You know, it’s always sad when guys who should rightfully be best buddies start feuding. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. It just breaks your heart, you know?
The latest bros-turned-foes tragedy happened recently when presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump fell out. Some of us remember the halcyon days when all of the appalling harlequins who’d recently staggered out of the Republican Klown Kar were sniping at each other. But not Ted and Donald.
As far back as last July, Cruz declined an invitation on “Meet the Press” to bash The Donald: “I like Donald Trump. He’s bold, he’s brash. … it seems the favorite sport of the American media is to encourage some Republicans to attack other Republicans. I ain’t gonna do it.”
Trump, for his part, reciprocated. “I like him,” he said of Cruz in September. “He likes me. He’s backed me 100 percent. Ted Cruz was out there and he really backed me very strongly, and I always respected that.”
Then the bromance began to unravel. The New York Times, like a troublemaking Mean Girl, reported that Cruz had questioned Trump’s “judgment” at a private fundraiser in December. Trump shot back on Fox News Sunday, claiming that nuh-UH, it was Cruz who lacked the “temperament” to be president and that he dealt with the Senate like “a bit of a maniac.”
Then he played the birther card by bringing up Cruz’s Canadian birth. Maybe it didn’t actually disqualify him, Trump said, but who wants a candidate who “could be tied up in court for two years” litigating the issue? Cruz shot back by noting that it was Trump whose Real Americanism was suspect because he represented “New York values,” to which Trump replied “9/11. So there.”
At that point, it was, as they say, on. A feud erupted that, for sheer intensity, rivaled the one between the above-referenced Fred and Barney when Barney voted for Joe Rockhead instead of Fred for Grand Poo-bah of the Water Buffalo Lodge.
I’d thought the mudslinging had reached its nadir when Trump responded to a Utah anti-Trump group’s publication of semi-nude photos of Mrs. Trump by taking to Twitter and threatening to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife, Heidi (whatever the heck that meant). Donald shot back by Tweeting a picture of Mrs. Cruz (who, for the record, is actually rather attractive) caught in a most unflattering grimace.
But, as with so many things about this election, just when you think they’ve hit rock-bottom, the GOP candidates call for the jackhammers. On the eve of the make-or-break Indiana primary, Trump basically claimed Cruz’s father (who, for the record, is actually bat-spit insane) was an unindicted co-conspirator in the death of John F. Kennedy. His source was a story in the National Enquirer that purported to show a picture of the senior Señor Cruz passing out pro-Castro pamphlets in New Orleans alongside Lee Harvey Oswald a few days before the assassination.
Cruz, as you might expect, completely lost what was left of his mind, raging that Trump is a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” and a “serial philanderer” who “describes his own battles with venereal diseases as his own personal Vietnam.”
All totally true, of course. But sadly, Cruz’s meltdown, however truth-based, availed him nothing. He took a drubbing of epic proportions in Indiana, leaving Trump nearly alone at the top of the smoldering garbage fire this primary process has reduced the Republican Party to. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a hardline right-winger who only looked sane and reasonable because of the whackaloons he was standing next to, exited as well.
So, with the contest all but over, the burning question is: Will these former pals be like Fred and Barney and make up by the end of the show? Or will they be like Martin and Lewis, not speaking for 20-plus years before coming to a surprise reunion and reconciliation on a telethon?
Well, the morning after the Indiana primary, I woke up to hear the New Face of the GOP talking about how his former enemy was no longer “Lyin’ Ted,” but was instead a “tough, smart guy” with a “great future.” So, hopefully, we’ll soon see the “serial philanderer” and the “maniac” hugging it out. Then they can get back to taking the Republican Party over a cliff.