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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz & The Prisoners' Dilemma

by JASmius

Here's how the Prisoners' Dilemma works: There are two friends who are also convicts; each has the opportunity to escape their incarceration, but if they cooperate, they can both escape.  The catch is, they can't communicate or coordinate with each other, so neither knows what the other is thinking.  If either convict takes the selfish route, he can escape, but guarantees that his comrade will not; if either waits for the chance to cooperate to spring them both, they could both escape, or both wind up missing their opportunity.

The analogy isn't a perfect fit, because neither freshman Latino senator has a viable unilateral nomination ("escape") path at this point; the only way of "escape" for not so much them as their party and its continuation as a conservative entity is their hatchet-burying cooperation.

And according to Team Dezi, that's not remotely about to happen:

Rubio has yet to aggressively engage Trump — and those briefed on his strategy say he’s unlikely to do so on Thursday night.

The Florida senator has concluded that going after Trump would accomplish little because the businessman’s supporters are deeply committed and unlikely to swing Rubio’s way. Inciting a confrontation with Trump onstage would create drama but wouldn’t help the senator gain voters, something he badly needs as he looks for his first primary win.

Instead, Rubio’s team has decided his best bet is to focus fire on Cruz. They think the Texas senator’s voters are less locked in and could swing Rubio’s way should Cruz fade. The only way to dislodge Trump, Rubio’s advisers say, is to turn it into a two-man race — meaning that they first need to get Cruz out of the way.

And Cruz's advisors are saying the same thing about Rubio.  As says John Kasich's advisors and Ben Carson's advisors and said Chris Christie's advisors and Jeb Bush's advisors and so on and so on and so on, ad nauseous infinitum.  The entire GOP campaign has been dominated by this "second place mentality," the stubborn, unshakable, ironclad belief that the only way to defeat Trump is to nuke everybody else out of the race first on the belief that then dispatching him will be a mere formality.  And, to be fair, polls have consistently shown both Rubio and Cruz, at least, indeed defeating Trump one-on-one.

What the thundering Pachyderm herd never considered is how much damage each of them would take in the process of reaching "the finals," and how much damage Trump would be spared at the same time.  It's like Neo's final fight with the Agent-Smithized Oracle at the end of Matrix III: Revolutions prior to allowing Smith to assimilate him in order to facilitate the Machines' destruction of the Smith contagion from within.  Sure, Neo (appeared to have) won, but he was all beat to hell and in no condition to take on the rest of the Smith army; they'd have easily liquidated him.  The same is true of whichever battered and bloodied survivor finally staggered dazedly forward to face The Donald.  Especially now, when the pompadoured prince is on a three-contest winning streak, has all the momentum, and with a Super Tuesday blast wave looming in only five days.

Neither Rubio nor Cruz, in other words, can take out Trump on their own; they have to cooperate to do so, and save the GOP in the process.  The problem is not that they can't communicate, but that they refuse to do so.  There's no meeting of the minds, no sacrifice of personal ambition to see the bigger picture of the cataclysm that's about to happen.

For Rubes, it's a final, last-chance opportunity that is about to slip away:

Trump is the dire threat here, not Cruz, yet Rubio seems content to prioritize his own ambitions over conservatives’ needs by wrecking Cruz while Trump sails along winning primaries. Cruz spent six months last year bro-hugging Trump but he did finally unload on him in January (and won Iowa for his trouble). He’s been fighting him nearly singlehandedly ever since. Now Rubio’s following the same bro-hug strategy — disagreeing with Trump from time to time, yes, but usually very politely and only on select policy matters. The difference is, Trump’s nineteen days away from all but clinching the nomination if he hasn’t already. There’s no time for another round of bro-hugging. And the more Rubio insists on it, the more he risks alienating righties who are desperate for a champion....

If Rubio were to effectively take on Trump, he’d have a lot of conservatives cheering him on, and he’d prove to undecided voters that he’d be the best person to be in the final two, and simultaneously help fight the notion that he’s too wet behind the ears to take on [Sanders]. If, instead, he overthinks things, goes after Cruz, and lets his last best hope of confronting Trump before Super Tuesday go up in smoke, he’ll come off looking like a [yes, pussy] who isn’t ready to take on Trump, let alone [Bernie Sanders], and will demoralize many conservatives in the process.

Given that Rubio is a football fanatic, let me use a football anology. Would Rubio rather that his Dolphins go into the last week of the regular season depending on other teams losing to make the playoffs? Or would he rather they control their own destiny? If he’d rather control his own destiny, he should go directly at Trump rather than craft a strategy that’s contingent on other candidates dropping out.

That's Rubio's problem right there - when's the last time the Miami Dolphins were worth a damn?  Or the Tampa Buccaneers or Jacksonville Jaguars, for that matter?

Maybe Cruz can exploit this idiocy by blasting Trump with everything he's got and when Rubio opens up on him instead of joining him, point out to the audience who is fighting for conservatism and who's fighting for mere personal political ambition.  He'd have a point, even if no Rubions heeded it - which they probably wouldn't.

It's worth considering for the Texas senator, given that he, at least, is fifteen points up in his home State versus sixteen points behind.  Anybody think he'll take this advice?  Nah, me neither.

UPDATE: Rank incompetence, or unilateral disarmament?:

Multiple Republican campaign sources and operatives have confided that none of the remaining candidates for president have completed a major anti-Trump opposition research effort. There are several such efforts being run by outside conservative organizations. But those efforts are still gathering intel on the businessman after having started late in the primary season, these sources told the Huffington Post. And they worry that it may come too late…

“Not taking Trump seriously as a candidate a year ago was a mistake we all made, so I don’t blame his Republican opponents for that. But the lack of evidence that they have been doing thorough research on Trump more recently is malpractice,” said [former DNC research director Shauna] Daly. “[I]f a Republican had committed six recent college grads to power through a Nexis dump in November and December, by January they’d have been able to compile a powerful narrative amplified by names and quotes that they could have put in ads by now.”…

Indeed, one Democrat opposition research said that they’ve spent the past eight months compiling material on Trump as he’s risen up the ranks. That’s actually not a lot of time. Democrats had started focusing on Mitt Romney in 2009 — a full two years before he ran again for the presidency. But those eight months have produced some good.

That researcher estimated that of all the material they’ve compiled — court and property records, newspaper clips and videos — approximately 80% of it has yet to surface in this election cycle. [emphases added]

The Republicans have let an unwitting Donk sleeper agent walk in and take over the party without firing a shot, and the Democrats are going to wipe out them, and him, in one swift, devastating blow.


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