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Real estate mogul Donald Trump has run an outsider’s juggernaut campaign, the likes of which nobody has seen in modern politics.

Democrats publicly say they are thrilled to face him in the general election. But, privately, they fret that the master marketer and media maestro is so unpredictable and so original and so fearless that they just might regret getting the match-up they had hoped for.

Trump has done all this in the face of unprecedented opposition from establishment Republican Party officials and many principled conservatives who make up the core base of the GOP. At this point in the primary cycle, any other candidate with numbers like Trump’s would have been granted “presumptive nominee” status by party bosses as well as any final remaining active candidates.

{mosads}It is not new that party establishment types are terrified of doing anything outside of their regular playbook — like recognizing the game-changing power of an apolitical populist who is winning millions of supporters by turning everything upside down. While the media attention has focused entirely on the exuberant and entertaining traveling carnival nature of the Trump campaign, this overlooks another, deeper problem conservatives have today: Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).

In the past eight years, no one has captivated the realistic hopes of conservative constitutionalists the way that Cruz has in this election. On every single issue of importance to conservatives, Cruz is right. He is a walking, living, breathing Supreme Court dissent, masterfully articulated and extensively annotated on paper.

Then, he opens his mouth. And people scream. They run for the exits as if their hair is on fire. They want to take a shower.

Even hardcore conservatives still stewing over the shabby defenestration of Robert Bork find Cruz cloying and unctuous. Leading conservatives who publicly support Cruz’s presidential campaign groan in private when he starts talking.

Cruz may entertain himself by impersonating characters from “The Simpsons,” but it is hard to get out of your mind that Cruz just might, in fact, be Mr. Burns, with those evil snake eyes and the sharp, downward curved beak. Heartless, robotic, ever-calculating, willing to do anything to maximize profits at his nuclear power plant.

“Who is that firebrand, Smithers?” you can almost hear Cruz inquire of a top campaign staffer as he suspiciously eyes Trump and taps his fingertips together.

Or, maybe he is the unholy spawn of Count Dracula and “The Penguin” from Batman.

So, what, exactly, is the problem with Cruz? Why is he so terrible?

For starters, his face and natural demeanor appear bionically opposed to a sunny disposition. The forced smiles only make him look more demonic. And because his facial contortions are so clearly faked, he always looks like he must be lying. “Lyin’ Ted,” you might say.

Then there are the promises he makes and the things he says.

Again and again in recent years, Cruz promised supporters that he would mount a great filibuster in the Senate and defund ObamaCare. Of course, there was no hope of success since even if he had miraculously managed to get such legislation to the president, the president for whom Obamacare is named most definitely would have vetoed it. And Cruz knew that even as he repeated his bold promises to frustrated supporters. Even Dr. Seuss got maligned in the spectacle.

In the end, Cruz utterly and predictably failed and turned the anti-Obamacare effort into something of a mockery. That year a kid in my neighborhood showed up for Halloween dressed as Cruz, carrying a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham.”

With every such stunt, Cruz’s grand promises always failed. His only success was raising his own profile, raking in piles of donations and advancing his own professional political career. This is the reason Cruz is so despised on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. Senate — not because he is some kind of heroic stalwart standing up the leadership.

He is every bit the Harvard master debater, the professional politician he claims not to be and denounces at every opportunity. And if that is not odious enough, he now wears the hat of an election lawyer as he taunts Trump about his own prowess at using arcane and arbitrary electoral rules to wheedle convention delegates out of election losses.

Now in desperate collusion with hopeless Ohio Gov. John Kasich to block Trump from clinching the nomination, Cruz’s campaign issued talking points to supporters, urging them to say: “We never tell voters who to vote for.”

Really? Isn’t that the whole purpose of a campaign?

A shameless professional politician capable of such blatant and ludicrous distortions will soon become indistinguishable from Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Lyin’ Ted. Crooked Hillary. Is there any difference?

It is true that Clinton’s cackles are like claws on a chalkboard for even many Democrats. But that visceral, revolting antipathy is nothing compared to people’s reaction to Cruz.

Even when he says things you agree with, Cruz sounds and looks like the oiliest money-grubbing television evangelist. He invokes Almighty God and Jesus Christ at every campaign event. He talks about praying for this and praying for that and then undulates about “God’s will.”

He turns his face to heaven and splays his arms back as if willing to be crucified for his political convictions. He tightens his fists and brings them to his chin as if in prayer.

After imploring and haranguing and intoning, Cruz drops into a prayerful whisper, the way preachers do when they are winding up their sermons. Except Lyin’ Ted never seems to get to the end of his sermons. He just goes on and on and on. For eternity, one might say.

One of his most famous surrogates, Glenn Beck, actually invoked divine intervention in the untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. As an altar-call to vote for Cruz.

All this desperate sermonizing, as if God is sitting on his golden throne in the clouds looking down at His errant creation with all man’s problems and for some reason is rooting for Cruz to win the Republican nomination for president of the United States of America.

“I will get that Donald Trump. Finally!” God grumbles, clinching his giant Michelangelo fist.

“Two Corinthians,” He scoffs under his divine breath. “‘The Art of the Deal’ is not even a close second!”

Hurt writes the “Nuclear Option” column for The Washington Times. A former D.C. bureau chief for the New York Post, he has covered the White House, Congress and presidential campaigns since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @charleshurt.

Tags 2016 presidential campaign 2016 Republican primary Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Ted Cruz

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