“They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force–nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others.”
― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Last night Ted Cruz became my temporary hero and dark overlord. Cruz demonstrated the sort of spine Bernie Sanders doesn’t have. If you missed it last night, then you probably missed the only moment of brutal honesty during this election cycle.
Ted Cruz firmly held out against endorsing Trump and stared into the heart of darkness of an enraged crowd, a crowd that wanted him and his wife gone according to the Washington Post:
In the hours before the speech, a report suggested that Cruz would challenge Trump in a primary in 2020 even if Trump wins the presidency. Cruz notably didn’t endorse his party’s nominee in his speech, offering only his congratulations.
And in fact, he congratulated Trump the same way he congratulated Cleveland’s LeBron James on winning an NBA championship — and just as briefly, before proceeding to the rest of his speech.
Later, he said: “And, to those listening, please don’t stay home in November. If you love our country and love our children as much as you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience. Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom, and to be faithful to the Constitution.”
That seemed to set off the crowd. As Cruz’s speech wound down, they loudly pleaded with Cruz to actually endorse Trump. Cruz powered through, but much of the crowd wasn’t listening. Increasingly, there were boos.
Cruz quipped in response. “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation,” he said, in reference to Trump’s home state.
That didn’t help.
CNN’s Manu Raju reported that Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, was escorted out amid the scene, with some yelling about her former employer, Goldman Sachs.
I’ve lost the link, and I wasn’t entirely sure of its credibility anyway, but there are those who say this whole confrontation between Trump and Cruz was staged. They claim Trump knew the content of the speech beforehand, and instructed the crowd to jeer–because all publicity is good publicity to Trump. Dark, I know.
I wish pictures of Trump reacting to Cruz were public domain, but this gives you an idea of what they look like:
I learned even more about Trump’s heart of darkness, its deep hunger for endless attention, in other words, its childlike nihilism, from the a revealing New Yorker piece about Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s bestseller The Art of the Deal.
Here’s the most compelling part of this riveting read, where Schwartz talks in almost demonological terms about selling his soul to write the damn book:
In his journal, Schwartz describes the process of trying to make Trump’s voice palatable in the book. It was kind of “a trick,” he writes, to mimic Trump’s blunt, staccato, no-apologies delivery while making him seem almost boyishly appealing. One strategy was to make it appear that Trump was just having fun at the office. “I try not to take any of what’s happened too seriously,” Trump says in the book. “The real excitement is playing the game.”
In his journal, Schwartz wrote, “Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.” Looking back at the text now, Schwartz says, “I created a character far more winning than Trump actually is.” The first line of the book is an example. “I don’t do it for the money,” Trump declares. “I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.” Schwartz now laughs at this depiction of Trump as a devoted artisan. “Of course he’s in it for the money,” he said. “One of the most deep and basic needs he has is to prove that ‘I’m richer than you.’ ” As for the idea that making deals is a form of poetry, Schwartz says, “He was incapable of saying something like that—it wouldn’t even be in his vocabulary.” He saw Trump as driven not by a pure love of dealmaking but by an insatiable hunger for “money, praise, and celebrity.” Often, after spending the day with Trump, and watching him pile one hugely expensive project atop the next, like a circus performer spinning plates, Schwartz would go home and tell his wife, “He’s a living black hole!”
You know who else didn’t fall into the black hole that is Trump’s heart of darkness? The ex-Catholic Kasich. In the piece So Now We Have Stone Cold Proof Donald Trump Doesn’t Want to Be President you’ll find this upbuilding anecdote about the man who was set to finish fourth in a two man race with Trump after Cruz quit:
One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinating with his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history? When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy. Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of? “Making America great again” was the casual reply.
Kudos to him for showing some backbone. But don’t read that as an endorsement.
Come to think of it, how embarrassing that all this makes someone as compromised as Clinton look like gold too. That’s not an endorsement either.
Yes, things are that bad–and my dark Eastern European heart can only say it’s going to get worse, not humanly better. “It was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice,” wrote the Pole Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness. We didn’t make all of this, but we’re responsible dreaming it to the end nonetheless.
To cap it all off in an apocalyptic mode, here’s Ross Douthat staring into something he and other Catholics should’ve seen as a symptom of the Culture of Death a long time ago:
This is one of the two major political parties in the most powerful nation in the world. Don't laugh. It's not funny.
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) July 20, 2016
Go ahead and have a hearty laugh thinking of the halcyon days of Reagan and his fortune tellers running the free world. Those were sane times.
Remember to also read This is How Corrupt Our Political System Is
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