The Latest Cruz-Rubio Spat Is Very Strange

Ted Cruz has fired his communications director, Rick Tyler, for spreading a lie about Marco Rubio. Jeff Stein suggests this means there might be hope for us after all:

For months, the top Republican candidates have been engaged in a brutal knockout battle of negativity. Personal insults, lies about each other’s records, schoolyard taunts — nothing has been deemed out of bounds. The good news is that, so far as we can tell, this attack really has backfired….It may be comforting to know that even in this Lord of the Flies–style campaign cycle, some of the basic conventions just might retain a bit of power.

Anything is possible, but I’ll stick with the cynicism my hard-earned age allows me on this score. Still, there really are a couple of odd things about this episode:

  • The whole thing started when the Daily Pennsylvanian got hold of a video that shows Rubio walking by a Bible-reading Cruz staffer and allegedly remarking, “Got a good book there….Not many answers in it.” But this makes no sense. Did Tyler seriously believe that Rubio walked up to a Cruz staffer and casually denigrated the Bible? Even in the Donald Trump era, no one would believe that. It’s insane. Tyler is an experienced guy, and it’s inexplicable that he’d fall for this.
  • Tyler took down the video and apologized after he learned Rubio’s remarks had been transcribed incorrectly. Rubio actually said “all the answers are in there.” Normally that’s the end of things. But this time Cruz decided to fire him. What’s that all about?

It sure seems like there’s something goofy going on here. I’m just not sure what.