I’m already sick of this. Grossed out, really.
There is already an effort underway to re-cast the 2016 primary season with recrimination, acrimony …and quadruple-guessing the strategy and tactics deployed by the campaign of Senator Ted Cruz.
Clutching our pearls and wringing our hankies, we’re supposed to upbraid the good Senator because he didn’t attack Donald Trump soon enough.. or maybe it was too soon. I can’t keep track. And then, we’re supposed to shake our index finger in his general direction because he apologized to Ben Carson for re-telling the narrative on Iowa Caucus Night that Carson was dropping out. Oh, the horror!
And then, we were supposed to be angry at him for losing the southern primaries because he’d become “Lyin’ Ted”. God, I am SO SICK of these metastasizing urban legends popping up around the Cruz Campaign.
How ’bout some context, some perspective?
Four years ago, Ted Cruz was known to almost no one –outside of his immediate circle of friends, family, and the parking attendant at Capitol Parking Lot D in downtown Austin.
By contrast, the loathsome, detestable Donald Trump was finishing up his final season of The Apprentice, and his 38th year in the fuzzy-warm glow of a world-wide media spotlight that has always gotten a kick out of his weird hair, his endless self-promotion, and money-guzzling lifestyle.
By late 2012, Donald Trump had been a polyp on the collective rectum of the body politic for nearly forty years, since the early 1980’s– he was sort of the proto-Yuppie around which Tom Wolfe built a career . Ted Cruz, on the other hand, by early winter of ’13, was still figuring out where the light switches were in the Russell Senate Office building.
Some “insider”, eh…?
Also –again, nearly four years ago–, the shirt-button-popping lard-ass Roger Ailes was already up to his shoulders in the Jeb Bush cistern, having determined that, since his previous prom-date to the GOP Convention –Mitt Romney– had so recently crashed in flames that he had to pick the next most-prominent East Coast Patrician milquetoast with a modicum of name ID, and Bush fit the bill. So, it was three years of covering Jeb Bush on Fox News–for no earthly reason.
Who the heck cared what Jeb Bush was doing on a given Tuesday in August, 2014? But, there he was, on Fox. ..Yawn…
So, it was Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton at 30 paces. That was the state of play. Remember?
Then, Donald Trump descended the escalator at Dump Trower, like Chris Farley crashing an all-week fraternity kegger, and the 2016 primary race was on. Of course, with Trump’s “presence” in the race, the whole damned thing soon assumed the intellectual rigor of Kiddie Karnival at Cedar Street Head Start Skool.
Little Marco! Lyin’ Ted! Low Energy Jeb! Unibrow Rick! Fat Mike! Fatter Chris! Ugly Carly! Sweatin’ Bobby! 2% Rand! But, MISTER Trump has been on television for two generations now, so, he must be smart! And so on…
We know the drill.
But, these are the facts: In 2016, the Republican voting base was sick to death of Jeb Bush, along with anyone else that even had an odor of Eu de Washington. Nearly $160 million was pumped into Jeb’s campaign, and after the silverware was collected, and the tables were bussed, it was for a grand total of SIX DELEGATES. So, what was old Lard Ass Ailes (to borrow some artistic phraseology from the Trumpmaster) to do? He was running out of options…
Clearly, Ted Cruz was a madman who adamantly believed the bull-scat he voiced while running for office in Texas. Obviously, Ailes couldn’t support HIM. Cruz actually meant what he said about de-funding Obamacare, about standing up for religious liberty, and all that other stuff that made the likes of Bitch McConnell shrivel like a hypertensive man without his little blue pills.
So, the gig was up: If Cruz couldn’t be silenced, he could at least be ignored. And, if you’re the guy with the megaphone that sluices it’s Goebbels Greatest Hits via basic cable into 50 million homes, then, being ignored is the next best thing.
One after another, the Parade of Also-Rans on Fox seemed both endless and transparent. First it was Jeb. Then, after kicking some Orange Ass in a debate, it was (briefly) Carly Fiorina. Then –inextricably– was Gifted-Hands Carson. During the second week of October, The Good Doctor seemed to be the only guest on Hannity. Then Ben flamed out.
Well, the holidays rolled around, and we observed radio silence. When things reconvened in January, all of the polls said DONALD TRUMP WILL WIN IOWA, BIGLY! Oh, and TED CRUZ WILL LOSE TEXAS on Super Tuesday.
Well, as I said: Ailes couldn’t allow Ted any airtime –lest he actually win–, and when Senator Cruz DID win Iowa, it turned out that he didn’t actually WIN Iowa, because Marco Rubio came in –gasp– third. Third was the new Fox First.
So, it was Marco Rubio Twentyfourseven, and the next couple of weeks featured wall-to-freakin’ wall of Marco Rubio on Fox News. Sean Hannity was nearly orgasmic, panting breathlessly, “I just know you will be president someday, Senator Rubio! Your story is just so compelling!”… And, meanwhile, Cruz was neatly shuffled off Stage Right. His actual, historic win over his 16 competitors in Iowa might as well have happened in 1978, for all the boost it gave his campaign, thanks to the editorial decisions of Roger Ailes.
Then, Rubio flamed out spectacularly in the New Hampshire debate, when Crispy Creme got all up in his grill over what I’m still not certain. But, it made Marco look a bit, well, mannequin-esque, and Fox turned it’s soft-focus puff-piece machine on the porcine Governor. At least for a week or so. “I just can’t do the whole Marco thing anymore,” Ailes famously quipped. Still, he ignored the only real, principled constitutional conservative in the race.
But, damed if Cruz didn’t win Texas, and Oklahoma, to boot. Then, in rapid fashion, Kansas and Maine and Alaska fell for Cruz.
Cruz had to be stopped. So, Ailes pulled out the last bazooka in his armory to torpedo Cruz: Trump. After March 6th, Ailes turned his entire network, it’s hosts, it’s editorial decisions, everything, to Donald Trump. Trump drove ratings, and that’s all that mattered.
After the dust settled, the Media Research Center figured that Donald Trump had amassed nearly $2 BILLION in free over-the-air media. Ted Cruz? Not so much. About $120 million, or roughly 8% of Trump’s total.
Ted Cruz ran the most professional, most data-driven, most well-funded primary campaign for president, EVER. He built a donor base of nearly 800,000 individual contributors, along with a dedicated grass-roots army of volunteers that would make Barack Obama envious. The infrastructure, the Rolodex, the data, the micro-targeting, was, and remains, world-class.
The Cruz campaign was more nimble than any in history– and moved from one strategy to another, as events on the ground changed and morphed throughout the season. For a 44-year old man who’d never run a national campaign before, it was masterful.
When you consider that no one –and I mean NO ONE— in the pantheon of the conservative movement lifted a finger when Ted Cruz needed it most, it is phenomenal that the Senator got as far as he did. Not one major columnist came out for him early on, Rush Limbaugh ignored him in those early days after Trump sucked up all the oxygen. The Koch brothers sat in the dugout. Matt Drudge loathed Cruz’ traditional Christianity, and mocked and belittled it and him throughout the course of the campaign.
There were sickening canards left unchallenged by those that should have been Cruz’ natural allies: That he was “not likeable” (a cursory bit of investigation proved this laughable), that he was a liar, that he was wasn’t constitutionally eligible, are all damnable lies that should have been easily kicked to the curb last November by a Paul Ryan, or a Brett Baier, or a Bob Tyrell. Instead? Crickets; and mostly because the “conservative movement” has become something of a damp squib.
I DO hold out hope that the delegates can break the emergency glass, and toss Donald J. Trump in the Cleveland GOP Dumpster. Barring this only development that can save the Republic, I see little hope for the next half-decade..
The fact is: Ted Cruz ran a stellar campaign, which in normal, Trump-less times, he would have won walking away. He pitched a no-hitter– but, the reliever came in at the top of the ninth, and gave up The Long Ball.
Once again, the Republicans have seen fit to nominate an extremely liberal north-eastern patrician, big-government authoritarian multi-millionaire with high name recognition. Once again, events and the media conspired against the true conservative. Once again, the packed field was over-stuffed, and the conservative vote was splintered for too long on the primary calendar.
But: If there is an election in 2020 — a long way from now, and President Hillary Clinton will have plenty of time to burn America to the ground, and scatter the ashes, and spread lime on the open wounds, — we must break from this damnable pattern. Let’s start with nominating Senator Cruz– preferably by acclimation…