning (or trying to) how to play it as a strength,

  5. avatar
    July 21, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Bill Watts always said the best heels were the ones who thought they were the heroes of their own story lines, just that the people couldn’t see that.

    1. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 11:51 am

      yeah, that’s a good motivation for villains in general even outside of wrestling.

      Look at comic books. What makes people like Dr. Doom and Ozymandias compelling is that they know that they’re the ones who are actually “right” and it’s just that the rest of us morons can’t see it.

    2. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Somebody get Cruz the Freebirds Hair Cream.

  6. avatar
    July 21, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Nicely done, but your math (aside from the probabilities) is off. Remember, according to some pundits, the other candidate will destroy the U.S.A.

    In which case, Cruz may be auditioning to be president of Texas.

    1. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      Ok, sure… But lacking a USA to be president of doesn’t change his prospects in relation to the other two, so it’s basically a wash then.

      And if that happens, I expect he’d consider being president of the nation of Texas an acceptable consolation prize.

  7. avatar
    July 21, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    The astronaut they had speaking the other night pointedly did not endorse Trump at the end of her speech, either.

    1. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      A few people didn’t. But nobody cares about most of them.

      And Cruz didn’t just not endorse he out and out implied that people should consider voting against Trump.

  8. avatar
    July 21, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    My question is, when he runs in 2020, what party will he run for? I honestly think, unless a dramatic change occurs within the GOP that truly does unite them, the Republican Party is nearing a fracture point that will leave 3-4 spiritual successors in its wake. Clearly the Libertarian side of the party that hasn’t fully accepted the fact that they aren’t really Republicans aren’t on board with the majority of the party, the evangelicals and other far right religious supporters aren’t on board with the direction the party took this year, and even the neocons and more traditional conservatives recognize Trump isn’t one of them and his supporters don’t share their values. And I have no clue how to start categorizing the Trump supporters. Scared largely uneducated bigots that are easily swayed by propaganda rather than policy? I appreciate what Cruz did largely because I think it was yet one more step towards ensuring a fractured party.

    1. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      he’d run as a Republican. I mean, he might still not get the nomination. Especially if Trump wins and does a mediocre job, but his foot is in the door (as I pointed out, assuming Trump does a good job, then Cruz is toast anyway).

      so from a micro viewpoint, I agree with you. The Republicans really are several distinct parties married together by convenience (evangelicals, tea partiers, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, right leaning libertarians, neocons). There is overlap, of course, but it certainly is not the case that the fiscal conservatives necessarily are evangelicals or vice versa. The democrats actually have this problem too, though maybe not quite as diverse (progressives, social liberals, left leaning libertarians, Occupy/BLM/Bernieite grassroots).

      The US political system being a first-past the post voting mechanism strongly lends itself towards binary party dynamics. It doesn’t have to be democrats vs. republicans, but the mechanism works such that in order to get elected you need to tie together groups that more or less can get a long or the other side will do so because in a 3+ system there’s no guarantee that anyone hits the post.

      So from a birds eye view, I don’t think the party will actually “split in 4” or at least not permanently. Instead there will likely either be a shift of control and focus (the way the Neocons managed in the Bush years and the Tea Party did in the Obama years) or there will be a short term mass fracture and some other party will rebuild from the pieces (which could call itself the republicans, but could just as easily be something else). Maybe the more liberal groups move to the libertarians, the old GOP dies and the Dems are forced to readjust too. Who knows. The point is, the landscape just encourages compromise through two parties. At least in the long term. In the short term, I like the chaos. It forces both major parties to reevaluate constantly.

      That’s why i like supporting 3rd parties. Maybe the Greens will never rise to prominence, but if they do well it forces the Dems to readjust which forces the Reps to readjust.

      Back to Cruz. What he’ll try to do is run as Rep and restructure the party so his evangelicals have the control. This might be easier if Trump either loses or wins and fucks things up. There will be a schism and his hope will be to usurp power in the chaos. The party won’t look like what it does today. But then Trump’s version doesn’t look like what it did 4 years ago either.

      Though it’s not quite as obvious, that’s pretty much what Trump has done to rise to power in the first place.

    2. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      he’d run as a Republican. I mean, he might still not get the nomination. Especially if Trump wins and does a mediocre job, but his foot is in the door (as I pointed out, assuming Trump does a good job, then Cruz is toast anyway).

      so from a micro viewpoint, I agree with you. The Republicans really are several distinct parties married together by convenience (evangelicals, tea partiers, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, right leaning libertarians, neocons). There is overlap, of course, but it certainly is not the case that the fiscal conservatives necessarily are evangelicals or vice versa. The democrats actually have this problem too, though maybe not quite as diverse (progressives, social liberals, left leaning libertarians, Occupy/BLM/Bernieite grassroots).

      The US political system being a first-past the post voting mechanism strongly lends itself towards binary party dynamics. It doesn’t have to be democrats vs. republicans, but the mechanism works such that in order to get elected you need to tie together groups that more or less can get a long or the other side will do so because in a 3+ system there’s no guarantee that anyone hits the post.

      So from a birds eye view, I don’t think the party will actually “split in 4” or at least not permanently. Instead there will likely either be a shift of control and focus (the way the Neocons managed in the Bush years and the Tea Party did in the Obama years) or there will be a short term mass fracture and some other party will rebuild from the pieces (which could call itself the republicans, but could just as easily be something else). Maybe the more liberal groups move to the libertarians, the old GOP dies and the Dems are forced to readjust too. Who knows. The point is, the landscape just encourages compromise through two parties. At least in the long term. In the short term, I like the chaos. It forces both major parties to reevaluate constantly.

      That’s why i like supporting 3rd parties. Maybe the Greens will never rise to prominence, but if they do well it forces the Dems to readjust which forces the Reps to readjust.

      Back to Cruz. What he’ll try to do is run as Rep and restructure the party so his evangelicals have the control. This might be easier if Trump either loses or wins and fucks things up. There will be a schism and his hope will be to usurp power in the chaos. The party won’t look like what it does today. But then Trump’s version doesn’t look like what it did 4 years ago either.

      Though it’s not quite as obvious, that’s pretty much what Trump has done to rise to power in the first place.

  9. avatar
    July 21, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    This is probably a far fetched theory, but… what if The Donald and Cruz planned this. What if the idea was to give Trump’s campaign a narrative arc and to lower the bar on expectations for Trump so low that if Trump makes the slightest effort to learn a little foreign policy that he starts to look like Rocky training for the big fight..

    1. avatar
      July 21, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      Nah. Donald hates Ted. To be fair, everyone hates Ted.

      And if that was the case and it works then Ted is beyond dumb. If Trump succeeds and does well then Cruz’s career is essentially over. His only real shot at this point is trump failing.

    2. avatar
      July 22, 2016 at 9:27 am

      No I think it’s plausible. Everyone got what they wanted.

    3. avatar
      July 22, 2016 at 9:29 am

      Ted didn’t. He’s completely persona non grata right now outside of his own camp.

    4. avatar
      July 22, 2016 at 10:06 am

      He gambled that Trump would fall sooner or later that’s all, and went all-in on it.

    5. avatar
      July 22, 2016 at 10:52 am

      yeah, but that’s not them working together…that’s Ted betting against him.

    6. avatar
      July 22, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Sounds like a pro wrestling rivalry to me. Need a villain for ratings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.