“Don’t be cute!” was my dad’s withering retort back in the day, when we tried a little too hard to talk our way out of a disciplinary matter.
Last night, Ted Cruz got cute.
And got booed off the stage. By his own party. The party where he ran a solid second place.
The first 70 percent of his possibly unvetted talk were solid, and moving. One test of how compelling a convention speaker is: when the hall falls completely silent, listening. And, as the speeches this year have tended to be shorter than last time, there were more than a few places where he could’ve wrapped it. Comfortably.
Especially if he knew he was not going to deliver the goods.
Then he was talking in code: vote your “conscience”, look for candidates who honor the Constitution. Like who, Gary Johnson?
Look, I can see it Ted’s way: Trump got nasty about his wife, his dad, called him a liar. And, on the other hand, as recently as January, Cruz and Trump were tag-teaming on issues like illegal immigration. Buddy-buddy. Wingmen. And it was at Trump’s invitation that Cruz got the speaking slot. Donald’s shindig. You’re a guest. Get that straight.
And the Trump supporters who are calling Ted a “disgrace” and “disgusting” need to keep their powder dry for political enemies, not “frenemies”.
So, give a short speech if you’re not endorsing. Give ’em the “just stopping by, sorry I can’t stay longer”. Joe Scarborough said Ted was “too clever by half”. Chris Wallace joked that his Senate colleagues take “an immediate dislike to Cruz—to save time”.
I still like Ted Cruz, but I question his cuteness.