Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Trump claims that Ted Cruz's father helped to assassinate JFK

On the eve of the crucial Indiana primary, Donald Trump went on Fox News today to accuse Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz, of involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy more than 40 years ago. As Trump put it:

“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. 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.”

The basis for that extraordinary claim is a grainy photograph of Oswald in 1963 in New Orleans, where he is distributing pro-Castro literature on the street.  An unidentified man in the background -- also apparently distributing leaflets -- has somehow been identified as Rafael Cruz by the National Enquirer, the same publication that had previously published a garbage report claiming that Ted Cruz had multiple unnamed mistresses.

There is no evidence to substantiate the charge against Rafael Cruz. There is no evidence that Cruz was in New Orleans at the time, no evidence that he was pro-Castro at the time, no evidence that he ever crossed paths with Oswald or was in any way involved in the JFK assassination. It is ludicrous.

Of course, there is also no evidence that the ludicrous nature of the claim will matter to Trump voters, who had previously been trained to believe that President Obama was born in Kenya, that a stand-down order had been issued at Benghazi so that our personnel would die there, that Obama hates America and wants to impose Sharia law and that Hillary Clinton will soon get indicted and imprisoned over her email server.  They have been conditioned to believe almost anything, as if wishing it were true makes it true, and like any grifter, Trump is quick to take advantage.

Ted Cruz, for one, was not amused:

“I’m going to do something I haven’t done for the entire campaign: ...I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump,” he said. “This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies, practically every word that comes out of his mouth. The man is utterly amoral; morality does not exist for him.”

I agree. Yet that man is about to be the GOP's presumptive nominee for president of the United States.

I've been asked often which would be worse as our president, Cruz or Trump. My answer has always been Trump, for the reasons that Cruz describes above. Trump is unmoored, and many of his followers are equally unmoored. There is no telling where we might end up if they are put in positions of authority, and I cannot tolerate the idea of Trump within an arm's reach of the nuclear football. Cruz, for all his many faults, is not quite that.

Let me put it another way: In an alternate universe, if Trump had somehow managed to take the Democratic nomination and Cruz the Republican nod, I would do my patriotic duty and vote for Cruz in the general election. We don't live in that alternative universe, thank goodness, but a lot of Republicans probably think that we live in a nearby counterpart.

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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.