And I do mean messy. Up first is the lengthy clip of Beck interviewing Cruz this morning, grilling him over his recent endorsement of Donald Trump. Substantively, what changed since Cleveland? Answer: Nothing, really. The 'Mike Lee/SCOTUS' fig leaf is preposterous on its face. Cruz wasn't reassured by Trump's assurances about his previous list of potential nominees, which was widely applauded by conservatives? Why not? Perhaps it was because he thinks Trump's a "pathological liar." But now we're supposed to believe that The Donald adding Cruz's buddy's name to the roster made a big difference? C'mon. Note how the Texas Senator declines to answer whether he informed his pal from Utah before using him as a featured excuse for his conversion experience. Here is Lee's spokesman, just a few days ago:
Cruz ducked Beck's Q about whether he gave Sen. Lee a heads-up prior to the Trump endorsement/explanation. Lee spox: pic.twitter.com/itbTrsp66D— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 26, 2016
So there's your answer. Cruz also slammed "left-wing rag" Politico over a "hit piece" reporting that he began renting his email list to Trump long before his infamous non-endorsement at the convention (and subsequent belated endorsement). But the story appears to be accurate, and other former rivals have refused to make a buck off of giving Trump's campaign access to their donor lists. Beck really presses Cruz on this point, blowing through a commercial break to make sure he got a full answer. This is some uncomfortable radio:
Next, we have Beck's post-interview reaction, which is even more pointed. Beck asks, what's the point of supporting the "principled" guy when he's not actually principled? Rubio has been wrong on a few things, Beck continues, but at least he's electable and a pretty solid conservative. Beck concludes that he should have endorsed Rubio (yes, this Marco Rubio) over Cruz, scolding himself for buying the Texan's act. "It's my fault for believing that men can actually be George Washington," he fumes. Tough, tough stuff coming from a top Cruz surrogate on the trail:
But Allahpundit -- a 2016 Cruz supporter himself -- throws a penalty flag on Beck, scoffing, this is the first time you've ever heard Cruz calculate? Seriously?
Cruz’s entire career has been a calculation, and I say that as someone who voted for him this spring. He became a populist outsider running against Washington only after his attempt to join the establishment failed. He staged his ObamaCare filibuster in 2013 with no hope of stopping the law from being implementing but knowing that it would be great for his insurrectionist brand in the 2016 primaries. During the Gang of Eight debate, he offered an amendment that would have expanded guest workers while removing the path to citizenship knowing that that would let him argue the amendment both ways during his presidential run. During the GOP primaries, he’d claim it was a poison pill to sink the bill; during the general election, had he made it that far, he’d be pointing to the guest-workers part as proof that he’s not a radical restrictionist. Cruz dodged questions on legalizing illegals literally for years, in fact, until pressure from Trump finally forced him to rule it out late last year. His “bromance” with Trump was itself a giant calculation designed to build goodwill among Trump’s populist voters in hopes that Cruz would inherit them once Trump collapsed. Then he made his boldest calculation yet at the convention, betting that a non-endorsement would make him look good after Trump inevitably melted down on the trail this fall and ended up being crushed by Clinton. Now that that hasn’t panned out, he’s re-calculating...
Here's some background on Cruz's immigration calculation, and how he misrepresented it during his presidential campaign. Ah well. The 'Never Trump' crowd is dwindling considerably on the Right as Trump consolidates Republican voters ahead of the general election. In other words, this is all mostly a sideshow at this stage. But regardless of the outcome in November, the acrimonious recriminations and grudges within center-right media aren't likely to heal quickly, or maybe ever. I'll leave you with something that virtually all righties can enjoy, independent of their views on Trump:
The latest polling is consistent with a Clinton lead of only ~1% nationally. State firewall breaking up. Trend lines awful.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) September 26, 2016