I wouldn't say that the
In arguably the most improbable political season of our lifetimes, this fact has to rank high on the list of things no one could have seen coming. If they gave out report cards for first-term senators, Cruz would get an "F" in the "plays well with others" category. Party leaders believed that his 2013 gambit to shut down the government over Obamacare was a disaster for everyone but Cruz, and they have harbored a not-so-secret disdain for him since.
But that's all over -- at least for now.
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.
Team Cruz fears that people such as McConnell will use the convention in
The concern is understandable but overblown. Although a contested convention is likely, the "white knight" scenario, in which someone other than Cruz, Trump or
At an open convention, the delegates, not
Yes, it's theoretically possible that the delegates will choose a white knight, but that would only happen after days of deadlocked voting.
In other words, the delegates would have to really want someone other than Cruz. And given the Cruz campaign's success at lining up huge numbers of sympathetic delegates, that seems unlikely.
And would they really rally to House Speaker
Although there is no coherent ideological agenda implied by the term "anti-establishment," it is a recognizable attitude. Trump and Cruz have very different philosophies. (For starters, Cruz has one.) But they are both avatars of the anti-establishment mood, a mood that will be well represented on the convention floor. It seems unlikely that delegates' ultimate choice would be someone so synonymous with the establishment.
There's also the fact that
The most likely scenario is that should Trump lose on the first ballot, Cruz will win on the second or third. In fact, some see a path where Cruz cobbles together his own delegates, unbound delegates and, say,
There's some irony here, of course. Cruz spent years building his reputation as the guy who wants to tear down the system, and now it's the system, not necessarily the voters, that may put him over the top.
Nervous Republicans should find this reassuring. 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.