CLEVELAND — In the end, it was all about Ted Cruz.
Delivering an unvetted speech before the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, Ted Cruz — as is always his custom — carefully calculated just how to do it so it would benefit himself the most. And it backfired.
He uttered the name of his party’s nominee — the man who invited him to speak — just once, only to congratulate him on the nomination. Quite pointedly, the senator from Texas refused to endorse Donald Trump.
As if to punctuate his own bitter whining over losing, Mr. Cruz actually told conventioneers that New York is different from Iowa, reviving the major theme of his losing campaign against Mr. Trump. And reminding folks that, yes, he won the Iowa caucuses and for a very brief moment was the Republican front-runner.
As he wound up his non-endorsement speech, the convention hall grew restless. Delegates began to realize that the rude political has-been was actually going to withhold an endorsement.
In an eruption, they thrust to their feet and shouted at Mr. Cruz. They booed him and pounded into him, “Trump! Trump! Trump!”
It would have been humiliating for the senator if he had been listening. Instead, he remained laser-focused on a speech he hoped would set him up for another presidential run in 2020. This, of course, would be banking on the deep hope that Donald Trump loses in November. And Hillary Clinton wins.
This is a man whose arrogance and ego know no bounds.
“I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation,” Mr. Cruz said snidely, as the rowdy crowd of New Yorkers at his feet reproved Mr. Cruz for his blatant non-endorsement of the Republican nominee for president.
How could he not? With the Supreme Court in the balance, how could Ted Cruz not swallow hard and endorse the only man who can stop Hillary Clinton from choosing two and possibly five Supreme Court replacements?
This is a man who loves himself and his political career so much more than his country.
It was not just the New York delegation booing him. It was delegates around the arena, standing up, shouting him down and waving him off the stage.
“Don’t stay home,” Mr. Cruz said weakly.
“Vote your conscience,” he said, as if to highlight that Donald Trump is not a professional politician. It was a signal to the party establishment that they should not vote for Mr. Trump if they don’t love him.
As Mr. Trump did during the primary race, he will have to win this general election without the help of professional incumbent politicians like Ted Cruz. And Ted Cruz will go down with the sinking GOP ship USS Bush.
Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.