It’s rare beyond measure that 90 seconds of Fox and Friends can be said to offer real insights into our current political climate. But this morning’s broadcast did just that.
The first insight came courtesy of Ted Cruz’s father. Rafael Cruz told Indiana’s Christian voters that they must choose between voting for God’s candidate – his son – and “the destruction of America.”
I exhort every member of the body of Christ to vote according to the word of God and vote for the candidate that stands on the word of God and on the Constitution of the United States of America. And I am convinced that man is my son Ted Cruz. The alternative could be the destruction of America.
The only thing new about Rafael Cruz’s rhetoric is that it was broadcast on Fox and Friends. He says this kind of stuff – and worse – all the time in his role as a valuable campaign surrogate. Rafael has spent so much time on the Religious Right circuit that he’s become a folk hero of sorts in his own right.
Rafael is an ardent Christian nationalist whose book spouts the discredited theories of Religious Right “historian” David Barton. Rafael, like his son’s other most ardent supporter, broadcaster Glenn Beck, believes Ted Cruz has been anointed by God to lead America. It’s one reason Cruz won the Christian-nation primary, lining up endorsements from the overwhelming majority of Religious Right organizational and political leaders.
When Fox asked Donald Trump about Rafael’s comments, he responded, “It's disgraceful that his father can go out and do that. And just – so many people are angry about it. And the evangelicals are angry about it the way he does that.”
Trump might have stopped right there, making the point that he does in fact get a lot of votes from self-described evangelicals (mostly those who don’t go to church that faithfully) and that it’s a bad idea for the Cruz campaign to claim God’s endorsement. That would have left us in the unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable position of agreeing with Trump. (Although not with Trump’s suggestion had Rafael should not be “allowed to say it.”)
But Trump did not stop there. He went on to spout a conspiracy theory — recently elevated by the National Enquirer after floating around the dark corners of the far-right internet — linking Rafael Cruz with the CIA and JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald based on an old photograph that some people think looks like Rafael:
You know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being, you know, shot. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. I mean, they don't even talk about that. That was reported and nobody talks about it.
Coming from Trump, you might say this was disgraceful but hardly surprising. Trump, of course, was an early and ardent birther who harangued the White House about President Obama’s birth certificate, and has since embraced a wide array of conspiracy theories on everything from Justice Scalia’s death to Muslim residents of New Jersey celebrating on 9/11.
And Trump has appeared on the radio show of Alex Jones, who Right Wing Watch has called “one of the most notorious and, frankly bizarre conspiracy theorists out there.” Jones, for example, promotes the idea that the shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school was “staged” as a “false flag” operation designed to ease the way for Obama to confiscate Americans’ guns. Oh, and the fact that flies are “always landing on him” is evidence that Obama is “a demonic creature.”
When he appeared on the show, Trump gushed to Jones, “Your reputation is amazing.” And Jones has continued to return the favor, praising Trump and warning that Democrats are planning to go “full-authoritarian” and that if Trump loses, “this really could be one of the last real elections.” Trump confidant Roger Stone has repeatedly made the case for Trump on Jones’ show.
So there, in one and a half minutes, is today’s Republican Party, whose two frontrunners for the presidential nomination are a Christian-nation candidate who complains that people of faith have allowed “nonbelievers” to set the nation’s course and a conspiracy-theory-promoting demagogue who will say anything he thinks will help him take power.
Video captured by TPM