The so-called Republican establishment is coming to the painful realization that
But the most plausible path to a Trump-free, Republican-controlled
Many believe -- correctly in my opinion -- that Rubio would be the more competitive challenger to Clinton in the general election. But many also believe that the Hulk would be a great offensive lineman in the
So that leaves Cruz.
(What's that? What about
The chief objections to Cruz from conservative and Republican insiders boil down to three things. (1) They just don't like him. (2) They don't think he's electable. (3) They think he'd be just as much of a self-interested pain in the butt as president as he has been as a senator. Let's look at all three in order.
Cruz will tell you that members of the "
The truth is probably somewhere in between. There are people who've known Cruz for years and hate him, and there are people who've known him for years and love him. I've found him perfectly pleasant and engaging in conversation. But pretty much everyone respects his intellect. Cruz is simply one of the smartest people in
And to that point, it's worth noting that his theory of 2016 was correct. Cruz concentrated on making the right friends and, just as important, making the right enemies. He understood that the populist and working-class elements of the Republican coalition were ticked off at the establishment, and that capturing that anger would be the key to winning the primaries.
In fairness, Cruz helped to rile up those constituencies in the first place. But that's politics.
He missed one thing: the black swan known as
Still, Cruz has been the only candidate to effectively respond to Trump and is arguably the only one many Trump supporters could live with as an alternative.
The point here is that Cruz, for all his apparent rigidity, is actually a remarkably nimble and capable politician. The assumption that he couldn't beat Clinton isn't just belied by the polls, but by the fact that Cruz has shown a mercenary's willingness to do what it takes to win (and I mean that as a compliment).
And then there's the worry about a President Cruz. This is what I worry about least.
Unlike Trump, Cruz is ideologically and intellectually qualified to be president (and to pick
This has been a year where a lot of good and honorable people have had to swallow their pride. The trough isn't empty yet, and many more may need to belly up for seconds if they want to save the