28 April 2016
Just when Senator Cruz seemed to be settling into the role of the "establishment" candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, suddenly there comes John Boehner, the former Speaker of the House, with a personal attack of unprecedented vehemence. Driven from power by the Tea Party that forms Cruz's base, Boehner has called the Texan "Lucifer in the flesh" and "a miserable son of a bitch," which is the former Speaker's way of throwing poo on the metaphorical wedding of Cruz and Carly Fiorina, his newly designated running mate. In a gesture perhaps more futile than Ronald Reagan's naming of Sen. Richard Schweiker as his running mate before the 1976 Republican convention, where he would fail to topple President Gerald Ford. For once a Reaganite precedent isn't exactly a recommendation, as the Gipper's move was recognized as desperate from the moment he made it. If anything, Cruz's attempted coronation of Fiorina as his consort may prove more futile; it may actually hurt his already-dwindling chances of stopping Donald Trump. While Fiorina may be ideologically compatible with Cruz -- she told an interviewer this morning that "getting things done" in Washington is rarely a good idea -- she makes an unlikely rallying point for Trumpophobic Republicans and is unlikely to lure actual Trumpites away from their hero. Her problem is that she's seen as a loser after dropping out of the campaign early to endorse Cruz. Cruz's problem is the same one anyone faces who tries to advance the first woman into a formerly exclusive realm. No matter how reactionary Fiorina is, her deployment by Cruz is bound to look like an act of pandering, if not of political correctness, by the man supposed to be the most ideologically conservative, and hence presumably the most indifferent to identity politics, of all the Republicans who have run over the past year. At a moment when Trump is snarling that Hillary Clinton would be a marginal candidate were she not a woman, Cruz's stunt is bound to look exactly like a stunt, and a cynical one at that, whether the Senator believes sincerely that Fiorina is the person best qualified to be Vice President or not. By the standards of his own base, in all probability, it was not conservative, while women who actually care about getting a woman at or near the highest seat of power probably won't give a corporate creep like Fiorina the time of day. Cruz may hope to energize his campaign by anointing Fiorina, but it seems more likely now that it will prove his last gasp.