I wrote earlier (and somewhat cynically) that I think John Boehner is subtly sending a message that if the establishment must lose, they’d rather lose to Ted Cruz than Donald Trump. They, like me, see the completely destruction of the GOP as a meaningful political party coming with Trump or, more and more, with an establishment pick like Bush.
But they know their history.
In 1979, the GOP rallied against Ronald Reagan. George H. W. Bush, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, and more all ran to stop that nutjob Reagan who’d lead the party to defeat just like Barry Goldwater. Except Reagan got the nomination. There was only one thing they could do — convince Reagan to unite the party by picking a moderate as his Vice President.
So Reagan picked as his veep the man who’d coined the term “voodoo economics” to describe Reagan’s policies. Vice President George H. W. Bush turned out to be a very good and loyal Vice President. But, once Reagan was gone, the GOP Establishment who’d never liked Reagan began moving back in. By 1991, the party was raising taxes again.
I suspect there is much the same thinking going on in Washington right now. It is becoming more and more obvious that Ted Cruz has a real and legitimate path to victory with money in the bank. More and more Trump supporters have turned this into a Trump v. Jeb Bush race. Bush himself is floundering. Many of the other establishment preferred candidates are less than inspiring.
So they’ve got to be thinking they can at least do business with Cruz. He can be the nominee, they can get a squishy veep to unite the party, then they can outlast him.
Of course, there is one major difference. Cruz is young. Reagan did not have staying power on the national stage even before his health faded. Cruz and Team Cruz have staying power. In other words, Cruz is more likely to outlast Boehner than Boehner is to outlast Cruz.
But it will be damn funny to see all these guys who’ve been attacking Cruz for six years suddenly put “Cruz for President” bumper stickers on their cars.