There was something tragic about the self destruction of Senator Ted Cruz. We watched with bated breath as he walked slowly and deliberately to the edge of the cliff on Wednesday night.
He was giving his speech to the Republican National Convention. All of us were expecting him to shame the boos by finally, at the dramatic end, announce his endorsement of his party’s nominee.
Hadn’t he promised as much in the debates? Didn’t he, as a constitutional lawyer, understand what would happen to the nation if activist Justices were appointed to the Supreme Court?
Didn’t he remember the wise, patient Richard Nixon, who in 1964, alone among establishment Republicans, defended the young GOP children who had nominated Barry Goldwater, and thus was joyfully elected president himself four years later? A path that this time Newt Gingrich has been able to carve out for himself.
So there was Ted Cruz, standing on the precipice, peaceful, in a lonely world of his own making, oblivious to the shouting mob all around him. And then suddenly, without fanfare, he ended his speech and leaped into the chasm. No endorsement. He had ended his political career. It was a very private moment in full view of thousands.
My heart broke, not for Donald Trump, who may still win anyway, but for Ted Cruz. It is not easy to watch a man take his own political life.
Ted Cruz must have imagined writers talking the next day about how Donald Trump had created his bed and now had to lie in it. Trump had fiercely and effectively branded Cruz as “Lyin Ted” and it hurt. Trump now had to live with the consequences of his actions.
There is a scene in my book The Raising of a President, where Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife Rose, are on a train to Washington, D.C. They are on their way to a White House meeting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Kennedy is going to publicly denounce the president and refuse to endorse him for re-election. He is rehearsing with Rose all of the reasons, and all of the cruel and false games that the President has played against him.
Rose listens patiently and then says, “Joe, the people aren’t going to understand that. They will just see that you didn’t endorse him, that’s all they will see. You are the only one who will be hurt.”
Where was Rose Kennedy Wednesday night?
Forgiveness is a lost art. I’m keenly aware of that since I have made my fair share of mistakes. But sometimes forgiveness is also, remarkably, a solution. It is not a sign of weakness, no one would have seen Ted Cruz as weak had he endorsed Donald Trump.
Which brings us to Roger Ailes, the embattled genius who just resigned from Fox News. He was accused of sexual harassment by an employee and his media competitors were quick to beat the drums. Of course they wanted him to go. They couldn’t beat him in business, they couldn’t beat him at broadcasting.
Let’s make it clear, the charges against Roger Ailes were not about any unwelcome physical actions. Rather, the accusations, unproven at this point, said that he used earthy and sexually aggressive language. And as the boss, the words were intimidating and inappropriate.
Sexy is part of the secret to success at Fox News. It is a network that not only reports sides of an issue that no other network dares touch, but it presents it with attractive, dazzling personalities who look good.
Roger Ailes had built a network on forgiveness. Some of his stars may have been perfect, in looks and in character, but many were not. Just Google a Fox name, any name, and add lawsuit and you will see.
There are Fox anchors and guests that have been drunk, arrested, plagiarized and many have been tossed out on the trash heap by other networks, for being too old or too fat. If they had talent, Roger Ailes would find them and forgive them and pull them from the trash heap to polish them off and turn on the lights and make them productive again.
I have a solution for that awkward Ted Cruz moment. Forgive him.
And that should have been the solution for the Roger Ailes crisis. The Murdoch’s should have done what Ailes himself would do to any other talented person in his place. Forgive him.
The only way Roger Ailes should have ever left Fox News was in a box, dead at the age of 100, on the 4th of July.