Good morning Austin:
Early last summer, in the first weeks of the Trump campaign, I did an interview with KURV 710 News Talk in the Rio Grande Valley in which, in an intemperate moment, I heard myself saying that Donald Trump was not going to be the Republican nominee for president because, after all, he was the candidate from Sodom.
It just seemed to me that the candidate of glitz and ego and casinos and tabloid divorces wasn’t going to be the choice of a party in which evangelical Christians played such a pivotal role.
Well, I was wrong. I think. He may well end up being the Republican nominee.
But, if he isn’t, that candidate from Sodom line may prove prescient, only with New York values a place holder for Sodom.
Or at least, that it is what Ted Cruz is banking on (and this is not a sly Goldman Sachs reference.).
Thursday night, it seemed to me – and this was a commonplace observation – that Trump got by far the better of the exchange about New York values, and that Cruz had set Trump up for the best, most presidential, moment of his campaign.
On Real Time with Bill Maher yesterday, Nicolle Wallace, White House communications director under George W. Bush, said ,of New York values, “I think they just became Donald Trump’s path to the nomination,” and that Trump’s compelling reply to Cruz “made it a lot easier for people to envision him as the Republican nominee.”
She was hardly alone.
And from Josh Marshall at the liberal Talking Points Memo:
In last night’s debate we saw the battle finally, fully joined. And while I’d never seen a smackdown quite on the scale of the one Trump used to crush Ted Cruz, I was surprised at how much day two energy the story had and how many surrogates the Cruz campaign was sending out to clean up the mess.
The Cruz camp seemed to realize that that exchange was highly damaging. In part it was damaging on the substance. 9/11 is the pulsing 50 million volt wire at the center of the gas-filled early 21st century GOP worldview. Once it’s invoked, everyone has to run for cover, bow down, run, clap. There’s no fighting it. And here Cruz walked right into it, totally unaware of what was coming. It was Cruz at his nastiest, smarmiest, callowest best. And BAM! He didn’t know what hit him.
But there’s another element to this beyond getting angled into insulting the city that endured the brunt of the 9/11 attacks. Always in Republican politics but especially in this cycle, much of the meta-messaging of the campaign is about dominating and being dominated. It is the central theme of Trump’s whole message and he has used his competitors as the canvas on which he paints the picture. Trump didn’t just catch Cruz out with 9/11, he crushed him. He dominated him. Completely. If you watch the video below (actually above here), you can see Cruz’s face start subtly to wilt as he sees what’s happening and is helpless to defend himself. And not half way into Trump’s assault Cruz starts clapping. Cheering the man who is in the midst of eviscerating him. That kind of weakness can’t go unanswered in the battle to be the nominee the Republican base is looking for. That’s why Cruz is running around so stung today.
Actually, the exchange ended with a little bit of a smirk from Cruz, which Jennifer Mercieca, a professor of communication at Texas A&M, notes is part of a champion college debater’s arsenal – selling to the debate judges that you won an exchange even if you didn’t.
But that smirk might have also been a genuine expression of his delight that Trump had just strode into this trap.
The fact is that Cruz, the consummate debater, pressed forward with the New York values issue against Trump at the debate, and even more furiously since the debate, because he thinks it helps him, particularly in Iowa, because it is predicated on Trump’s October 1999 appearance on Meet the Press, in which Trump explained what were then his liberal views on gay rights and abortion as follows:
I mean, hey, I lived in New York City and Manhattan all my life, OK? So, you know, my views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa perhaps …
In fact, Cruz went well beyond holding his tongue about Trump. At every turn, he praised Trump and persisted in praising Trump because, up until a week or two ago, that served his political interests.
If, as Starnes puts it – in that land New Yorkers like to call fly-over country – character counts. A man’s word matters – Cruz’s sudden turn on Trump, while tactically understandable, is hardly testament to his character.
What we are talking about here is situational ethics.
And, market-tested situational ethics.
And then there’s this.
From Saturday Night Live last night.
“SNL Ted Cruz”:
I think most people know exactly what New York values are, and, frankly, they are not the rest of the country’s values. Instead of celebrating Christmas, they celebrate a pagan holiday called Festivus. Instead of watching American football, they challenge each other to masturbation contests. In New York, people don’t say “hi” to their neighbors. they say, “Hello, Newman.”
“SNL Neil Cavuto”:
Sounds like you’re talking about the TV show, Seinfeld. Is that what you were talking about.
“SNL Ted Cruz”:
Believe me if I could say, liberal Jews, I would.
From Real Time:
Bill Maher: When they asked him at the debate, `what do you man by New York values?’ He said, “I think people here in South Carolina know what I mean,” and then he went on to say people in New York, they dominate the media and money. Who dominates, what ethnic group. I can’t put my finger on it. Is it the Armenians?
Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition: I don’t think that’s it at all
Maher: Is the Muslims? Who dominates the media and money? I’m wracking my brain?
Reed: Bill, pull out a calendar. It’s two weeks before the Iowa caucuses. They’re in a dog fight, and he was trying to say to people of faith in Iowa, I share your values.
As a native-born New York Jew (albeit from Long Island and not the city), I think what’s going on here is pretty evident.
From the Pew Research Center in July 2014:
Both Jews and Atheists Rate Evangelicals Negatively, but Evangelicals Rate Jews Highly
Attitudes among religious groups toward each other range from mutual regard to unrequited positive feelings to mutual coldness. Catholics and evangelicals, the two largest Christian groups measured here, generally view each other warmly. White evangelical Protestants give Catholics an average thermometer rating of 63; Catholics rate evangelicals at 57. Evangelicals also hold very positive views of Jews, with white evangelical Protestants giving Jews an average thermometer rating of 69. Only Jews themselves rate Jews more positively. But that warmth is not mutual: despite evangelicals’ warm feelings toward Jews, Jews tend to give evangelicals a much cooler rating (34 on average).
A lot of Jews suspect that what Christian conservatives love about them is not them personally, but the role Jews, and particularly the state of Israel, play, in the end times and the second coming of Christ, in which Jews won’t fare so well.
From Glenn Beck’s The Blaze last month:
A new survey found that the vast majority of evangelical Christians believe that violence across the Middle East “is a sign that the end times are nearer,” according to a new survey from the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings.
The study, titled, “American Attitudes Toward the Middle East and Israel,” found that 79 percent of evangelicals embraced this notion, with 43 percent of non-evangelical Christians agreeing.
Those same proportions among evangelicals were 12 percent and 81 percent, respectively.
The majority of Christians (55 percent) and evangelicals (75 percent) believe that things must happen concerning Israel before Jesus’ return — sentiment that is derived from Old and New Testament analysis. Probing deeper, the Center for Middle East Policy found that one of the key events would be the ability of Israel to include all of the land that was once promised to the Israelites in the Old Testament.
Overall, 51 percent of non-evangelical Christians and 63 percent of evangelicals said that they believe this is essential before the rapture or second coming could unfold, according to the survey results.
Also concerning Israel, 73 percent of evangelicals posited that the world would turn against Israel as the end times approaches; 49 percent of non-evangelical Christians agreed. That in mind, it isn’t surprising that evangelicals expressed views that were more favorable toward Israel.
Overall, 45 percent of Americans sampled said that they believe that the modern-day Jewish people are God’s “chosen people,” though 49 percent disagreed; 55 percent of Republicans answered affirmatively, with just 33 percent of Democrats saying the same.
I don’t mean to be harsh, but the Jews evangelical Christians love the most are those living in Israel who support Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, and not the one million Jews in New York City, who mostly vote Democratic (though the more conservative Orthodox Jewish population in New York is surging), and have a lot to do with the city’s liberal New York values.
In his set speech, Cruz asserts that, “If I am elected President, on my first day in office, I’ll begin the process of moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — the once and eternal capital of Israel.”
That promise has less to do with drawing the votes of American Jews than sending a signal to evangelical voters and funders.
Cruz expounded on Trump and New York values on Hannity.
‘Those aren’t Iowa values’ – and this is Donald Trump speaking. `Those aren’t Iowa values. That’s what New Yorkers believe and that’s why I believe it.” So Donald used that as an explanation for his own views. And you know what, he’s right. Those aren’t Iowa values. Those aren’t South Carolina values. They are not even New Hampshire values.
And, if you look at the media elite, if you look at the elite in New York who try to set the stage, and New York Daily News is a great example, you know where they ran another headline blasting me because i was lifting up the victims of violence in prayer and they find prayer offensive.
And that’s what people understand when you talk about – I’m reminded of the old Pace Picante commercial where they’re looking at some picante sauce and saying where was this made. New York City? Get a rope.
People understand elite, out-of-touch, media opinion.
The debate wasn’t the coolest part of this week.
I started by going duck hunting with Phil Robertson and the whole Duck Dynasty clan. Phil is an amazing shot. That man knows how to handle a shotgun.
And Phil ended up endorsing me, which was incredibly cool, and we ended up putting together this video of me with face paint and camo, and my girls, Caroline and Catherine, thought it was the funniest thing in the world to see daddy in face paint with Phil Robertson.
But you know what. That represents the working men and women, the backbone of this country. Those are who we are fighting for and if we get back to those values in that duck blind in Louisiana, that’s how we turn the country around.
Alrighty then. Cruz is fighting fire with fire, invoking his own reality TV star to defeat the reality TV star who he finds himself competing against.
Cruz, the reason we are going to vote for you, all of us, is because you’re one of us, my man.
When the story of the 2016 campaign is written, the Robertson endorsement and the attack on New York values at the South Carolina debate may be seen as breathtakingly brilliant, a trap that Trump, whose political instincts to now have been unerring, raced into.
FromNew York Times
Mixing folksy stories that illustrated his business acumen and chest-thumping promises to bring America back, Donald J. Trump spent more than 40 minutes drawing laughs and charming the crowd at a Tea Party convention in South Carolina on Saturday.
But at the end, there was just one person who was really on his mind: Senator Ted Cruz.
“You give a campaign contribution to Ted Cruz, you get whatever the heck you want,” Mr. Trump said.
Boos poured in from large sections of the crowd, which included many people who wore red shirts bearing Mr. Cruz’s campaign logo and had come to hear the Texas senator speak.
Raising his voice, Mr. Trump pressed on.
“He didn’t report his bank loans,” he said over the jeers. “Say whatever you want. He’s got bank loans from Goldman Sachs, he’s got bank loans from Citibank, and then he acts like Robin Hood.”
Be careful Donald. That last rap on Cruz is pretty close to the central theme of his campaign.
But the Cruz campaign’s presentation of Ted as “one of us,” and Trump as “one of them” is audacious, and not without risk.
Ted Cruz is pretty clever, but he walked right into that trap. All (Trump) had to say was, “You’re telling me who’s a real American? You’re from Canada and Cuba. You missed America twice.”
I am perfectly prepared to accept that Ted Cruz meets constitutional muster as a “natural born citizen,” of the United States, and is therefore qualified to serve as president.
But I don’t think he has any claim to being a natural-born Texan.
His ostrich-skin cowboy boots notwithstanding, he was born in and spent his first few years in Canada (see especially this story from Maclean’s), his mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware, and his father in Matanzas, Cuba. He went to Princeton and Harvard. He may have successfully inculcated Texas values, but the exoticism of his back story has more in common with Barack Obama (born in Hawaii of a Kansan mother and Kenyan father) than with LBJ.
Cruz’s Texan-ness may now be complete and sincere, but Trump seems determined, with his birther questions, to make the case that Cruz is ultimately, to borrow a term Stalin once applied most especially to Jews, a “rootless cosmopolitan.”
And does Cruz really have an adequate answer to this performance by the USA Freedom Kids of Freedom’s Call, the official Donald Trump campaign jam, at Trump”s big rally last week in Pensacola, Florida?
Cowardice, are you serious?
Apologies for freedom, I can’t handle this!
When freedom rings, answer the call!
On your feet, stand up tall!
Freedom’s on our shoulders, USA!
Enemies of freedom
Face the music, come on boys, take ’em down!
President Donald Trump knows how to make America great
Deal from strength or get crushed every time
We’re the land of the free and the home of the brave, USA!
The stars and stripes are flying
Let’s celebrate our freedom
Inspire proudly freedom to the world
American pride, USA!
It’s attitude, it’s who we are, stand up tall
We’re the red, white and blue
Fiercely free, that’s who!
Our colors don’t run, no sir-e