.....and so what? Trump went nuclear on Jeb Bush back in the summer when he was the presumptive GOP frontrunner, and then he went nuclear on Ben Carson a couple of months ago after the Doc had passed him up in State and national polls - after practically promising not to. That's simply what The Donald does, especially when he - which is to say, his stupendous ego - feels threatened.
And so here came the torrent of vitriol in Senator Cruz's direction:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has finally unleashed a verbal assault on the one rival he has so far spared.
Trump went after Ted Cruz at a town hall event in Iowa Friday evening, accusing the Texas senator of being beholden to big oil companies because he opposes ethanol subsidies, which are deeply popular in this agricultural State.
Which is to say, Cruz is pro-energy and anti-corporate welfare - a capitalist, in other words. While Trump is making himself sound ever more like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Not the first time I've observed that he's running in the wrong party. D'ya s'pose that's why Cruz isn't firing back in kind? You know the old saying about when your enemy is self-destructing, get out of his way and let him finish.
“He’s a nice guy. I mean, everything I say he agrees with me, no matter what I say,” Trump began. “But with the ethanol, really, he’s got to come a long way.”
Trump has a point here. Cruz has been positively obsequious in his sucking up to Trump in the hopes of luring away his supporters in order to expand his coalition. He's already scooped up Ben Carson's group, and now....wait, looky what Trumplicans are saying about the Texas junior senator:
Of course, voter preference is fluid and the Iowa caucuses are still six weeks away. But Cruz’s strategy of embracing, rather than attacking, Trump — even after Trump makes controversial or offensive statements — appears to have served him well, at least so far. In the new poll, respondents who say they support Trump have an extremely positive view of Cruz: 73% view him favorably, while 18% view him unfavorably. Asked to state their second-choice preference, these Trump supporters overwhelming pick Cruz (49%), with Rubio (16%) a distant second. If Trump falters or alienates his current supporters, they appear quite open to supporting Cruz. [emphasis added]
Half of Trumplicans, in other words, are ripe for the taking. And as Guy Benson gamed out this morning, redistributing Carson's and Jeb Bush's remaining support beforehand creates a three-way tie between Trump, Cruz, and Marco Rubio:
[L]et's assume....that there's merit to the conventional wisdom that Republicans' nominating contest will eventually boil down to Trump, Cruz and Rubio. That would mean that Carson - who's in free-fall and reportedly canceling ad buys - exits the race, as does the floundering Jeb Bush. Where would their supporters go? My guesstimate is that among Carson's 13%, that group would split roughly eight for Cruz, three for Rubio and two for Trump. Jeb's nine percent would break seven for Rubio and two for Cruz. Your new score? Cruz 34%, Trump 32%, Rubio 31%. A three-way tie, within the margin of error.
And if three-quarters of that 32% went to Cruz versus a quarter to Rubio, a Cruz-Rubio showdown turns into a 58%-39% laugher. Which suggests that Trump's attempt to point out - entirely validly, I might add - that all of Cruz's fratricidal agitating in the Senate has amounted to nothing other than to thoroughly alienate his Republican colleagues and pretty much the entire party outside its Tea Party wing - which is to say, Cruz, unlike The Mighty Donald, is incapable of "making deals" to "get things done" - might be more likely to backfire on him than it is to damage the senator. The reason why is sublimely simple: It matters just exactly what "gets done". And it doesn't matter a whit to the turd-in-every-pocket slumlord:
Donald Trump is out for one thing, Donald Trump's personal aggrandizement. He cares nothing about you. He cares nothing about your aspirations and dreams. Don't misunderstand him when he pays attention to you. He's just trying to get what he wants from you, an earthshattering ego stroke.
Trump believes in nothing, which is why he will say anything. That’s why he's all over the map, varying his positions not only year-to-year, month-to-month, week-to-week, but even hour-to-hour. First he wants to send all Mexicans home, then maybe not all Mexicans, then yes, all Mexicans, then no, not the great ones. The same with Muslims. One minute it's every Muslim gets excluded, then the next minute no, we're going to let some of them back. Who knows what will be tomorrow. I do – whatever gets him the most attention.
And gets him elected. So in reality, Trumplicans have no credible grounds for believing that their hero would get them what they wanted, and even less reason to expect that he would be able to get it for them even if he tried. How would he get leftwingnut protectionist policies out of a Republican Congress? Or hardcore anti-illegal immigration policies out of a Democrat one? With his magic "Green Lantern" powers? He would be a president without a party from day one, after all. And that's what Ted Cruz's fratricidal floundering on Capitol Hill illustrates: That there is no wand-waving, Fairy Godparent-conjured shortcut to domestic or foreign policy statecraft - for a Republican POTUS, anyway. Just the boring, slow, frustrating, maddening, log-rolling legislative process with all the Constitution's checks and balances (hopefully back) in place gumming up the process and preventing the wild policy swings that our Polaroid political culture craves.
And if that's the best we can do, is it not better to have a POTUS who knows what needs to be done and can be counted on to do his best to carry it out, versus one who is only in it for himself and nobody else?
You see how that pristine logic would get buried by the spectacle of another Trump-driven public pissing match? Or his thinly velied racism, for that matter?:
Trump also appeared to take a veiled shot at Cruz’s family background, suggesting Cruz might have trouble appealing to the State’s evangelical voters. “I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba,” he said of the country where Cruz’s father, an evangelical preacher, was born.
Strictly speaking, Ted Cruz didn't come out of Cuba. And his father did as an evangelical. Did Christ not say in the Great Commission, "Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations...."? Does not Revelation 7:9 describe "a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands"? We're to understand that Trump is attempting to appeal to evangelicals by for all intents and purposes taking a dump on the entire New Testament? No wonder Cruz is hoovering up evangelical support.
Ted Cruz's bromance with Donald Trump has been unsavory and wince- (if not nausea-) inducing, to put it mildly. But it sure looks like it's paying dividends, and giving life to the biblical adage, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Which is why Ted Cruz may be precisely the opposite of the "flavor of the month" - or, as a Trump flunky incoherently put it....
....but might be the Trump-slayer most of us have been looking for.
Not that that wouldn't be an unmixed blessing in terms of electability and such. But at least our party would still be our party....
UPDATE: Is Rush Limbaugh finally seeing the light after a long, six-month detour into darkness?:
And then he dumped on Cruz for being opposed to ethanol? In other words, we as Republicans must support government subsidies to corn farmers in Iowa if we’re to have any chance of winning Iowa? We’ve gotta stand for subsidies? And that, again, is not a conservative position. To go after Cruz on that basis, is again the way the Democrats and the media would go after him, and then there was this Sunday morning on CNN’s State of the Union, Jake Tapper.
“What do you think of Justice Scalia’s remarks, and where are you today on affirmative action?”
TRUMP: I thought it was very tough to the African-American community, actually. I don’t like what he said. I actually saw it in print, and I’m going… I read a lot of stuff. I’m going, “Whoa.” I have great African-American friendships. I have just amazing relationships. But, yeah, I was very surprised at Scalia’s statements, actually.
i.e. "Some of my best friends are colored people".
RUSH: Well, they weren’t “Scalia’s statements.” They were arguments that had been submitted to the court that he was engaging in oral argument over. But these are two things that… If you’re a conservative voter in the Republican primary, these two things have gotta raise some red flags for you people, I would think.
I would thing the red flags would have been a-fluttering for El Rushbo six months ago. And since he's not stupid even with both hemispheres tied behind his back, I can only conclude that Ted Cruz's recent rise to the top of the polls means the coast is clear for him, and perhaps the rest of the national conservative talk radio pantheon, to belatedly join the twilight struggle to avert the hostile takeover of the Republican Party by Hillary Clinton.
And, of course, join me where I've been on Trump since day one.
Limbaugh engaging in "JASmius Echo Syndrome". If I didn't still harbor fond hopes of earning a living in the same field, I'd say that's something on which I could retire from it.