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  1. Opinion

Ruth: Ted Cruz's fatally wounds own campaign

Sen. Ted Cruz hugs his running mate, Carly Fiorina, on Tuesday after calling it quits.
Sen. Ted Cruz hugs his running mate, Carly Fiorina, on Tuesday after calling it quits.
Published May 4, 2016

Are you getting the vague sense this wasn't a Republican presidential primary campaign at all? It was the hapless Shemp Howard of Texas taking on the paranoid, fear-mongering Lyndon LaRouche of the Big Apple to become the Court Jester-in-Chief.

Some 56 years ago, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon argued over the strategic value of Quemoy and Matsu, two obscure islands in the Taiwan Straits. Today, the debate has devolved into the merits of slapping around 10-year-old protesters and whether the father of Ted Cruz, Rafael Cruz, was in cahoots with Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of JFK.

What have we learned?

In the runup to this week's Indiana GOP primary, Cruz, who supposedly is a really smart chap, delivered a master class in Political Science 1-0-Duh on how to royally implode a presidential campaign in just a few simple steps. It worked to perfection.

First, announce Carly Fiorina as your running mate, a figure who brings less value to your campaign than a life jacket filled with lead. Second, when Fiorina falls off a podium right in front of you, do nothing to come to her aid. Stay classy, Ted.

Third, when a bratty 10-year-old heckles you during a speech, have your security detail evict the kid and then proudly announce he should be spanked just like how you inflict corporal punishment on your own daughters. Would you slap around Vladimir Putin, too?

Fourth, arrive in Indiana, where Hoosiers is considered the official state movie, and refer to the basketball hoop as the "ring." Do you also think the Kentucky Derby is a hat?

Fifth, enter into a doomed political agreement with a candidate who is an even bigger loser than you are, reinforcing former House Speaker John Boehner's view of you as "Lucifer in the flesh." And that was meant as a compliment.

Sixth (sigh), commit an unpardonable political act of incompetence by engaging in an eye-rolling back and forth with a group of slack-jawed Donald Trump supporters, who in the end handed Cruz his keister on a platter.

No good comes from a candidate who prides himself on his debating skills but can't hold his own against what looked like Deliverance extras.

Cruz: "America is a better country … "

Goober One: "Without you."

Cruz: "And the question everyone here should ask … "

Goober Two: "Are you Canadian?"

And it went downhill from the there.

How insane was this? We've gotten this far into the column and we're only just getting around to Donald Trump, the rubber ducky of the hustings. You could argue this wasn't so much the Indiana primary as it was a campaign to claim the mantle of Commander-in-Creep.

Trump was frothed that the media had not been in hot pursuit of a recent story alleging Rafael Cruz somehow knew or was associated with Lee Harvey Oswald, based on an unverified, unconfirmed, unproven photograph supposedly of Cruz senior standing near JFK's killer on a New Orleans street taken more than three months before the assassination.

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It must be true. It was in the National Enquirer, filed by its Elvis/UFO/Area 51 editor.

Tuesday night, in the wake of losing the Indiana primary election to the Old Yeller of Fifth Avenue, Cruz glumly suspended his campaign to return to his day job as the walking black spot of the Senate. After earlier describing Trump as an amoral, serial philandering, narcissistic pathological liar, it would seem an endorsement might be a tad problematic.

There's an old axiom that in the end the body politic gets the candidates it deserves.

And now the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and, yes, Ronald Reagan is about to see the Electoral College version of Popeil's Pocket Fisherman ascend to become its presidential standard-bearer. But wait! Alas, there will be more. Much more.

Over in the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton continues to collect delegates while losing primary elections to Bernie Sanders.

November approaches. What then?