As Close To An Ethics Hero As He’s Ever Likely To Get: Senator Ted Cruz

I never thought I would have occasion to place the term “Ethics Hero” anywhere near Ted Cruz’s name. Ted understands ethics (unlike Donald Trump), he just discards them at will, when an end he lusts for requires an unethical means. Last night, however, Cruz brushed up against ethics heroism. He took the podium at the Republican National Convention in prime time, and directed principled conservatives and Republicans not to vote for Donald Trump, though not in so many words. It took character, it took courage, and his message was the right one.

The Texas Senator and last Trump challenger standing congratulated Trump for winning the Republican nomination,  but never endorsed him. Then he closed by telling convention-goers and TV viewers to “vote your conscience” in November. The convention throng of Trump supporters erupted in jeers, as Cruz had to know they would, and Trump felt he had to appear on the floor to pull focus from his intransigent foe. Today on Fox News, the Fox Blondes and their harassers were slamming Cruz as a traitor and a fool.

Yeah, that was how the collaborators talked about De Gaulle in France during the occupation, too.

“My country, right or wrong” has never been an ethical principle. “My religion, right or wrong” allowed Catholics to enable child rape. “My President right or wrong” created Watergate. “My race, right or wrong,” is tearing the nation in two. There is nothing honorable about “My party, right or wrong.” The Republican Party is betraying its duty to the democracy and the nation by knowingly nominating a Presidential candidate its knows is unqualified and unfit to lead, and a likely danger to the nation and the world. No matter how bad they may think Hillary Clinton is, and she is mighty bad, it cannot excuse this surrender of principle. Indeed, if they believe Hillary will be a disaster, then the Republican Party has an obligation to present a candidate who can defeat her on his or her merits, and not one that  60% of the public—that is, the segment with functioning ethics alarms and reading comprehension beyond a fifth grade level—has concluded is unqualified.  Nominating Trump is a classic “March of Folly” move, blindly going forward with a disastrous course of action long after its insanity became undeniable.

The GOP leaders who know better, like Speaker Paul Ryan, and yet allow this cataclysm to proceed are the individuals deserving scorn, not Ted Cruz. Cruz is the scout telling Custer not to go into that valley. He is my late father, three times telling superior officers in World War II that their orders were illegal and deadly, and that he would not carry them out. Ethics Alarms has discussed the dilemma facing the engineers who believed that the Challenger would blow up, and whose warning were ignored. I have come to believe that stating their objections and then allowing the launch to proceed was not enough. Would they have been traitors to their employers if they went forced a postponement by blowing a whistle to the news media and announcing that the Space Shuttle was doomed if it launched in low temperatures? Would they have been traitors if they personally obstructed the launch?

Cruz made it clear last night that he would not be complicit or supportive of the candidacy of Donald Trump as a matter of principle. Exactly. Trump is not Hitler, but the way his candidacy has commanded support and loyalty from citizens who know or should know how bad he will be–indeed has already been– for the United States is reminiscent of how Hitler captured the government, culture and soul of Germany. A Cruz-like resister to Hitler’s rise would have been arrested and shot had he tried what Ted did last night. That’s some consolation, I suppose. Cruz was drowned out at the end, but at least he was alive.

Still, it took great courage to do what Cruz did last night. I’ve had a similar experience, but didn’t have the guts to make my stand.

When I worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I was once assigned the task of giving a speech before an Amway convention at the Atlanta Omni, to promote the Chamber’s grass roots right-wing lobbying non-profit, Citizen’s Choice. The audience consisted of over 15,000 extreme conservatives, and right before I was scheduled, they wildly cheered a speech by the local “Diamond,” who gave a full-bore John Bircher-style rant, condemning feminism, integration, the teaching of evolution, and President Jimmy Carter, whom, he said, was an agent of the Soviet Union (and he had documents to prove it!).

I sat there, at the age of  28, and wondered what I should do. I considered walking out. I considered taking the mic and announcing that the previous speaker was a fascist, and that someone had to say so. Doing either, I decided, would cost me my job and have no positive impact whatsoever, so I went ahead and delivered my short pitch, and got off the stage. (I also told my boss, current President of the U.S. Chamber Tom Donohue, that I would never do anything like that again, and he apologized for the assignment. He also said that he would not have blamed me if I had refused to follow that speaker. I still wonder about that…)

Cruz can’t be given full Ethics Hero status.  Everything he does is calculated to help Ted Cruz, and he might have in part been motivated by vengeance. After all, Trump branded him “Lying Ted,” smeared Cruz’s wife and accused his father of helping to assassinate Kennedy.  Most analysts assume that Cruz was setting himself up for a Presidential run in 2020, after Trump’s defeat leaves the Republican Party in smoldering ashes. I don’t doubt it. Cruz, as  he has before, may have been doing the right thing for unethical reasons.

The Trump staff is also saying Cruz lied to them about the contents of his speech. I can believe that. I can also believe that Trump’s people are so inept and gullible that they believed him. Lying isn’t ethical, though I could argue that Cruz lying in this case was a utilitarian act: it was more important for someone of stature to take the podium during this mass rejection of valuesand point out the importance of conscience and principle than to tell Trump’s brownshirts the truth.

I’m not certain of that. I am certain that Ted Cruz showed courage last night and delivered a message that needed to be delivered.

[ From the archives: If the GOP paid any attention to Ethics Alarms, we wouldn’t be here..]

37 thoughts on “As Close To An Ethics Hero As He’s Ever Likely To Get: Senator Ted Cruz

  1. As I read someone so aptly summarize:

    Cruz defended constitutional conservatism while emploring Americans to vote with their consciences. Constitutional conservatism and conscience were booed off stage by Trump supporters.


    • And listening to my favorite political radio talk show host, Mark Davis, pretty well sacrifice his integrity while interviewing Mike Gallagher (a pundit who gave up any semblance of integrity long ago), I got to hear the argument drummed up “Cruz should’ve known how the crowd would react and that it might get violent towards his wife. He shouldn’t have been surprised.”

      Uh, guys? How many times have you railed against people who say “don’t do such and such because Muslims might get angry and violent” as surrender-monkey nonsense.

      Thanks idiots.

      Mark Davis will be given one more chance before I don’t listen to him any more.

      • Pretty easy to predict Mark Levin and Glenn Beck’s reaction.I’m actually surprised by Rush’s take on it .I thought he was a major Cruz supporter.But at least Mike Savage is sure to make me laugh

        • I don’t even listen to the EIB network at all anymore.

          And Salem Network (home of Mark Davis and Dennis Prager) I only occasionally listen to, Gallagher discredited himself long ago, I can’t stand that imbecile Hannity who needs to stick with writing, and Michael Medvidiot, the surrender monkey himself, lost me a long long long time ago.

          Now Mark Davis is slipping.

        • Gallagher is popular because he’s personal and relatable. Plus, as tedious as his hackery is, he had a Friday morning bit with Chris Wallace for about 10 minutes that proved to have some pretty light hearted and amusing banter. Though one such back and forth actually produced a post on this blog.

          But in terms of his punditry, he’s proven a sellout for trump.

    • Cruz deserves benefit of the doubt on the ethics front. Because if it was political calculation, he got it wrong. Politically it is much better to offer a lukewarm endorsement ala Paul Ryan. Now he is a scapegoat if and when Trump loses. He will never be the nominee. Maybe vengence played a role but that is okay. He did the right thing.

      • I was wrong to defend Cruz here as he just endorsed Trump. But right that if Cruz was doing a political calculation by not endorsing Trump, he got it wrong. Ironically, now he has the worst of both worlds — he appears neither principled nor loyal to the Party.

        • I don’t see it that way at all. He made the wrong decision, but for the right reasons. Conservatives saying that they won’t vote for Trump because he’s not conservative enough is the same silly logic that gave the US two terms of Barack Obama. It makes no sense whatsoever. You don’t vote for Trump because he’s completely, totally, absolutely unfit, unqualified, and untrustworthy, even when compared to Clinton. The GOP’s “loyalty” to the party while betraying its duty to the nation and the public is ethically indefensible, and while Cruz was opposing Republicans supporting a national disgrace just to follow the lemming parade, I admired the stand. But if he really sees Trump as superior to Hillary, then 1) he should vote for him and 2) he’s an idiot.

    • Why is taking it personal inconsistent with principles and ethics? Would you support someone who attacked your family they way Trump attacked Cruz’s?
      Oftentimes personal experience clouds judgment. But here Cruz’s unique experience with Trump gives him clarity where many other Republicans are just seeing D and R. He has to be thinking, how can somebody who cast suspicion on his father as being part of the JFK assassination conspiracy be trusted to act thoughtfully in any sort of high-stakes issue?

  2. If a guy tosses a bowling ball from a third story window at 3 P.M. without looking at the sidewalk below and the bowling ball strikes a kidnapper in the head, knocking the kidnapper unconscious and allowing the police to apprehend him without incident, then is the bowling ball tosser a hero? Can he be a hero and grossly negligent at the same time?

    Since Ted’s intent is likely only about making himself more likely to be the nominee in 2020, I find no heroics in his action. His intent may secondarily be in favor of a civic good, but I don’t find it heroic because it is just “along for the ride” with what is good for Ted Cruz.

  3. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I understood the sequence of events to be:

    1. Trump insults Cruz’s wife, father, and Cruz himself over several months of the campaign.
    2. Cruz then agrees to endorse Trump at the convention.
    3. Cruz does NOT endorse Trump at the convention.
    4. Cruz admits that he backed out of a promise, but justifies this because of the prior insults.

    If this is accurate, this does NOT make him an ethics hero. It makes him a political opportunist. The ethics hero is Kasich who refused the VP nod, refused to attend the convention (in his home state no less), and did not engage in any bait and switch tactics. Kasich is not my favorite candidate out there, but he continues to show statesman-like behavior. Cruz is taking a gamble here — nothing more.

    • There is no evidence that Cruz ever said he would endorse Trump. Trump is relying on that “pledge” that he himself said he wouldn’t honor. Today Trump said he saw the speech and let it go (though I don’t believe it.)

      Kasich was a Trump enabler. He never challenged him directly, and still hasn’t. Yechh. He’s on my long list of those who made this mess possible, along with Bush, Christie, Carson and others.

      • So, “it’s not the worst thing” or “everybody does it”? Cruz should not have spoken at the convention if he wasn’t willing to endorse the candidate. End of story. I would have respected him more if he had boycotted.

        As for Kasich, didn’t the Republicans start with 18 nominees? No one could have defeated Trump. Trump is playing to fear and ignorance. His speech last night was terrifying but that is what his base wanted to hear.

        • No, it’s an exception to the rule. When Cruz made the pledge, he never dreamed that the voters would in effect nominate a completely unfit candidate. Should a pledge supersede a statesman’s duty to try to prevent a national catastrophe? The pldge was the ethical error, not breaking it. It’s like Bush’s pledge to not raise taxes. Circumstances changed, and he was obligated to break his pledge.

          From a more technical standpoint, recall that Trump declared late in the game that he would not rule out a third party run. He had, in effect, said that he wouldn’t honor the pledge. Don’t you think that relieved any candidate of hewing to a pledge to support him?

          • I think an honorable man would have told Trump that they would not endorse him and thus would not speak at the convention.

        • ‘Cruz should not have spoken at the convention if he wasn’t willing to endorse the candidate.’

          Why? Cruz was challenged on it and said that he had supplied copies of his speech, which he did not alter on the fly, and it never included an endorsement. If Trump or the RNC had a problem with that, they could have not given Cruz the stage time.

      • Okay, I thought there was something more recent. Thanks. I don’t think that changes my opinion though. He still should have bowed out.

  4. Indeed, if they believe Hillary will be a disaster, then the Republican Party has an obligation to present a candidate who can defeat her on his or her merits, and not one that 60% of the public—that is, the segment with functioning ethics alarms and reading comprehension beyond a fifth grade level—has concluded is unqualified. Nominating Trump is a classic “March of Folly” move, blindly going forward with a disastrous course of action long after its insanity became undeniable.

    I can only guess why the convention leadership shut down the attempt of delegates to deny Donald Trump the nomination.

    If that succeeded, it could embolden Democratic delegates to do likewise with Hillary Clinton, and they may very well nominate someone with a much cleaner record, who might actually be popular with

    The Republican leadership could not have that.

  5. I have no respect for Ted Cruz! A man’s word is his honor. If I can’t trust your word, then I can’t trust you. I voted for Kasich, but again, NO honor! Keep your word! All of the candidates agreed to support and endorse the Republican nominee. They didn’t agree to support the nominee, if he refrained from personal attacks. They agreed to support the nominee with no stipulations. The people nominated Donald Trump.
    Ted Cruz attacked Melania Trump. There’s no way he was unaware of the release of that photo by the PAC in Utah. This nation is in crisis and all Ted Cruz can think about is his political ambition. He will never be President! Perhaps it’s time for a viable third party. I don’t see that happening because the establishment is too vested in maintaining the status quo.

    • “I have no respect for Ted Cruz! A man’s word is his honor. If I can’t trust your word, then I can’t trust you.” The man Ted had theoretically pledged to support had withdrawn his own reciprocal pledge. I’d say that the contract was revoked.

  6. The first step in a “Cruz in 2020” campaign is to distance himself from the Trump Train Wreck. Which will be bad if he loses, exponentially worse if he wins.

  7. @Jack Marshall,

    Hey Jack, I hope you are well.
    Now, I believe Donald Trump would have honored the pledge if he had lost. Ted Cruz never had any intention of honoring the pledge. He never anticipated being beaten by Donald Trump. The pledge was coerced to ensure Trump didn’t run as third party candidate. Very cynical! It backfired. Hillary Clinton cannot be allowed to win the presidency. Donald Trump can be restrained. Who will restrain Hillary Clinton?

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