New Best Friends
Sticks and stones can break my bones
But words can never hurt me.
A child’s reply to a taunt
It was a truly heart-warming couple of days-the rapprochement of two former bitter rivals, one of whom, in a moment of amazing grace, buried the hatchet and the other, in a similarly generous gesture, assisted in the burial. It was reminiscent of the small boys who, having quarreled, are instructed by their mothers to kiss and make up to show that they are, in fact, best friends. Any small boy who has kissed another small boy after a quarrel can attest to the unpleasantness of the task even though mandated by well-meaning mothers. The mothers in this case are expediency and the little boys none other than Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. It was all brought to mind because of Mr. Cruz’s recent acknowledgement that he plans to vote for Mr. Trump. It cannot have been an easy decision, given some of the unkind things that Mr. Trump said about Mr. Cruz, his wife, and his father, during the primary season and it shows how truly magnanimous Mr. Cruz can be when magnanimity and self-interest demand it.
The animosity between Mr. Cruz and Mr. Trump finds its genesis in their respective efforts to get their party’s nomination for president in 2016. In his effort to convince voters that he would be a better president than Mr. Cruz, Mr. Trump employed a number of creative tactics that had not theretofore been used in national elections. Comparing the beauty of candidates’ wives was one. Mr. Trump has had three beautiful wives whereas Mr. Cruz has had only one beautiful wife. That gives Mr. Trump a three to one advantage over Mr. Cruz and, as if to emphasize that advantage, Mr. Trump posted on the twitter account of which he is so fond, a picture of his beautiful wife and an unflattering picture of Mr. Cruz’s beautiful wife. Not content to rely on an unflattering photo of a beautiful woman in order to show how beautiful his own and current wife is, Mr. Trump also ominously said he would eventually spill the beans on Mr. Cruz’s wife. That was apparently an idle threat since there were no beans to be found. The foregoing is not meant to suggest that Mr. Trump was a one issue candidate. He also brought Mr. Cruz’s father into the picture.
A tabloid published a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald, President Kennedy’s assassin, distributing pro-Castro leaflets in New Orleans. Mr. Oswald was accompanied by another man that the tabloid said was Mr. Cruz’s father, an assertion that was denied by Mr. Cruz and never proved. Not deterred by the fact that there was no evidence that the unidentified man was Mr. Cruz’s father, Mr. Trump pretended it was and said it was “horrible” that he’d been with the assassin two days before the assassin killed the president. After Mr. Trump had accepted the nomination at the Republican National Convention, he again repeated the assertion about Mr. Cruz’s father, apparently miffed that Mr. Cruz had not endorsed Mr. Trump in his convention speech.
Mr. Cruz was, as most decent people were, upset by Mr. Trump’s comments. The day after Mr. Trump’s comments about his father, Mr. Cruz explained why he had not honored his pledge to endorse the eventual nominee of the Republican party saying: “[T]hat 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,” Everyone who has a wife and/or a father applauded Mr. Cruz for his strong defense of family. Mr. Trump was not the least bit upset by Mr. Cruz’s decision not to endorse him saying: “If he gives it, I will not accept it.”
On September 23, Mr. Cruz became, as he had earlier described what he would be were he to endorse Mr. Trump, a servile puppy dog. He attributed his puppy dog like servility to his earlier pledge to support the Republican nominee, irrespective of who that might be, the pledge he had described two months earlier as “abrogated.”
Readers will be forgiven if they assume that Mr. Cruz’s endorsement of Mr. Trump would be ignored by Mr. Trump who had said, after the Republican convention, that he would not accept the endorsement even if offered. Instead of acting on his earlier announced intention to decline an endorsement from Mr. Cruz whom he had persistently addressed as “Lyin’ Ted” during the primary season, Mr. Trump accepted the endorsement saying: “We have fought the battle, and he was a tough and brilliant opponent. I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again.”
It was almost certainly a distasteful kiss for both men. Politics makes strange bedfellows.