Will God punish America for rejecting Ted Cruz, and if not, what’s up with that?

Good morning Austin:

Saturday Night Live opened with Dana Carvey reprising his role as Church Lady, hosting Taran Killam’s Ted Cruz and Darrell Hammond’s Donald Trump on Church Chat.

Church Lady recalled that John Boehner had called Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh.”

And now you’ve quit the race entirely. Why did you think it never worked out?

Well, Church Lady, I suppose the American people weren’t ready for a candidate with strong Christian values, someone like me who follows the righteous path and lives his faith every blessed moment.

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 8.10.49 PM

 

 CL: Has anyone ever told you that you’re just a little preachy. Just a little bit. We like ourselves , don’t we love  ourselves. There’s that happy, superior face because we love Jesus more than anybody else.
Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 6.22.14 AM

TC: Yes I do pray to God often and I think everything that happens was part of God’s plan

CL: Was it? Was it God’s plan for you to get humiliated by an orange mannequin? That’s kind of an odd plan for God to have for you.

Cruz leaves but returns during Trump’s segment of Church Chat as Satan. But when Trump belittles him, a hurt Satan Cruz says, “You’re such a jerk, Donald. I’m going back to Hell. They’re nicer there.”

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 9.26.34 PM

As you may recall, Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign ended with a big bang last Tuesday

On Tuesday morning, as the polls were opening in Indiana, Trump was on a telephone interview with Fox News when he had this to say about Rafael Cruz, Ted’s father:

You know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this? Right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.

As I wrote last week:

What had apparently set Trump off was a video clip Fox aired of the elder Cruz, a pastor and frequent surrogate for his son, in Indiana.

“I implore, I exhort every member of the body of Christ to vote according to the word of God and vote for the candidate that stands on the word of God and on the Constitution of the United States of America,” Rafael Cruz said. “And I am convinced that man is my son, Ted Cruz. The alternative could be the destruction of America.”

“I think it’s absolutely horrible that a man can go and do that, what he’s saying there,” said Trump, whose ability to out-poll Ted Cruz with conservative evangelical voters in many primary states has proved critical to his success.

Other Cruz surrogates and supporters have also identified the Texan as God’s chosen candidate.

“Make no mistake, we are being watched,” broadcaster Glenn Beck said at a Cruz rally Sunday in La Porte, Ind. “We’re being watched by our maker. … Every single state is being required, and I believe — and they’re going to rake me over the coals for saying it, so be it — I believe that’s the Almighty God saying, ‘Each one of you, I want you to stand and you choose: good or evil?’ Which way will we go?”

Katrina Pierson, national spokeswoman for Trump, said it was precisely that kind of apocalyptic, good-and-evil religious language — suggesting that God would wreak vengeance on America if Trump were elected — that galls Trump.

“Mr. Trump is just pointing out all these ridiculous things that we’ve heard that have just been hovering over the Cruz campaign,” Pierson said.

On the heels of Trump’s comments on Fox, Cruz held an impromptu press conference in Indiana at which he proceeded to describe Trump, in vivid detail, as something like Lucifer in the flesh – an amoral, pathological liar, serial philanderer, and narcissist.

Of this last assessment, Cruz said, Trump is  “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country has ever seen.  Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and says, “Dude, what’s your problem?”

I thought when he delivered that line that it was the weakest in his otherwise persuasive tirade, because it was a cheap partisan shot and feeble attempt at humor that undermined his essential point that Trump is sui generis in his awfulness. But also, I thought,  gazing into the pond of self-regard this campaign, Cruz might also have seen his own reflection. After all, in  a large and pretty religious Republican field, Cruz was the only candidate who was routinely introduced and presented by surrogates – especially including his father – as God’s anointed candidate.

Cruz didn’t have to say God said vote for me, because other people, again especially including his father, said it for him. And, if it made him the least bit uncomfortable to be so described, he could have pulled Papa Cruz aside at some point and whispered in his ear, “Dad, love ya, but ixnay on the annointedyay.”

But, not having done that, and having been introduced time and again as God’s chosen, well, as Jeff Foxworthy might put it, “You might be a narcissist if you think you are God’s choice to be president and that, if you are not elected, God just might smite America.”

Now, we know, thanks to PolitiFact (a source the Cruz disparages as “a new, particularly noxious species of yellow journalism that is beginning to infect what passes for modern political discourse”), that Trump’s maligning of father Cruz was without foundation, earning a Pants on Fire rating.

Trump’s charge appears to be based on a National Enquirer report alleging that Rafael Cruz is the man standing next to Oswald in a photo from 1963. But technical experts told PolitiFact that no such firm conclusion is possible given the quality of the photograph, and several historians of the period told us they’ve never seen Cruz’s name come up in connection with Oswald.

But, as far as I know, PolitiFact has not checked out the claim that Cruz was God’s anointed candidate for president, and that God might visit destruction upon the land if Cruz were not elected.

Presumably, we will find out in due time, but, either way, this presents a dilemma for us and for Cruz.

If, in the coming months and years, America is destroyed, it will prove Rafael Cruz et al. right, and will make his son a shoo-in in 2020 as the ultimate, I-told-you-so candidate. Only, for that to happen, America will have been destroyed so it will be very much a Pyrrhic victory.

Alternatively, if America proceeds on its merry way under President Trump or President Clinton, Rafael Cruz and Co. will appear to be just so many doomsday cultists who made the mistake of setting a date for the end of times near enough to be disproven.

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 7.17.44 AM

Cruz himself was forever talking about America being on the edge of the abyss, and if, four years hence, his rhetoric still suggests we are teetering on that same abyss he will be in danger of being seen as, well, the man who cried abyss. (Though, perhaps in such cases, abyss is as good as a mile – yes I did attend the O.Henry Pun-Off Saturday.)

It seems to me there needs to be some accountability here.

And so I put the question to John Fea, chair and professor of history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and also writer of the very interesting blog the way of improvement leads home: reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life.

My Q:

My question is that, per Rafael Cruz and others, God will now wreak his vengeance on America for not electing Ted, but how will we know? Could that just mean the election of Trump or does there need to be some more tangible wreckage – earthquake, floods, plague, nuclear annihilation? Is there any accountability? Or can Rafael use the same line again in four years with impunity? Is he just another end-of-days guy who pushes the date back as needed?

Fea’s reply:

 

Good question.  In this view of the world just about anything can be viewed as divine judgement.  Every “anti-Christian” move that Trump makes will be a sign of this judgement.  (Especially if he gets elected and does not appoint a religious conservative to the Supreme Court). If Trump loses, a Hillary presidency will be interpreted as judgement.  Of course if something catastrophic happens this will also be seen as a sign of judgment.  Think Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell blaming 9-11 on gays.

There is a long history of these kinds of prophetic jeremiads in American evangelicalism/Christianity going all the way back to the Puritans in the 17th century. The idea is that God is in a special covenant with the United States much in the same way that God was in a covenant with Israel in the Old Testament.  When the nation conforms to the teachings of the Bible (and elects someone like Ted Cruz) God will bless the nation.  If the culture does not conform to biblical teachings then God will punish.  Think of Cruz’s use of Chronicles 7:14.
(“If My people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.)
So yes, Rafael can use this line of argument (if you can call it an argument) over and over again.  He is not the first to use it, and he will not be the last.
On a somewhat related matter, I thought it was interesting when Cruz said in his post-Indiana speech that he was “optimistic” about the future of liberty in the United States when earlier in the morning, during his attack on Trump (and throughout the entire campaign), he said that we were “at the edge of the abyss.”
It’s all politics.
Maybe, but it seems to me that if Cruz in 2020 is going to re-stake his claim to being the anointed, it would be nice if he could point to a plague or two that was unambiguously visited upon the land in divine retribution for his defeat. Say a national infestation of head lice that forced the closing of all public and private schools and left home-schooling as the only alternative. Or perhaps a failure of the power grid that left only those states that Cruz did not win in darkness. Or a rain of hail that riddles Manhattan. Or a contagion of boils that only afflicts Hoosiers. Or the death of the first-born of all those evangelical voters who somehow chose Trump over Cruz in the primaries.
Fea is right that Cruz’s often apocalyptic rhetoric was an uneasy fit with his simultaneous effort to strike a sunny Reaganesque optimism.
As he said in ending his candidacy:
Together, we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we’ve got, but the voters chose another path. With a heavy heart but with boundless optimism for the future of our nation we are suspending our campaign.

In the aftermath of his defeat, Glenn Beck made it clear last week that we are all in for a heaping helping of God’s wrath.

When we say we don’t know what the Lord has in store for us, oh, I do – our reaping of what we have sown. So I really think was the last reckoning for us. This was like, `please, guys.’

xxxxxx

We just continue to make the wrong choice. So I would look for the things that we’re were supposed to learn as individuals, but I think the country, and all of us as individuals, are going to reap what we have sown and there is nothing that’s going to get us out of that.

His consequences are eternal and they are not judgments, they are promises. You do this, and this is what happens. You do this, and this is what happens. We did that, so we are going to get that. Now we can still turn to Him, which all of us have done, and can say, `Help us make it easier, help us learn from  it, help us help other people through it.’ But I don’t think there’s a savior coming in on a white horse.

Because, quite honestly, we are a petulant child. We’re the child that we have talked to, we have reasoned with, we have put in time out, we have grounded, we have spanked, and the behavior is getting worse. The last thing you do is right before the punishment come in and say, `Hey, you know what, I’m going to take that all away.’ That would be a bad. That would be a very bad dad and the one thing I know about God, he ain’t a bad dad.

 

Meanwhile, Cruz was the last man standing against Trump, and if Trump implodes and is buried in a landslide, there would be a logic to Cruz emerging as the front-runner for 2020. But, as he said, he “left it all on the field in Indiana.” His 2016 campaign capped a meteoric political rise in which Cruz ran against his colleagues in the Senate and against the Republican leadership in both houses, while playing the God card to the hilt.

But what does he do now?

If he returns to the Senate as the same old Ted Cruz, his colleagues will still hate him but they will be even less likely to cut him any slack and more likely to do everything they can to make sure he is not a viable candidate in 2020. But if he returns to Washington as a new Cruz with a mind toward building relationships and getting something done, he risks becoming one of them and a mark for whatever All About Eve understudy sizes him up as past his prime and seeks to take his place.

And what does he do about endorsing or not endorsing Trump.

From Jennifer Steinhauer in The New York Times, Ted Cruz at a Crossroads as He Returns to the Senate

WASHINGTON — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is expected to return to the Capitol this week, the last of four Republican senators battered and beaten by Donald J. Trump to trudge back to the world of meetings over cafeteria cod and roll call votes to name the national mammal.

But Mr. Cruz’s return is more fraught with curiosity than those of the other three, Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida. He made it the furthest, winning 10 states and coming tantalizingly close to pushing Mr. Trump to a contested convention, only to drop out on the same day the billionaire developer suggested that Mr. Cruz’s father had conspired with Lee Harvey Oswald.

The party’s presumptive nominee had also insulted Mr. Cruz’s wife, baselessly alluded to extramarital affairs and labeled him “Lyin’ Ted.”

Now the man who helped create an outsider movement in national politics, only to have it eat him alive by the co-opter of that idea, must decide which group among his fellow lawmakers to join. Will he stand with the hold-your-nose set, as Mr. Paul has done, and support Mr. Trump? Or join forces with “Never Trump,” as Senator Graham did on Friday, and publicly decline to get on board?

Or will he take the route of Mr. Rubio, in effect giving a non-endorsement endorsement, saying he will support any Republican nominee, but not explicitly name Mr. Trump?

“I think all of us will be interested to see what position Senator Cruz takes,” said Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, who is more or less in the same place as Mr. Graham. “After he pretty much excoriated Trump on the final day of his campaign, it would be quite a turnabout if he were to support him now.”

Millions of voters are watching, but for now, he won’t say. Mr. Cruz “is currently scheduled to be back in D.C. next week, and that’s as much detail as we’re sharing right now,” his spokesman Phil Novack said on Friday.

But, in the meantime, no one, even in Texas, seemed to be waiting on a signal from Cruz before deciding what to do.

I think it was notable how quickly and easily his mentor, Gov. Greg Abbott, and his Texas chairman, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and former Gov. Rick Perry – who had campaign passionately for Cruz after his own campaign flamed out, and offered a thoroughgoing critique of Trump back when Cruz wouldn’t – all indicated they would be with Trump. They didn’t defer to Cruz and they were apparently not sufficiently repelled by Trump’s attacks on Cruz, or Trump’s threat to conservatism, to withhold their support even for a little while.

From Ross Douthat in Sunday’s New York Times – The Conservative Case Against Trump.

THERE are many lessons that conservatives need to learn from the rise of Donald Trump. There are elements of his message that the party should embrace. There are grievances among his voters that the Republican Party must address.

But for conservatives to support Trump himself, to assist in his election as president of the United States, would be a terrible mistake.

It would be a particularly stark mistake for conservatives who feel that the basic Reaganite vision that’s dominated their party for decades — a fusion of social conservatism, free-market economics, and a hawkish internationalism — still gets things mostly right.

In large ways and small, Trump has consistently arrayed himself against this vision. True, he paid lip service to certain Reaganite ideas during the primaries — claiming to be pro-life, promising a supply-side tax cut, pledging to appoint conservative judges. But the core of his message was protectionist and nativist, comfortable with an expansive welfare state, bored with religious conservatism, and dismissive of the commitments that constitute the post-Cold War Pax Americana. And Trump’s policy forays since clinching the nomination have only confirmed his post-Reagan orientation.

Reaganite conservatives who help elevate Trump to the presidency, then, would be sleepwalking toward a kind of ideological suicide.

xxxxxx

In sum: It would be possible to justify support for Trump if he merely promised a period of chaos for conservatism. But to support Trump for the presidency is to invite chaos upon the republic and the world. No policy goal, no court appointment, can justify such recklessness.

To Trumpism’s appeal, to Trump’s constituents, conservatives should listen and answer “yes,” or “maybe,” or “not that, but how about…”

But to Trump himself, there is no patriotic answer except “no.”

If Cruz says “yes” to Trump, he will be hard-pressed to maintain his self-description as a courageous conservative. If he doesn’t endorse Trump, it will stand as a rebuke of all those Republicans – including his allies in Texas – who so easily fell in line behind Trump.

And, if somehow Trump should win?

In another skit on Saturday Night Live – Quiz Whiz 2018 – “Contestants (Taran Killam, Brie Larson) struggle to name the candidate who came in second to Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential race.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 1.17.15 AM

(Spoiler alert: The contestant, played by Brie Larson, is Heidi Cruz.)

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 12.37.54 AM

Reader Comments 0

0 comments