Part 16 of "The Post Constitutional Election" series is here.
Among the stranger phenemena of this campaign season are Ted Cruz's segues from real person into the character played by Michael Douglas in the 1995 movie The American President. I have posted two performances above; there may be more.
On "defending" wife Heidi from Donald Trump's dread "retweet" -- already absurdist melodrama -- the bizarro fact is that Ted Cruz relied on the lines of a script, not his own mind, to speak out. And not just the lines. Cruz further stole Michael Douglas's performance of those same lines to try to generate righteous anger over his wife's "attack." Think about it: The man's wife is supposed to be under attack, and, in response, he plays a part, thick, like a ham. Such "scenes" have sparked some amusement, but little reflection on the oddness of it all.
Because it is odd. There is something odd about a person who mimics an actor's scripted performance to convey emotion, in this case about his own wife. Was it so much easier to assume a role than to express genuine feeling? Did he even know he was doing it? Either way, what does say about Ted Cruz? Or was he on some level acutely aware how phony the RT "crisis" always was and actually needed Michael Douglas's example to help him generate heat? Or was Cruz waiting all along for some vaguely a propos moment to "do" The American President routine because he thought the role was good for his image?
Having studied Cruz in this election cycle, I cannot pretend to be suprised by his acting. Cruz says he wished to become an actor in Hollywood -- and frequently spouts movie dialogue on the hustings (even "auditioning" for "The Simpsons"). He did, nevertheless, become an actor in politics, assuming any number of roles, from strict constitutionalist, to "consistent" conservative, to temporary nationalist, to "outsider," even to "natural born" citizen.
This all struck me anew from a different angle on hearing that The American President is not the only movie Ted Cruz is drawing from to attack Donald Trump.
Yesterday, Cruz appeared on Glenn Beck's radio show and said:
Donald needs to understand he's not Michael Corleone. I understand that Donald has had some very shady business deals with people that are currently in prison -- mobsters. But the presidency should not be like Cosa Nostra and it is wrong for a president or for his henchmen."
Cruz's toxicity aside -- "the [Trump] presidency should not be like Cosa Nostra," as if? -- it seems important to note that Michael Corleone is a fictional character created by novelist Mario Puzo in his gigantically successful Godfather franchise. Michael Corleone happens also to be a character Cruz will "do" to make a point on air.
See what I mean by odd? It makes you wonder if anything Ted Cruz does is for real.
We know La Cosa Nostra is for real. This is something, not incidentally, that Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani knows better than anyone. As US Attorney, Rudy Giuliani famously led the prosecution that resulted "in dismantling the ruling council of La Cosa Nostra," as he put it in 1986. Giuliani's recent decision to support Trump in the New York Primary neutralizes Cruz's nasty charges, but they linger to be pondered.
If one were really serious about alleging ties to the mafia's ruling council, the appropriate reference would be not to a movie character, but to real capos and crime families -- Salerno, Genovese, Lucchese, or, later, John Gotti.
If one were serious...if one were real. If one were connected to reality, and, equally as important, if one were seeking to connect others to reality, not naratives, not spin.
Now this from Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek.
Delegates waking up with horse heads?
The reference, of course, is to the infamous Godfather scene in which a severed horse head shows up in the bed of yet another movie character. It is a defilingly grotesque scene, without which the human race had done quite well for millenia. It was also pure invention on the part of author Puzo. Now it is part of the Cruz campaign.
All the world's a stage for Ted Cruz, and who knows what role he will play next.
More important, though, is when people will really catch on.