I recall an unparalleled level of hatred expressed by the GOP elites toward Ted Cruz when he was standing firm in the Senate. I’m sure you do, too. Of course, I admired what Cruz was doing at the time. But the hatred was so strong and the media attacks so ferocious in the way they isolated Cruz that I actually told someone I hoped Cruz wouldn’t run for president.
My concern was that another round of Palinization or Bachmanization would occur. That is, the media and/or the GOP elite would so focus their attacks on a Cruz presidential campaign that no level of conservative grassroots support could overcome it. Cruz would be made to look so fringe – so “extremely right wing” by the narrative builders that we’d loose another conservative candidacy.
Well, Cruz began to build his campaign early and did everything right. He quietly built support amongst the grassroots activists early on. I believe that the attacks I just described were eminent – except something unexpected happened: Donald J. Trump.
Trump’s immigration remarks, his comments about Islam, his “yuuge” crowds and his mastery of earned media coverage changed the whole calculus. The media masters and their GOP elite buddies were distracted from Cruz. Cruz allowed Trump to do this to some extent by letting Trump get the attention and by not attacking him. Agree or disagree with this strategy, Trump has taken the mantle of “fringe candidate” in the media narrative to a large extent. This was sure to be Cruz’s place had Trump not taken it. Trump has been immune to the affects, to a large extent, but his actual record is giving voters pause as we see late deciders vote against Trump.
Now that we have a winnowed field to (nearly) 2 candidates. We are beginning to see the impossible. And the improbable. Former adversaries of Cruz are endorsing him as the alternative to the insane Donald J. Trump. Can you imagine another scenario where Lindsey Graham endorses Senator Ted Cruz for President? Can you imagine another scenario where the media narrative during the primary could possibly have Ted Cruz as the reasonable candidate? If you can, I want what you’re smoking.
There is still (barely) time for the most epic give-and-go move in the history of politics to occur. (Why the give-and-go comparison? March Madness, baby!) Here’s what I mean, the fringe label was passed from Trump to Cruz. With everyone’s eyes off Cruz, he may be able to make a break for the basket. If he begins to surpass Trump now that the vote is consolidated, he will get the label back. But it may be too late to stop him from scoring the ultimate goal. We could see an unwitting Trump give the ultimate cover to the best candidate in years.
With Rubio waiting one week too long to drop out and many drinking the Trump Kool-Aide (oh, and Kasich) the play may not unfold. However, I’m holding out hope that America has not decayed so far it would choose Trump.