Senator Cruz is making a spectacle of himself this week and I don't know if it's doing him any good. The trouble began, as you'll recall, when Trump held Cruz responsible for an ad -- if you can call it that -- from an anti-Trump organization that insulted the current Mrs. Trump. Cruz quite plausibly denied responsibility, but an unappeased Trump threatened to "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife. Since then, another ad -- or was it just a tweet? -- compared Mrs. Cruz unfavorably with Mrs. Trump on aesthetic grounds. That was more than Cruz could stand; he couldn't stands no more! The Senator has called Trump a "sniveling coward" for attacking or threatening to attack Mrs. Cruz -- and that was before the National Enquirer published an article claiming that Cruz has had five extramarital affairs. The circle closed with Cruz blaming Trump for the tabloid accusation, accusing either the Enquirer itself or its sources of being Trump's "henchmen." While the supermarket tabloids all seem to support Trump -- I presume they're just pandering to the preferences of their regular audience -- there's no more reason to hold Trump responsible for what a tabloid publishes than to hold Cruz responsible for every anti-Trump expression within the Republican party.
Cruz may hope that this will be the "have you no decency?" moment that marks the beginning of Trump's end, but by now Trump's supporters, if not the man himself, have shown that they have no decency. What is "decency," after all, but another word for "political correctness" that gets in the way of telling people what you really think of them? Trump's fans probably will listen to Cruz and hear only whining. Two hundred years ago, there was another way to hold people accountable for dishonorable statements and slurs against your character. Fans of the hot Broadway show Hamilton will know what I'm talking about, and I wonder if that hip-hop historical play has made people think twice about dueling in an age when the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination are brawling in an outdoor sewer. Right-minded people frown upon dueling today because "honor" seems like a poor reason to kill someone. In fact, dueling actually did little to elevate the level of discourse then, mainly because relatively few people resorted to it. Jefferson never called out anyone who told stories about him and his slaves, for instance, while many contemporaries found dueling as barbarous as we do. But ask yourselves: when even the potential for being called out and challenged on the field of honor existed, how close could someone like Donald Trump come to political power before he was called out and really held to account for the crap he said? We can all deplore dueling, but if we agree that Trump and Cruz have dishonored the political process this year, what can be done about it apart from, if you're a Republican, voting for Gov. Kasich? There should be something we can do, beyond voting, to stop this from happening again, because we share in the responsibility for all of it by letting Trump and Cruz become popular. If we expect political candidates to behave honorably -- presuming that "honor" isn't just another word for political correctness -- then Americans probably should learn some code of honor themselves.