If the Trump Roast Is Done, Give the Crucians Some Credit

Polls with Cruz surging, Trump flat at best, are reinforcing a general sense – once a hope, now an expectation – that Wisconsin next week will be Trump’s electoral Stalingrad. As I put it on Twitter a few days ago:

Or, observing another straw in the wind:

By the next day, as one goofy-heretical Trumpism piled on top of another, observers were reviving suspicions not strongly voiced since the end of last Fall:

Comedian Lynn Bixenspan summed up my feelings:

I wasn’t able to be as pithy:

Switching metaphors:

No need to review the week of stupidity etc. – most of it seemingly unforced errors by Trump himself, some of the worst ones subsequent my Monday tweet – not when other observers are already casting their wisdom retrospectively to earlier turning points, when Trump seemed to miss whatever chance he had, against character, to unify the party around him.

We may never again see a frontrunner as obviously unacceptable as Donald Trump has been. Indeed, we may someday look back nostalgically on the brute who was kind enough to be brutally open about his brutality, who was obvious and crass enough about it so that even people as de-sensitized as we are finally figured him out.

Of course, we will not be able to move on until the returns in the upcoming primaries have produced the requisite rout. Assuming the Trump roasted is roasted, and we’re just waiting for the thermometer to verify, one theme that should not be lost along the way is one that occurred to me as more a never-Trumpish hope than any kind of prediction several weeks ago, around the time it became clear, much to my own surprise, that Cruz had won the process of elimination for logical Republican choice. Without using Trump as a battering ram against “establishment” resistance, further-right Cruz would never have been able to present himself as the authentic “unity” candidate of an in some respects expanded Republican coalition. He had always hoped to becomes the inheritor of Trump’s constituency.

Like all of the rest of us, including Trump and his voters, Cruz and his team may have underestimated how long it would take for the tectonic shift in the sub-structure of the race to occur. They likely hoped to depend on nominally “evangelical” voters to carry them through the first part of the primary, and did not fully recognize how much they needed the terror of Trump to drive the rest of the party into Cruz’s arms. Still, their theory of the race seems to be holding.

Its completion would not just be the nomination, would be the smooth integration of Trump voters – the heirs of the Reagan Democrats – into a general election majority. A few months ago the idea of Ted Cruz as Republican mainstream candidate would have seemed even more unlikely, but before we move on to a doubly premature handicapping of Cruz v Clinton General Election, we should give Cruz and his team due credit for a brilliantly run campaign – and even if something goes awry for them between now and July in Cleveland. They should not even have gotten this far.

2 comments on “If the Trump Roast Is Done, Give the Crucians Some Credit

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  1. I also think Trump is fading, even if he has made fools of pundits and prophets in the past. It is probably a mix of people realizing that they really don’t want a man like him to be president and getting bored of the whole thing.

    Unless he tops himself with something even more outlandish. Then he is back on top, right?

    • Unless he tops himself with something even more outlandish. Then he is back on top, right?

      I don’t think so. “Topping” what he’s done the last week – something like a global assault on everything a Republican or any candidate in his position ought to be doing – it would have to involve some kind of felony, atrocity, or expression of sheer babbling insanity… Maybe a full frontal assault on his own most loyal supporters… At some point you reach the far end of the keyboard and there just aren’t any lower notes to play… So it’s a question of whether people like the theme enough to hear another set of variations in the same range. We’re assuming that the reason he needs to get even lower is that people are in fact (finally) getting tired of the song.

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