Monday, April 25, 2016

Trump Takes The Cruz-Kasich Bait

by JASmius

The man is utterly Pavlovian, isn't he?  Never have I seen a human being more paranoid, more thin-skinned, and more relentlessly predictable than Donald Trump, who can be counted on to do pretty much everything that will hurt himself politically if helping himself means exercising the slightest modicum of discretion and self-control.

Rather than ignoring the (temporary) Cruz-Kasich alliance, as a real frontrunner would do, are at least limiting himself to that one "desperation" Tweet, he had to unload on a rival he outnumbers in delegates 6-1 and is almost as thin-skinned as he is:

"GOP" frontrunner Donald Trump was back on the offensive Monday in Rhode Island, assailing rival candidate John Kasich for eating “in such a disgusting fashion.”

Trump blasted Kasich and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) for essentially teaming up to block him from getting the requisite 1,237 delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.

“Now you look at Kasich,” Trump said. “Did you see him? He has a news conference all the time when he’s eating. I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion.”... 
“I’m always telling my young son, Baron. I’m always with my kids, all of them. I’d say, children, small little bites,” Trump said. “This guy takes a pancake and he shoves it in his mouth. It’s disgusting. Do you want that for your president? I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Honestly, it’s disgusting.”

The billionaire hit him again for his eating style a few minutes later, remarking that his own son had seen Kasich eating food on the television.

First, I've never watched John Kashich eat, so I cannot speak to how "disgustingly" he does or does not do so.  These two links - one describing the Ohio governor consuming kosher pickles, the other describing him daintily eating pizza with a knife and fork - would seem to give the lie to the particular gratuitous, irrelevant to everything charge.  Which is also to say that Trump was, as always, being Trump, entertaining his cultists while running a high risk of making a full enemy of the man whose delegates could preemptively "trump" Ted Cruz's subsequent-ballot delegate-recruitment operation.  It's stupid, it's unnecessary - would Trumpmaniacs really desert him for not ridiculing Kasich as "Sloppy John"? - but, once again, it's simply who he is, and why Paul Manafort's attempts to fabricate a "presidential" version of Trump are spectacularly Sisyhpean.

In a way, Trump followed the exact opposite ethic of his former nemesis. Jeb Bush said that a Republican candidate should be willing to lose the Republican primary in order to win the general election. Dutifully, Bush lost the primary. Trump has done the opposite — he was willing to lose the general election to win the primary. He used every trick he had for generating free media, and whipping up the intense support of about one-third of the Republican electorate in the primary contests. It just so happens that he did this in a way that cost him the chance of ever winning over the enthusiastic support of the rest of the party apparatus, and any chance of winning a normal general election campaign.

Becoming an establishment creature now would dispirit many of Trump’s core supporters. It would wreck any momentum his candidacy had....Trump will have worse problems than even Mitt Romney did in trying to explain the convenient evolution of his views. Trump’s unreliability extends even to his own stunts. Months ago he skipped a Fox News debate to raise $6 million for veterans. They haven’t seen the money. [emphasis added]

This is where I differ somewhat from Hot Air's Allahpundit.  As I said above, I don't think Trumplicans will take a walk on him if he doesn't keep up his Don Rickles impression 24/7.  I do think they would fly the coop in betrayed disgust if he morphed into a faux-blonde Mitt Romney.  Remember that Trump fanatics are as puerile and short attention-spanned as their hero is; they support him for his incessant bare-knuckle verbal brawling way more than they do any issues stances he's contrived over the past ten months.  Trumplicans love Trump because he ball-shots all the people they hate (i.e. "He fights!").  If he became those people, it would be more than they could tolerate for an entire general campaign, while not remotely convincing anybody outside his cult that he had truly changed to a "presidential" demeanor.  In other words, the irony is that as badly as his true persona would get him killed in November, he'd do better in a general campaign by being himself than by "playing the role" of a conventional major party candidate.

The double-irony here is that doing what was necessary to win the primary at the cost of losing the general election might ultimately cost him the primary as well.

UPDATE: If the (temporary) Cruz-Kasich co-belligerency is a "trigger" for Trump, then this will burst some of his capillaries:

.@jonkarl says Ted Cruz may name a running mate soon to shake up the race—and he has a guess as to who that might be

....Carly Fiorina, ladies and gentlemen.  Makes sense; she was the first dropped-out candidate to endorse Cruz, and she would definitely offset the "vagina factor" on the other ticket.  In primary terms, she could help the Texas senator in California on June 7th, which will be mandatory for holding Trump well under 1,237.  And she would be a very effective surrogate to go after Hairboy over the next six weeks.

Only real drawback that I can see is that by naming a running mate now, it would cut down on Cruz's wheeling-dealing options at a contested convention, and might push Kasich and his handful of delegates into Trump's waiting hands.  But then I doubt if even "Sloppy John" is capable of convincing himself that Cruz would ever offer his #2 spot to him, or that he would even be interested in it.  He'd be much more active in a Trump Regime anyway, since he'd be the only member of the ticket who actually knew anything about running a government.

As Ross Douthat tweeted today....

Picking a running mate now could limit his deal-making options at the convention. But first you gotta get to the convention.

....and given that Pennsylvania is the only northeastern State in which Cruz has a chance of not getting blown out tomorrow, it behooves him to change the PR narrative to try and steal some of Trump's end zone celebrating by pushing The Donald's Pavlovian buttons as much as he can.

UPDATE II: It's in the works:

According to a spokeswoman for Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and one-time presidential candidate is being vetted by Cruz’s campaign.

“Normal stuff,” said Sarah Isgur Flores, who served as deputy campaign manager during Fiorina’s bid, when asked about the process. She added that Fiorina has met with members of the Cruz campaign and has given them financial disclosures and other documentation. Flores added that “no offers” have been made....

Cruz campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart provided a statement to TWS. “We’ve already announced publicly that we’re vetting prospecting VP nominees, but no selection has been made yet. When that decision has been made, we will share it.”

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