How do I know? The Texas Republican senator tweeted an all-smiles picture of himself with the former President and this caption:
“Had a great dinner tonight with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago. He’s in great spirits! We spent the evening talking about working together to re-take the House & Senate in 2022.”
He’s in great spirits! Good to know!
What Cruz is doing here isn’t complicated. He wants to run for president in 2024 — particularly if Trump himself takes a pass on the contest. And Cruz is smart enough to know that, at least at the moment, the path to the Republican nomination goes directly through Mar-a-Lago. As in, there is a zero percent chance of winning if Trump is actively opposed to you doing so. If Trump says something nice about you publicly, so much the better!
That Cruz feels the need to kiss the ring — and make it VERY public that he is doing so — after everything Trump has said about him (and his loved ones) speaks to the depths of capitulation (and obsequiousness) that even the ostensible future leaders of the party (like Cruz) are willing to stoop to in order to please the former president.
What, again, has Trump said about Cruz?
Well, he said that Cruz stole the Iowa caucuses. He suggested that Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He even insinuated that Cruz’s wife, Heidi, was unattractive. And who could forget that Trump bestowed the nickname “Lyin’ Ted” on Cruz. (“Lyin’ Ted holds the Bible high, puts the Bible down and then he lies,” Trump said repeatedly on the campaign trail in 2016.)
And then there’s what Cruz has said about Trump.
He called Trump a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral, “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen” and “a serial philanderer.” He suggested that Trump may have ties to the Mafia. He said that “if I were in my car and getting ready to reverse and saw Donald in the backup camera, I’m not confident which pedal I’d push.” He told Trump to “leave Heidi the hell alone.” And last but not least, Cruz pointedly refused to endorse Trump in a primetime speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Now, politics can be an ugly business, especially at the presidential level. And Cruz (and Trump) defenders will no doubt engage in a bit of whataboutism by noting that then-Sen. Kamala Harris savaged Joe Biden during the 2020 Democratic primaries over his opposition to busing to integrate schools.
Which was harsh — and left some hard feelings that took a months for some in both camps to get over!
But there’s a big difference between going after a past policy position held by a politician and suggesting his wife is ugly. Or that his dad somehow played a role in the assassination of an American president. Or that you hide behind your religion while lying constantly.
Those sorts of attacks feel, to me at least, like the sort of stuff you don’t get over. Because they are totally outside the bounds of normal political hits, in that they are so deeply personal.
That Cruz is not only willing to put all of that behind him (or tuck it away somewhere in the back of his mind) but also to celebrate Trump — Cruz floated the idea of arguing the ridiculous Texas election fraud case in front of the Supreme Court — is, frankly, astounding.
It’s also a testament to the depths of Cruz’s ambition and the death grip that the 45th President of the United States still exerts on the GOP.