If you’re invited to Ken and Shirley’s house for dinner and you know that neither one of them can cook and that they serve bad wine, you have two choices.
The first is to politely decline. Any number of reasons can be given and even if Ken and Shirley strongly suspect that your reason is actually an excuse, feelings are largely spared and civility is maintained.
Or you can accept. It may suit your purpose. Ken and Shirley’s company, their friendship or their capacity to help you socially may make it worth your while to endure their bad food and wine.
Your acceptance, however, comes with an obligation. No matter how distasteful you find the cuisine, you are bound by good manners to say something complimentary. You are expected to be gracious.
Ted Cruz forgot his manners last night here at the Republican National Convention.
Yes, the primary contest between Cruz and Donald Trump was bitterly fought and some nasty and hurtful things got said.
But Donald Trump didn’t have to invite Ted Cruz to speak in prime time, just as he didn’t have to invite Scott Walker and Marco Rubio and Rick Perry – all one-time primary opponents.
Ted Cruz, if he was still angry about the primaries, did not have to accept the invitation.
But he did accept and in so doing, he accepted the obligation to speak well of his host.
Political convention prime time speaking slots are valuable. The speeches are expected to help the nominee. Speakers are expected to put party ahead of self.
Ted Cruz, whether he intended to or not, looked petty last night. His speech wound up being about him and it shouldn’t have. In a presidential year, it stops being about you the moment you drop out of the primary race.
When it became clear that Cruz was not going to be gracious – when it became clear that the end of his speech was at hand and that he had mentioned Donald Trump only once, in a perfunctory congratulation for winning the nomination — the crowd turned on him. Cruz gamely fought through to the end of his speech but by that time – at least on the convention floor – no one could hear him over the boos and chants and catcalls.
Ted Cruz looked small last night. In becoming small he made Texas look small. For true Texans, that’s nearly unforgivable.
Moreover, he revealed himself as selfish. He confirmed his critics. Consider the coverage last night and this morning. What percentage is devoted to Mike Pence’s acceptance of the VP nomination – a significant uniting force for the Republicans – and what percentage is devoted to Ted Cruz’s ungraciousness, something that may haunt the party in the general election?
Worst of all, Cruz’s speech was a lost opportunity for the Republican Party. He should be embarrassed.
Lord knows, as a Texan, I am.