At the LA Times, Jonah Goldberg tries to convince himself that Cruz is better than Trump by simply not being Trump:
Like Perseus pulling Medusa’s head out of a sack to petrify his enemies, Cruz has been able to dangle the prospect of a President Trump to strike fear in the hearts of even his biggest detractors.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) used to say choosing between Donald Trump and Cruz was like choosing between being shot or poisoned. Graham chose his poison. He’s out there raising money for Cruz. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose hatred for Cruz was the stuff of Sicilian blood feuds, seems to have reconciled himself to the fact that Cruz is the only person who can stop Trump. McConnell’s definitely not in love, but he recognizes that these are the cards we’ve all been dealt.
He goes on to say that Cruz is most likely to wind up being the nominee provided that Trump doesn’t get it on the first ballot, and that conspiracy theories about the GOP’s plan to swoop in and anoint Paul Ryan are not altogether implausible, but highly unlikely. And for that, he’s right.
But this idea that Cruz is somehow not as bad as Trump is mind-boggling. And the more I think about it, it doesn’t appear that self-described conservatives (who seemingly can only define themselves by negation, i.e. “#NeverTrump”) are opposed to Trump because he’s a dangerous lunatic, but because he’s a dangerous lunatic who’s not conservative enough. Cruz is conservative enough, really far-right-wing enough, to satisfy that requirement of the anti-Trumps. But Republicans so far are even less enthused about Cruz than they are Trump.
Yes, in a normal year, failure to win a majority of votes in the primaries would present a serious PR problem. But this isn’t a normal year. Meanwhile, Cruz is demonstrating, yet again, his ability to do what is required to win. That’s a skill set that will be much needed come the fall.
Yeah. Because shady political maneuvering is something that really turns voters on. Thing is, as skilled an orator and debater as Cruz might be (people say so, anyway), none of his talents have helped him in the likability department, even though Goldberg premises his redundant piece on the idea that Republicans could cozy up to him. In a national CBS poll, Donald Trump has a higher percentage of those who would “enthusiastically” support him and fewer who would not support him as the nominee than Ted Cruz:
Trump has a net +13% favorability to Cruz’s +8%:
Though the CBS poll shows that Trump’s support has dropped from 46% to 42% and that Cruz’s has risen slightly from 26% to 29%, this Fox News poll shows that Trump’s support has gone up in the last month while Cruz’s has gone down significantly:
Cruz isn’t Kasich, so he doesn’t have the ability to fool half-alert Dems into thinking he’s a moderate. And while Cruz does better in polls against Clinton than Trump, he has less support within the ranks of Republican voters.
So yes, Jonah, Cruz isn’t Trump. He’s worse in every way. It’s just that Goldberg and others think Cruz is more presentable as a candidate, not a credible one.