Ted Cruz as Omarosa in 'The Apprentice'

Anyone familiar with stagecraft knows the watching public’s love of easily identifiable black hats, and so uses the timeless device of setting up at least one person to be the personification of evil.  For Shakespeare it was the treacherous Iago in Othello; for Dickens it was oleaginous Uriah Heep in David Copperfield; for Pierre de Laclos, it was the heartlessly manipulative Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Everyone clearly knows who the evil person is; everyone knows when to boo and hiss on cue. 

For Donald Trump, the villain of his script is Ted Cruz, who is made out to be the equivalent of Omarosa Manigault of The Apprentice.

Watchers of Trump’s show will recall Omarosa, who first came to public attention in 2004 after becoming a participant in the reality TV series.  Because of her vicious tactics, impenetrably hard exterior, and refusal to ever play nice, Omarosa became a woman America loved to hate.  Apparently she followed her scripted part well, as she became a regular sidekick, even collaborating with Trump to create a dating show.  A former Clinton staff member, Omarosa is now cast in a new role as Trump’s director of African-American outreach. 

Different play; different script.  No longer villainess, but heroine.

This is how it’s done in Trump reality shows: if you can play the part required, you can be anything Trump wants you to be.  If you won’t play as directed, you are cast as villain.

Enter Ted Cruz, Trump’s favorite villain and whipping boy.  Just as Omarosa was cast as villainess and then rewarded for playing her part well by being given a part in the next act of the Trump play, Cruz was cast as lying and heartless – “Lyin’ Ted.”  His wife Heidi was held up as homely in comparison to the beauteous heroine Melania.  Cruz’s family heritage was portrayed as tainted by a treacherous father who participated in the plot to kill JFK.

Having served as villain and whipping boy, Cruz was then given a starring role in the drama that was the Republican Convention, doubtless in the hope he would endorse Trump, a man who had continually dishonored him and cast Cruz’s beloved father as the reality show equivalent of Brutus or John Wilkes Booth.

The play was to be rewritten, with Cruz dutifully acting out the part of team player.

But to his everlasting credit, Cruz did not play out the script as written.  Instead, he gave a rousing speech honoring conservatism and, while graciously congratulating Trump for his victory, refused to endorse him, calling on all Americans to “vote your conscience.”

For going off script and for refusing to be whatever character Trump required at the moment, Cruz was once again conveniently cast as the villain.  Scripted boos ensued, while Heidi Cruz was hustled off the convention floor, escorted by security and Ken Cuccinelli, while Trump supporters called out “Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs.”  She was cast as the female equivalent of Bernie Madoff.

It was quite a show.  It was high drama.  It was high noon at the OK Corral.

Wasn’t it exciting?

But it was all as scripted as the character of Omarosa in The Apprentice.  It was all geared to bolster the image of The Donald, whose rock star entrance at the RNC – striding through the mist into the light was as serious a statement as Obama’s Greek columns.  All that remained was to change the fanfare to Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”  (Be sure to turn up the volume.)

The entire scripted RNC play was a harbinger of the presidency to come if Donald Trump is elected.  We will see four solid years of pure theater, with him in the starring role while everyone else gets the part he has written out as surely as he has written the scripts for all his productions.

What a “reality” show we are in for.