Of course Ted Cruz was setting himself up for 2020. Rallying his talent for offense and assholism one last time in 2016, he gambled that enough spectators would remember his refusal to endorse Trump in four years when he would join, presumably, Jeb!, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich for a rematch. But Cruz is as loathsome and dangerous as the head of the GOP:
Trump’s mix of cocky ambiguity and predation could scarcely be better primed to trigger the kind of great power confrontation that could push the world from smoldering to fire. It is no exaggeration to say that were it not for the relative confidence that Trump will be defeated in November that interview alone could trigger a genuine international crisis.
Indeed, it still may.
Trump brings together aggression and narcissism with a kind of militant ignorance which can be harmless or even amusing in the make believe world of reality TV or New York real estate but becomes positively dangerous on a national and global stage, thrashing about like a hose spewing fire. As Will Saletan memorably put it, the GOP is a failed state and Trump is its warlord. On his own Trump is simply a bracing case study in abnormal psychology. But he didn’t shoot to within reach of the most powerful office in the world by happenstance. He is the product of a political and cultural breakdown on the American right, a swaggering reductio ad absurdum of every breach and breakdown and violation of extra-statutory norms we’ve seen over the last two or three decades.
Josh Marshall refers to the New York Times interview in which Trump said he would leave NAFTA “in a split second” and questioned the idea of coming to the aid of NATO allies. The full extent of Trump’s dangerousness is becoming known even to elites. I suspect most supporters would read – or, more accurately, hear about them second- and thirdhand – Trump’s remarks and wonder what’s the trouble. Of course we shouldn’t help our allies blindly – look at what happened in Iraq and Syria!But ideas have consequences, one of which is the national security Trump and his supporters purport to believe in requires the comity of allies. How these allies respond to the first ISIS or ISIS-inspired attack on the American mainland during the Trump administration will depend on how the president treats them beforehand. If anything, the lawlessness that Trump espouses should reassure ISIS that “the West” lacks the moral authority to fight it.
And guess what? Should this attack come, Trump will blame it on the Obama administration’s policies anyway.