As usual, something Donald Trump isn’t doing is dominating the news cycle. His decision to skip tonight’s debate is all the rage right now, but the handwriting was on the wall soon after the January 14th debate when he started to make noise against Megyn Kelly being a moderator in tonight’s debate.
Apparently, Trump still holds a grudge against Kelly for a question she asked in the August 2015 debate using his own words. Some viewed the question as unfair, including Trump. But, Trump would be naive to believe that Clinton would not use an identical question against him in a general election campaign. Isn’t it better to air this in August 2015 rather than October 2016? Trump’s follow-up reaction and comments did not help his cause.
But, this is old news that simmered into the current cycle. What truly irked Trump was not Kelly’s presence as a moderator, but Fox’s refusal to back down. They stood up to the bully especially in light of the veiled threats. After the Manchester Union endorsed Christie, they were removed as a debate co-sponsor. After the National Review published their anti-Trump edition, they too were removed as a co-sponsor. In both cases, the RNC succumbed to pressure from the Trump camp. One supposes they did so to appease him in the interest of “fairness.” But the more probable motivation for the appeasement was a veneer of fairness fearing an independent run by Trump. Note: although Trump “promised” to support the eventual GOP nominee, one should not believe him; just ask any of his creditors.
Some have characterized this as a brilliant move by Trump which sets up an excuse should the unthinkable happen- he loses Iowa. This way, the theory goes, he could always blame a biased media for it. Instead of handling it in this fashion, perhaps he should have walked into the lion’s den and used it to his advantage as Cruz did with that debacle of debate CNBC held. This was not a well-planned strategy by Trump. This was the action of a petulant kindergarten-age child who did not get their way on the playground. So let us dispense with talk of Trump’s strategic brilliance.
With former backers like Limbaugh and Levin now criticizing him, the screws tighten a little. Consider Trump’s recent endorsements. They are a has-been ex-Alaska Governor who could not finish a full term who delivered a rousing, rhyming embarrassing-to-humanity “speech” in his favor- fodder for comedians for years to come. That was followed by an endorsement by a bigoted, illiterate South Carolina politician. And Jerry Falwell, Jr. However, other evangelical leaders are now encouraging the opposite. National Right to Life and other pro-life groups came out against Trump.
A true conservative and rising star in the GOP- Ben Sasse- has been urging the “anything but Trump” mantra without specifically endorsing anyone, as has Joni Ernst. Conservative members of the House are aligning behind anyone but Trump. And Trump’s response to Cruz’ challenge of a one-on-one debate is that petulant child running away yet again.
As for Trump’s alternate event- a fundraiser for wounded veterans- we are not sure of what CNN will do. There are conflicting reports that they will carry it live. That came from Ann Coulter in the afternoon, but later Chris Ariens reported that CNN does not intend to alter their regular programming. We’ll have to see, but one suspects that if they do carry the event, it will cut into Fox’s ratings as those who rubberneck to see car accidents and the Trumpettes (usually one and the same) will tune into CNN.
Regardless, one group- the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America- have stated they will not accept any donations from the event, nor will they be used as a political prop in Trump’s hissy fit against Fox. One wonders how Trump will react on Twitter.
Trump’s action is also hypocritical. Four years ago, he criticized Michelle Bachmann for dropping out of a debate. He called her “disloyal.” But such rules don’t apply to him apparently. Perhaps Rand Paul has the best snarky line about Trump’s action suggesting that by his absence, the average IQ of those on-stage will be higher. Not being a Paul supporter, this writer has to give him a few points on this one.
But, it was probably Molly Hemingway in The Federalist who said it best:
Or is Trump’s boycott far more akin to Barack Obama’s (also inconsistent) boycott of Fox News? There are many ways Obama and Trump are similar, from stoking the insecurity of their base voters to getting publicity for not really doing anything, from citing credentials instead of accomplishments to bragging too much. They both seem to love authoritarian use of executive power and surrounding themselves with sycophants.
One can only hope and pray the good folks of Iowa see through Trump’s childish antics come Monday night.