- By John Young Special to the American-Statesman
Let’s acknowledge that Sen. Ted Cruz got something right once upon a time.
It happened in 2016 — when he called then-presidential candidate Donald Trump a “pathological liar” and a “sniveling coward.”
Now? Cruz will hug him tightly to his chest in a few weeks when Trump comes to Texas in a bid to save Cruz’s Senate seat.
This should be fun. The sniveling. The lying. The heebie-jeebies in static shockwaves between two who give each other the creeps.
The thing is, after that rally, after Ted bathes himself in hand sanitizer after embracing a man who called him “lying Ted” and alleged that his father helped kill JFK, Cruz is going to find out it didn’t help him at all.
Donald Trump is not a winning proposition in 2018. Even if one assumes he is going to inspire his “base” to vote, those hard-core voters were going to do it, anyway. What Trump is not going to do is inspire independent voters to drink his red Kool-Aid again or elect people who act like he does and who support his policies.
And yet, in race after race, Republicans have nominated candidates who are the Trump-iest in the field. We get it. The “base” wants more of that belligerent, divisive, truth-be-damned style.
They don’t understand: “Like Trump” is no formula for victory this fall. Just the opposite.
It’s stunning to see a major party glom frantically onto an individual who, according to the latest Washington Post poll, 60 percent of Americans view unfavorably.
That tracks other polls. At this writing, the cumulative polling by Fivethirtyeight.com shows Trump’s unfavorable rating at 54.5 percent compared to 40.3 percent approving — the grimmest indicator in months for the tweeter-in-chief.
For many weeks the two lines on Fivethirtyeight’s graph remained relatively stable and just about 10 points apart. That was plenty enough. What changed? It appears the president’s unfavorable rating shot up just about when Sen. John McCain died, and Trump acted like an ogre.
At the first of the memorial services for McCain, an emotional Joe Biden used words one knew would get Trump’s goat. Of McCain, he used the word “decency” four times and “dignity” six times.
Talk about affronting Trump’s loyalists, who proclaim: “We don’t need no stinking decency. We need ruthlessness, coarseness and petty personal attacks in the wee hours.”
Biden might offer Americans a different flavor in 2020.
Next came the service at the National Cathedral with a bipartisan throng that applauded Meghan McCain’s memorable “America was already great,” preceded by her reference to “cheap rhetoric” aimed at her POW father by an individual for whom sacrifice meant having to shed shoes for the podiatrist.
The New York Times reported it, and no one could deny it: “For years Mr. Trump mocked and condemned the Arizona senator. In death, Mr. McCain found the way to have the last word.”
I know. Fake news.
Now, Arizona has buried him, and Arizonans consider who will represent them in the Senate for the seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake.
Arizona Republicans just chose from three candidates who, as in so many GOP primaries, pulled an acrobatic Cirque du Soleil act to prove which was the Trump-iest. Is this really an asset in the general election for the GOP nominee, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally? Hardly – especially since she is facing a strong, serious, seasoned Democrat in U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.
Could a Democrat taking that Senate seat in revulsion against Trump be the last word?
I’m thinking not. That very well could come in 2020. Imagine: Centrists and independents join Democrats in Arizona to award that state’s 11 electoral votes to a Democrat, and with it Trump’s removal.
Then again, with Trump’s low regard among increasingly exasperated voters, this presidency will be over long before Arizona’s time zone reports.