As Bill O'Reilly patiently explained to people on Fox News last night, it's one thing when a Republican presidential candidate makes a speech, but when Donald Trump insults someone famous or smears whole classes of people, that's news. Senator Cruz must have been watching, and must have taken the lesson to heart. Trump had made news already today by mentioning an Internet legend, supposedly confirmed by a photograph, that Cruz's father, a Cuban exile who'd once fought against Batista only to turn against Castro, was an associate of Lee Harvey Oswald. There seems to be no better way to get Cruz mad than to dis his family. He called Trump a coward when the front-runner appeared to insult and threaten Cruz's wife. Now, on the day of the Indiana primary, widely seen as make-or-break for Cruz if not the clincher for Trump, Cruz made news that the media could not ignore.
There's something about Cruz's voice and his preacherly manner of speaking that always threatens to make his anger sound insincere. I detected some real emotion in his previous tirade in defense of his wife, but this time there was something calculated about his philippic against Trump, as if he'd been waiting for an opportunity, which Trump inevitably would provide, to give a "Have you no decency?" speech in the manner of Joseph Welch facing down Joe McCarthy. It doesn't help that Cruz's squishy face seems incapable of strong emotion. In any event, it is most likely too little, too late for the Texan. It simply isn't the same when you do this on defense. When Trump insults people it isn't really personal; it's just his way of asserting dominance. People can hear him and believe that he's expressing their disdain and anger at the establishment and the state of things in America. By comparison, all Cruz is really saying here is that his feelings have been hurt. Had he written this on the Internet or social media, it probably would be dismissed as "butthurt." Cruz has found himself in a debate for which he was not prepared, in which all his vaunted training and talent have done him little good. This debate has not been a good thing for the country at all, but it probably couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, so to speak.