I had planned to write today about the results of the Democrat caucus in Iowa, the one where Hillary declared victory over Bernie Sanders by virtue of six miraculous coin tosses. Well, that was the plan.
Then Donald Trump did what he does best, thrusting himself back into the limelight. After slightly more than 24 hours of relative silence in which the electorate was lulled into the illusion that he had accepted the judgment of Republican caucus-goers, he unleashed a barrage of tweets accusing Ted Cruz of having stolen the victory from him.
The Twitterer-in-Chief is now demanding that the results of the caucus be nullified and another vote be taken. That’s patent nonsense, of course. Nothing is going to be nullified; there will not be a “do-over” for Trump’s sake.
What has so ruffled Trump this time? What is behind his assertion that Cruz deliberately stole a Trump victory?
Here are the facts as I have been able to ascertain them:
- During the caucus, a Ben Carson staffer, innocently I’m sure, gave out a garbled message about what Carson would be doing. He would not be going to New Hampshire at this time but would be returning to Florida, then go to DC for the National Prayer Breakfast.
- CNN then ran with this message, interpreting it as a signal from the Carson campaign that he was on the verge of dropping out of the race. I’ve viewed the video of the CNN talking heads. They definitely gave that impression.
- Someone in the Cruz campaign picked up on CNN’s false report and began to spread the word, urging Carson backers to now switch their vote to Cruz.
- The Carson people then strenuously denied that he was leaving the race and blamed the Cruz people of deliberately misleading voters.
- When the dust cleared, Cruz publicly apologized to Carson for what had happened, saying it was not anything his campaign had orchestrated but was an inadvertent slip-up.
Enter the sound and fury of Donald Trump. Again. As always. It’s all he ever has to offer.
Cruz won, he asserted, because of this illegal ploy. He had to remove that first tweet because of the word illegal—it could have led to legal trouble for him. But he didn’t back down. Because of what happened, he thundered, Cruz got enough Carson voters to deny Trump his deserved win.
After all, Trump is a winner. He never loses. If you don’t think so, just ask him. The only way he could ever lose is by trickery, deceit, and an outright conspiracy.
Here’s what I think about this episode:
- First, someone in the Carson campaign has to take the blame for an ambiguous message that could be misinterpreted. In fact, one reporter questioned Carson yesterday on that very point, but Carson wouldn’t acknowledge the role of his own staffer in starting this mess.
- Second, the main culprit here is CNN, running with a non-story and leading viewers to believe the Carson campaign was over. As Bill O’Reilly commented last night about this, CNN demonstrated extremely sloppy journalism. Neither have they apologized for the false reporting.
- Third, those in the Cruz campaign who picked up on the false story were too quick to try to capitalize on it. They should have gone to greater lengths to verify it before using it to attempt to get Carson voters to switch.
- Finally, regardless of the mess, neither Carson nor Cruz should have to fire anyone. Carson’s person never intended to mislead; Cruz’s followers were too quick to take advantage of the report. But there was nothing illegal, criminal, or dastardly in what they did. It was bad judgment.
- Here’s another “finally”: Trump would not have won regardless. He was out-organized by the Cruz team. It was a well-earned victory.
Trump also said that the reason we can’t believe anything Cruz says is because he was born in Canada. *Sigh*
I’m coming to the view that Donald Trump exhibits a particular strain of emotional instability that would be disastrous in the presidency. His constant stream of invective toward anyone who crosses him or who exposes his hubris should be a worry for his erstwhile supporters. Should a president resort to a continual assault of Twitter taunts and accusations? How presidential is that? What does this say about his character?
I’m also getting closer to believing that if he loses the nomination, Trump, to salve his bruised ego, will bolt the Republican party (as he has done a few times in the past) and run an independent campaign. If that happens, the false conservatism he is trying to display now to win Republican voters, will disappear, and he will say what he really thinks about policy, which will be decidedly liberal.
Donald Trump is a train wreck waiting to happen. If the Republican party attaches itself to him, it will be seriously damaged when that wreck occurs.