If the general environment fits Cruz nicely, the dynamic of the campaign is favorable to him, too.
Ted Cruz isn’t topping the polls or dominating the conversation, but he’s one of the winners of the past few months.
His odds of winning the nomination have increased more than anyone else’s besides Donald Trump, and if you believe (reasonably enough) that Trump isn’t built to last, more than anyone else’s, period.
Let’s review. There was always the danger of Cruz, who made his national reputation on the strength of a misbegotten government shutdown, seeming like too much of a bomb-thrower. That was before it began to look like the Republican Party is open to a candidate only slightly less disruptive than Auguste Vaillant, the 19th-century French anarchist who struck a blow against politics as usual by literally throwing a bomb into the French Chamber of Deputies in 1893 (the establishment wasn’t amused — it executed him).
Such is the disgust with the Republican leadership, that there is no longer such a thing as going too far. Cruz could burn John Boehner in effigy, and no one would bat an eye. Cruz could make a citizen’s arrest of Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor on grounds of gross crimes of omission against the constitutional republic, and the Luntz focus group would applaud his plucky initiative. In sum, there’s nothing Cruz could do short of pissing in the Yankee Bean soup in the Senate dining room that would be too outlandish, and even then his most devoted fans might say, “It’s about damn time!”
This must be liberating for Cruz, who has already called McConnell a liar and blamed Boehner and McConnell for not stopping the Iran nuclear deal — and he’s just getting started.
If the general environment fits Cruz nicely, the dynamic of the campaign is favorable to him, too. There are few things Cruz should welcome more than the ongoing war between Trump, the anti-establishment gorilla in the room who is a major obstacle in his path, and the foremost establishment candidate, Jeb Bush, whom Cruz needs to be as weak as possible. Cruz can stand by and hope both sides lose, which isn’t a far-fetched bet.
While other campaigns have been flummoxed and discombobulated by the rise of Trump, Cruz hasn’t. He has a simple political True North — go where the base is. Once it became obvious Trump was catching on with the grass roots, Cruz’s play was obvious: Start acting as if Ronald Reagan’s only failure was not to have handed down a 12th Commandment — thou shalt not criticize Donald Trump.