Late Wednesday night we had a post here at the Hayride on the Heidi Cruz-Melania Trump mess and how it has darkened the skies around the Republican primary contest.
We’re not for Trump, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that we see his conduct as disqualifying.
It ought to be said that the Super PAC who started this mess, an outfit with the whimsical name Make America Awesome, probably ought to be shut down. Its chief operative Liz Mair has a reputation for being something of a Typhoid Mary for Republican politicians; Mair’s clients include the McCain campaign in 2008, Carly Fiorina’s Senate campaign in 2010, Rick Perry in 2012 and Scott Walker this cycle. There are folks who say she does good work but it doesn’t seem she’s ever on a winning roster.
And what she did with that Facebook ad containing a nude photo of Melania Trump targeted to Mormon women in Utah was bitchy, rude and counterproductive.
Make America Awesome is an anti-Trump PAC. That effectively makes it a pro-Cruz PAC even if it isn’t. And since ignorance of how things actually work is a primary characteristic of what drives the Trump campaign – his supporters, or a large number of them, seem to be insistent on oversimplification of complex issues beyond what one would expect from an average voter – it should have been easily foreseeable that going into the gutter to attack Trump’s wife would be attributed to Cruz.
And, naturally, it was. Trump saw the Mair Facebook ad as a pretext to go after Ted Cruz’ wife, which it appears he’s now going to do.
And he’s also got his pals at the National Enquirer smearing Cruz with a story about how Cruz has had five affairs with various women – one being Cruz’ former media director Amanda Carpenter, who’s now a cable news talking head (and really good at it, by the way), and another being current Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson.
As it happens, I’m Facebook friends with Katrina, who I like a lot, and so I asked her straight-out if the National Enquirer thing was true…
You’d figure if it was true it would be in her interest to say so; she’d be in a position to tube Cruz’ campaign on behalf of her boss. The fact she said no is good enough for us.
Carpenter has also denied she had an affair with Cruz. So that’s 40 percent of the story debunked already.
Understand that Trump and the Enquirer go back a ways, and that paper has been doing the dirty work for Trump’s campaign this entire cycle – accusing Jeb Bush of being involved in the drug trade, painting Ben Carson as a quack doctor, savaging Carly Fiorina over the fact it was her stepdaughter, rather than her daughter, who died of a drug overdose.
The campaign is officially in the gutter, and it’s only going to get worse. Cruz pulled off a monster victory in Utah with 69 percent of the vote, and though he managed less delegates from that win than Trump did in winning Arizona the response was typical – Trump went intensely personal on Twitter while his allies in the blogosphere began spreading stories about how Cruz cheated to win in Utah. Just like when Cruz bested Trump in Iowa, Trump and his people fanned that idiotic accusation that somehow Cruz “stole” one caucus vote in 10 from Ben Carson, who received exactly the vote independent polling said he would get, by spreading a CNN story about Carson’s potential exit from the race on caucus night.
Understand how ridiculous those accusations are, on three levels. First, Cruz needed 50.1 percent of the vote in Utah to get all the delegates there. So he cheated to get 69 percent? Why go to all the trouble? Second, Trump didn’t finish second in Utah, he finished third, behind John Kasich. Kasich couldn’t even beat Marco Rubio next door in Arizona and Rubio has been out of the race for two weeks. Perhaps Cruz cheated to make that happen as well. And third, who in their right mind actually thinks Trump’s shtick would fly in Utah, of all places? Utahns are the most strait-laced people in America, and they tend to take morality a good bit more seriously than the rest of the country. On what planet would anybody think Trump would be popular there?
Popularity is an issue increasingly turning against Trump. The latest round of polls which show him falling behind Hillary Clinton in a general election matchup tell a far worse story on the inside, namely that his disapproval ratings are irretrievably awful.
ABC News/Washington Post had Trump’s disapproval at a staggering 68 percent. Bloomberg also had it at 68 percent. CNN had it at 67. Fox at 65.
Those numbers would be damning enough for a governor or a senator nobody knew of before the campaign got started; such a candidate might be able to turn them around by trying to have the public get to know him better and rebranding his image.
But that’s not who Trump is. There isn’t a soul in America who doesn’t know who Trump is. And everybody has an opinion.
Now, Trump is able to call on some pretty impressive loyalty from anywhere between one quarter to two fifths of Republican primary voters, and he’s won a lot of primary races and piled up a decent number of delegates thanks to that bloc of voters. The problem is growing that support.
He can’t do it. He probably could do it on policy; the core of Trump’s message is playable within a GOP electorate and maybe even a general electorate. But Trump isn’t a good spokesman on policy; he makes gaffes and inconsistent statements galore when he tries to discuss big, complex issues. That wouldn’t be a major problem early in a primary race, but he hasn’t done anything to fix it and we’re more than halfway to the convention now. It’s not going to get better.
The problem is he’s personally unelectable. He’s let himself be perceived as racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, untrustworthy, vulgar and vile. Most of all he’s allowed people to think of him as classless.
Trump’s people say he’s tough and that he’s a fighter. That’s fine; fighting spirit certainly brings with it some appeal. But being willing to fight and being a bully and a dirty fighter are two different things, and people still want to look up to the president. Trump has made it so people don’t look up to him. They see him as a lout, and a small, petty man.
I personally dislike Trump because his record shows he’s not a conservative and he can’t be trusted to do what he says he’ll do. If he’s a Nixon, I’ve seen worse things; Clinton and Obama are Nixonian figures even more willing to bend the rules than Nixon was and having that come back in their faces would be just desserts for Democrats. If Trump really was on my side I could live with his personal eccentricities and petty squabbling.
But he hasn’t earned that trust. And worse, he’s driving away voters in droves. He’s taking on the appearance of a loser.
Cruz is likely to have won the last three primaries after he wins Wisconsin and North Dakota in the next couple of weeks. Trump might have more delegates, and Trump might have some friendly-looking states coming up, but by Tax Day it’s going to likely be Cruz with the momentum. And if the current pattern holds, the race will only get nastier.
It’s already set Republican against Republican in a war of all against all reminiscent of the ancient Norse myth of Ragnarok. And from this vantage it’s Trump’s fault. We’ve had tough internecine primary fights before, but nothing like this until he came along.
It’s filthy, it’s ugly and it’s unprecedented. We already had a problem in this country with electoral campaigns being a sewer very few decent people would subject themselves to. How is anyone of character ever going to run for office in the future if this is what’s facing them?
The Democrats aren’t this bad, mostly because Bernie Sanders is a coward and a louse. He’s actually justified in going full revolutionary given the way Hillary Clinton is outright stealing the nomination from him, and he won’t go there. He’ll only issue useless platitudes along those lines.
Which means we might very well see the Republican Party not only blow an easy opportunity to unseat Barack Obama in 2012 but an even easier one to capture an open seat in the White House this year. Had Trump not come along the mess would not be this big.
– This is how bad it has gotten. For those of our readers who aren’t familiar with Michael Berry, he’s a syndicated radio host out of Houston. And Berry, who is a personal friend of Ted Cruz, has been outspoken in support of the Houston resident and Texas senator.
Berry’s show has been inundated lately with abusive Trump fan callers. And he’s had enough. This morning he unloaded on a particularly rude, crankish one.
– You can spend all kinds of money on dog toys that look like exotic animals or household implements or whatever, but at the end of the day what keeps them occupied longest before it gets destroyed…is an empty plastic jug that orange juice came in.
There’s no point in fighting it. You just have to accept it.
And I would have video, but Bingle is carrying the damn thing around at such high speed this morning that footage is impossible. This is a fair approximation…