As I read Autumn Price’s report on how Senator Ted Cruz is handling President Trump’s assault on his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions, I couldn’t help but think how much Sessions may be regretting his surprising decision months ago to endorse Trump over his longtime friend and ally from Texas.
Over the course of the last few days, President Trump has lashed out irresponsibly at Sessions, calling him “beleaguered,” saying that he is “very disappointed” in him, slamming him as “weak,” suggesting Sessions’ primary endorsement of Trump was based off of “large crowds” rather than actual support, and vaguely threatened “time will tell” on whether or not he fires the Attorney General.
Certainly no one can be surprised at Trump’s reckless comments nor should they be shocked by his willingness to demand of his underlings a loyalty he himself does not return. But in a political cutthroat city like D.C., it’s been Ted Cruz’s rigorous defense of Sessions that is perhaps most remarkable:
“Jeff Sessions is a friend and a strong conservative. I was proud to vote to confirm Jeff and to vigorously defend his confirmation, and I’m deeply gratified that we have a principled conservative like Jeff Sessions serving as Attorney General.”
There’s no question that Cruz is speaking the truth. That isn’t the impressive part. What’s extraordinary is his willingness to go on record publicly defending Sessions against Trump’s demeaning insults when at the very moment Cruz desperately needed support from Sessions during the presidential campaign, he watched his Senate friend and ally walk onto a stage, put on a red “MAGA” cap, and endorse the lifelong Democrat donor Trump:
“I told Donald Trump this isn’t a campaign, this is a movement… At this time, in my best judgment, at this time in America’s history, we need to make America great again.”
It was a symbolic moment, signifying the apparent resignation of the coming Trump nomination from both the establishment and conservative wings of the Republican Party. Cruz meanwhile would continue to battle, suffering accusations that he was a showboat, go-it-alone right wing crusader more interested in making headlines than making headway in legislation. Sessions could have been key in helping dispel those anti-Cruz myths, but he instead hopped aboard the Trump Train.
And now here we are. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Trump trashes a conservative stalwart for lacking “loyalty,” even after receiving his endorsement and crucial political support. Cruz praises and defends that same conservative stalwart even after being unceremoniously shafted by him publicly.
Surely now, amidst this latest tempest, Sessions regrets his presidential pick. I’m guessing he isn’t alone.