by Ben Cohen
With Donald Trump's accusation that Ted Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz assisted in the assassination of JFK, we are officially in no-mans land.
The media is now struggling to come up with words to describe the sheer insanity of this Republican primary -- a process that is so bizarre it could never have been scripted. "A national disgrace", "a clown show", "an extinction level event", "a threat to human survival" -- these are now obsolete terms that do not capture just how completely nuts this process has now become.
To repeat, Donald Trump actually accused Ted Cruz's father of helping to assassinate John F Kennedy.
Speaking to Fox News today by phone, Trump said that Cruz’s father “was with Lee Harvey Oswald” before President Kennedy was shot. “The whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said. “What is this? Right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don't even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”
“I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.”
What is this extraordinary claim based on? Unsurprisingly, it's a story from that well respected paper the National Enquirer (and no, we're not linking to it) that claimed Rafael Cruz helped Lee Harvey Oswald hand out pro Fidel Castro pamphlets in New Orleans in 1963.
Of course this is almost certainly utter, utter nonsense for several reasons.
Firstly, the footage of the person handing out pamphlets with Lee Harvey Oswald is grainy and unfocused so despite the person looking like a young Cruz, it is impossible to really tell:
Secondly, Rafael Cruz was tortured by the Castro government and fled Cuba for Canada and the United States, so it would make literally no sense whatsoever that he would be involved with a self described loner like Oswald who supported the Castro regime. Reported the Miami Herald:
Gus Russo, an author and journalist who has written extensively about the JFK assassination and Oswald, is dubious [about the claims]. Russo told McClatchy in an interview that Oswald, who was living in New Orleans in 1963, was not connected to the Cuban community there and would not have had a Cuban supporter helping him. “He was the ultimate loner,” said Russo. Another man seen in the video handing out leaflets had been hired by Oswald to do so at an unemployment office, according to the Warren Commission. Rafael Cruz also lived in New Orleans, but it was later in the 1960s.
Thirdly, there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone named Rafael Cruz had anything to do with the assassination of JFK in any way, shape or form, so the accusation is still completely ridiculous even if he was inexplicably handing out pamphlets in favor of a regime he had been tortured by.
Of course none of this matters to Donald Trump as he knows full well that the accusation will stick with his fervent supporters who, as we know, are not the brightest bulbs in the box. Trump's strategy for beating Cruz has been simple - he hurls daily insults and accusations at him regardless of their accuracy. Enough of it sticks and convinces disenchanted Republicans that Cruz is whatever Donald Trump says he is, and Cruz must go through the unenviable process of denying the accusations in public. Ted Cruz has tried to use civility as a weapon against Trump in recent times, appealing to Republican voters' sense of decency -- forgetting the obvious fact that Republican voters aren't the least bit interested in civility or decency.
But this latest claim breaches new territory -- territory so far removed normal parameters of political campaigning and reality itself that it is hard to comprehend exactly what we are witnessing here. The American presidential electoral process now resembles a professional wrestling contest rather than a run off between highly accomplished politicians vying to lead the free world. The Jerry Springer type smack talking between the candidates isn't just grotesque, it is insane. To think that the world's greatest super power -- a country built on values from the enlightenment, a country that put a man on the moon, created the internet and elected the first black man as president is now in danger of being run by a man who brags about his penis size during debates and promotes whacky conspiracy theories about his opponent's parents is, well, truly breathtaking.
In truth, all the Republican candidates are engaging in conspiracy theories -- from their economic platform to the denial of climate change, the mainstream candidates are propagating easily disprovable theories that would never survive the light of day in other modern democracies. But for some reason, there is something more alarming about Trump's latest assertion. While dubious economic and scientific theories can be corroborated with selective data and evidence, accusing Ted Cruz's father of helping to assassinate a former American president based on a story published by a supermarket tabloid and not much else is a step into the unknown.
What is next? Will Trump accuse Ted Cruz of being a Canadian spy? Is he in fact an alien sent to destroy planet earth so that it can be mined for its precious metals? (Well, that one might not be so far fetched...). But seriously though, the ramifications of Trump's latest outburst should not be underestimated. There are now no limits to what he will say or do in order to get elected, and given his record of reprehensible behavior thus far, this should scare the living daylights out of everyone.