Let me take a moment to praise Ted Cruz. The Republican presidential candidate, near-universally loathed in Washington, spotted a clutch of Donald Trump supporters outside an Indiana rally and walked across the street to talk to them.
What happened next was a disaster, a gargantuan gaffe, pundits declared. Talk to people who don’t agree with you? Who does that?
Practically no politician takes such a risk anymore, which is why I give Cruz credit for his ethos, if not his execution. The New York Times described the encounter:
“What do you like about Donald Trump?” he asked.
“Everything,” said the man in the sunglasses, who later refused to give his name.
When the protester mentioned the Second Amendment, Mr. Cruz said he had defended gun rights in front of the Supreme Court. The man appeared unimpressed.
Cruz also pointed out that Trump has expressed sympathies with gun-control advocates like former President Bill Clinton. The protester wasn’t buying it, which was the first sign that this confrontation would be a metaphor for the times: Americans are sorting geographically, economically, and even factually. The truth is disposable. Opinions are cemented.
When he mentioned immigration, Mr. Cruz was ready with a bit of opposition research.
“May I ask you something?” the Texas senator said. “Out of all the candidates, name one who had a million-dollar judgment against them for hiring illegal immigrants. Name one. Donald Trump.”
“Self-funding,” the man replied.
“O.K.,” Mr. Cruz said, “so you like rich people who buy politicians?”
Here again, Cruz is right: Trump can’t possibly deliver on his promise to end illegal immigration with a giant wall. He won’t deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. In fact, some past statements put Trump in the pro-amnesty camp.