Not since Admiral Ackbar exclaimed “It’s a trap!” has the world seen this kind of firepower unleashed from an already-scary source. Donald Trump, commander of his own gold-plated campaign Death Star, has released his first official attack ad, and there aren’t enough Ewoks on all of Endor to save its target, Ted Cruz. The spot not only hits Cruz at his most vulnerable spot, it does so on a cultural issue so massive that it makes people forget Trump’s evident deficiencies on others: immigration.
The ad exploits Cruz’s fake earnestness, and inability to later explain that he was being fakely earnest. Here’s how this ingenious finger-trap rose out of Cruz’s rivalry with another candidate who really is weak on immigration.
Marco Rubio has been trying to stain Cruz with the libel that he was every bit as barely compassionate as Rubio used to be, and that Cruz supported a pathway to legal status back when Marco supported a path to citizenship. Rubio’s evidence is how sincerely Cruz pushed for an amendment that could have saved the Gang of 8 bill. Here’s Cruz in 2013 earnestly urging his colleagues to forget politics and find a middle ground:
“If the proponents of the bill demonstrate a commitment not to politics, not to campaigning all the time, but to fixing this problem, to finding a middle ground, that would fix the problem, and also allow for those 11 million people here illegally a legal status, with citizenship off the table. I believe that’s the compromise that can pass.”
Cruz later urged his colleagues to pass his amendment expressly so that the comprehensive bill would pass:
The proponents of this bill repeatedly point to as their principal objective to provide a legal status for those who are here illegally to be out of the shadows. This amendment would allow that to happen. If this amendment were to pass, the chances of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically. And so I would urge the committee to give it full consideration and to adopt the amendment.
Cruz’s problem is that he bullshits so skillfully, with the same crinkled sincerity he uses to claim he loves country music because of 9/11, that it’s really hard to walk back when someone busts him on it like Bret Baier did. Here, he tries to say that he never said he wanted the bill to pass:
Cruz: The fact that I introduced an amendment to remove part of the Gang of Eight bill doesn’t mean I support the Gang of Eight bill. The Gang of Eight bill was a mess.
Baier: That’s not what you said at the time. Yahoo dug up these quotes, saying “If this amendment were to pass, the chance of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically, a few weeks later during a debate on the senate floor Cruz repeated his belief that this amendment is the compromise that can pass, and repeated later in Princeton that if my amendment were adopted, this bill would pass.” It sounds like you wanted the bill to pass.
Cruz: Of course I wanted the bill to pass, my amendment to pass.
Baier: You said the bill.
Cruz later abandoned that strategy, and just flat-out said he put forth the amendment to call their bluff:
“I introduced an amendment that made anyone here illegally permanently ineligible for citizenship. That amendment called their bluff. Because it revealed that the proponents of the Gang of Eight were being hypocrites. They were not telling the truth that what they claimed to be interested in was not what they were interested in. What Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama wanted was simple. They wanted millions of new Democratic voters.”
The thing is, in order for you to believe Cruz when he says Schumer and Obama were not telling the truth, he has to get you to believe that he was not telling the truth when he said he wanted to help the immigration bill to pass.
Those chickens have all come home to roost in Trump’s new ad, and will likely result in more clips of Cruz badly explaining himself, which Trump can use in his next series of ads.
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