Thinking about the response to Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last night reminded of a famous story that the British journalist Claud Cockburn (1904-1981) told about his days on The Observer.
He and his mates had a running competition to write the day’s most boring headline. You could only win, however, if the headline actually made it into the paper.
His winning entry:
Small Earthquake in Chile, Not Many Dead
To my mind, that’s what the brouhaha over Ted Cruz’s speech last night really amounted to, though to judge by the response on the convention floor — to say nothing of the hysterical headlines that followed — you’d think we had a replay of the the San Francisco earthquake compounded with the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens.
“Ted Cruz Refuses to Endorse Trump!”
“Crowd Boos Cruz!”
Such headlines billowed out of the blogosphere and diffused themselves in shrouds of dark particulate mist around the consciousness of the moment.
Fact check: What did Cruz actually say? He began with this:
I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night.
He then went on to talk about freedom, winding up with a recommendation to “vote your conscience.”
Is that a bad thing?
Does the success of Donald Trump really require the imposition of impermeable group-think and rally-like crowd frenzy?
The best response I’ve seen to the manufactured controversy — a controversy that is about as significant as the pseudo-controversy over Melania Trump’s supposed “plagiarism” — came from Newt Gingrich.
I think you misunderstood one paragraph that Ted Cruz, who is a superb orator, said, and I just want to point it out to you, Ted Cruz said you can vote your conscience for anyone who will uphold the Constitution. In this election, there is only one candidate who will uphold the Constitution.
So to paraphrase Ted Cruz, if you want to protect the Constitution of United States, the only possible candidate this fall is the Trump-Pence Republican ticket.