Steve has linked some of Mark Levin's comments on the New York values controversy. I agree with the general thrust of Levin's comments, and I think they were worth linking. I want to add the following, though.
People like Ted Cruz, Mark Levin, and Rush Limbaugh have spent months preparing the way for Donald Trump to have the sort of large platform he now has. They've prepared the way for so many Republicans and others to be so irrationally committed to Trump.
I agree that the treatment of Cruz over the New York values dispute has been unjust, and I agree that there are a lot of bad motives on the part of the people who are criticizing Cruz on this issue. But Cruz shouldn't have made comments that can so easily be misrepresented and criticized. His critics are more to blame than he is. He's right about New York having different, and worse, values than the values of Cruz and his supporters. But given the immature nature of the electorate, the corruption of the media, and the bad character of some of Cruz's opponents, like Trump, Cruz shouldn't have made his comments.
And Trump never should have gotten to that debate stage to deliver his response. He never should have gotten in the race to begin with, because Republicans should have made it clear that they wouldn't support such a candidate. If Trump did get in anyway, low poll numbers should have driven him out months ago. Instead, he's had relatively high poll numbers. People like Cruz, Levin, and Limbaugh kept giving Trump far better treatment than he deserved (while highly successful conservative leaders who are much better than Trump, namely Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal, were forced to leave the race with support in the low single digits). The behavior of Cruz, Levin, and Limbaugh in this context has been disgraceful. The behavior of most Republicans (including many who don't support Trump, yet think too highly of him and haven't done much to oppose him so far) is disgraceful. What are Republicans thinking when they tell pollsters that they view Trump favorably, that they think Trump has the best chance of defeating Hillary Clinton, etc.? How do they explain their latest responses to pollsters on these issues in light of their previous, contradictory responses? The people who have given Trump this sort of inordinate influence should own their responsibility for this situation. Most won't. They'll act as if they're innocent. They're not. But they ought to at least vote the right way when it comes time to start voting next month.
Republicans have acted disgracefully so far, and the mistreatment of Cruz in this latest context is just one of many results. There are more to come. There are consequences to the sort of foolishness Republicans have been practicing over the last several months.
Who would have thought, a year ago, that a liberal so dubiously claiming to have become conservative, like Trump, would be leading the race for the Republican nomination, that conservative leaders like Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal would be driven out with so little interest in their candidacy and with a low-single-digit standing in the polls, and that so many conservative commentators would be saying that Trump had won a debate largely by defending New York values against a conservative like Cruz? It's surreal.
I listened to Michael Medved's radio program yesterday. Among the political radio programs that are the most popular, I think Medved's is the best. But in some ways, yesterday's show was one of his worst ever, maybe the worst. He spent a large percentage of the program criticizing Cruz (who he frequently refers to as Shutdown Teddy, which is one of the ways in which he often treats Cruz worse than he treats Trump). Apparently, Medved sees this as an opportunity to do a lot of damage to Cruz. He placed a higher priority on damaging Cruz than on reviewing the debate as a whole, criticizing the worst candidate (Trump), and promoting the best one (Rubio, who Medved has acknowledged to be the best candidate on other occasions). Even though Cruz is a better candidate than Trump and made so many good points against Trump (including demonstrating how ignorant, liberal, and inconsistent Trump has been), even though so many other issues came up during the debate, Medved decided to spend most of his debate coverage going after Cruz. And most of that criticism was about his New York values comments. He also criticized Cruz on the issue of whether he's a natural born citizen, without interacting with what Cruz had said on the subject during the debate. Instead of continuing to criticize Trump the way he deserves to be criticized, Medved straddles the fence by sometimes criticizing him and sometimes joining the bandwagon of Republicans trying to prop Trump up as a much better candidate than he actually is. Even though Medved has generally been more responsible than most Republicans and most talk radio hosts in handling this presidential campaign, even he's shown remarkably poor judgment at times.
What's likely to happen from here is that Cruz and Rubio will continue to be the two most likely nominees. Rubio is the better of the two, and he's still more likely to win. (The earliest states favor Cruz in a way that can mislead you if you don't look beyond those states.) Trump won't be the nominee, but he'll have been far more successful than he should have been. And he'll continue to be a thorn in the side of Republicans, a frequent distraction, a weight around their necks, and an inspiration for future candidates of a similar nature to run for office (and not just at the presidential level). He'll cause problems for good candidates, turn some good candidates into worse ones, and inspire bad candidates to run. I don't expect people like Levin and Limbaugh to acknowledge their responsibility for these things. I expect to get a lot more revisionism from them. Trump's influence has been more bad than good overall, and this presidential campaign has been going much worse than it could and should have. That's largely because of the immaturity of most Republicans, often encouraged by the likes of Levin and Limbaugh.