Here’s a tough question: Who is worse, Trump or Cruz?


We are at the stage where the two leading Republicans are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz who lead the polls but also have high negatives. If these two are the only ones left standing after the early primaries, then party members, especially those in the establishment, will be forced to choose between two candidates they detest. The New York Times, as befits a paper that serves as the mouthpiece for the establishment, has editorially slammed both of them and endorsed John Kasich (and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side), not that the Republican party base will care what the paper thinks and will actually see it as an endorsement of Trump and Cruz.

rethinking trump

Jordan Klepper and Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show debate as to which one is worse and find it to be a very tough call.

(This clip aired on January 28, 2016. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Nightly Show outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)

Comments

  1. DonDueed says

    Not even close. Trump in a heartbeat, bozo though he may be. Cruz is a true Dominionist.

    Of course, if either of them gets elected I’d seriously consider getting out of the US for good.

  2. lorn says

    I think Cruz is far worse, in part because he is a theocrat of the Dominionist bent with a huge ego, a self-assumed right to rule, and both a willingness and talent for lying and otherwise positioning himself as needed to meet any moment and make himself look like the slightly more acceptable option. And he does it all without feeling any discomfort or guilt. I feel like Brin is right when he said that Cruz is shooting for the presidency by way of a long game and a term as vice-president. This how Nixon did it. Worming himself into striking distance and then calling in all the favors owed him by people who loath his existence.

    Trump is, IMHO, less of a threat. First, he is unlikely to make it far enough to close the deal on the presidency. This isn’t so much based on the idea that the GOP core will wake up, I suspect it won’t, but rather because he is a one trick pony. He only has one gear, the bitch-slap game of dominance. :

    http://www.vox.com/2016/1/30/10873476/donald-trump-never-president

    Even as president I suspect he could be isolated and surrounded by yes-men who will artfully distract him away from disastrous actions while placating his overinflated ego with symbolic gestures.

    A Trump presidency would be a waste of time, effort and resources, but survivable. A Cruz presidency, with a GOP dominated House and functional rump in the Senate could push us right off the edge toward corporatist theocracy with feudal overtones.

  3. StevoR says

    See :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2016/01/31/how-the-views-of-sanders-and-trump-have-evolved-over-time/#comment-4328959

    Cruz is worse than Trump – and the anti-Trump ad in that linked thread showing where he started from has just convinced me of that.

    Both would be utter disasters as POTUS for the whole planet really and neither man is fit to hold high office though. None of the current crop of Republicans should be elected and all of them are terrible candidates and choices pretty much because they are Republicans because of what the Republican parties policies and mindset has sadly degenerated into over the past few decades.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    @lorn, 3:

    [Trump] is unlikely to make it far enough to close the deal on the presidency

    Interesting you should phrase it like that – “close the deal”. So far, Trump’s “one trick” is to confound all the pundits who never thought he’d make it this far. And the [sexist-language] game of dominance is unsuitable for later stages in the election because…?

    Note: already in just this thread, three out of the four posts so far express a preference, and in every case it’s for Trump. As the lesser of two weevils, true – but he’s got you.

  5. Nick Gotts says

    A Trump presidency would be a waste of time, effort and resources, but survivable. – lorn@3

    What I think this overlooks is that the POTUS has control of enough thermonuclear weapons to bring an end to civilization, and possibly to human life. Cruz is a vile individual, but his is a cold, calculating vileness. He’s unlikely to launch a war on a whim, and indeed his foreign policy stances tend towards isolationism – he’s expressed himself as very much against involving American troops in Syria, for example. His war will be against internal enemies – dreadful indeed, but for the world at large, survivable. Trump, OTOH, is not only a malignant narcissist, but emotionally labile, and extremely touchy personally: a perceived insult or humiliation from Putin, Xi, Khamenei or whoever could in my judgement lead him to use nuclear weapons, with apocalyptic results.

  6. John Morales says

    Nick Gotts, ahem. I’m pretty sure that there are checks and balances, even with a loony POTUS in charge.

    (They’re not old-fashioned monarchs, are they?)

  7. DonDueed says

    Another point: I may be foolishly optimistic, but I doubt that Trump’s choices for SCOTUS nominations would be anywhere near as disastrous as those of a Cruz presidency.

  8. sonofrojblake says

    @ Nick Gotts, 6:

    [Cruz’s] is a cold, calculating vileness

    Whereas you STILL characterise Trump as effectively an emotional toddler – even as he spends six months dismantling the Republican party, Fox News and all his opponents in the teeth of every pundit calling him a clown. Just how cold, calculating and actually successful does he have to be before you acknowledge that he’s doing it on purpose, to a plan? (I suspect that even if/when he wins the election in a landslide you’ll still attribute it to luck).

    Nice to see people already rationalising the bright side of a Trump election victory… remember, he’s not even won the NOMINATION yet, much less the election.

  9. DonDueed says

    sonofrojblake, isn’t that the entire point of this thread? The issue is which of the two we think would be worse as President.

  10. sonofrojblake says

    Actually, if you read the OP, the issue is which of the two the Republican party itself would detest least. Which is a way more interesting question. Ultimately, what we – a bunch of lefties who can be relied upon to hate anything under an elephant logo – think is neither here nor there, and never has been in any competition of this kind. Our views, with the best will in the world, are dull to the point of complete irrelevance.

    What makes this election cycle unique is that the GOP machine has apparently broken down and the end result is a system where it seems possibly a majority of Republicans are going to have to hold their noses to vote with their own party. That’s fascinating.

  11. lorn says

    The good news on the thermonuclear front is that launching missiles is more complicated than simply pushing a button. Contrary to popular belief there are people around any president who are close enough to say no and resist long enough for the adults in the room to act. There are enough humans in the process to avoid easy release. That is one of the points about having a “football” instead of a large red button on the oval office desk. As ego-maniacal as Trump may be he is clearly not suicidal. Besides, a nuclear war, even a small one with the mushrooms clouds colored gold and spelling out TRUMP, is going to cause the stock market to tank and the Donald loses all his money.

    Second, the point of bitch-slap politics, despite the implied violence of the name, is to avoid getting punched by ending the contest early. The reason Trump is making such a big thing over Megan Kelly, as awful a human being stuffed into a pretty package as there ever was, is that she confronted The Donald, took the return fire, and came back for more. In effect shaming Trump and showing that his punch-back is, while shocking in the context of menstrual blood being evoked on national TV, is weak and ineffectual to anyone not particularly frightened by lady parts or blood. The primary effect was that Trump identified the limits of his own intestinal fortitude.

    As referenced in the article cited Trump only has two responses: Bitch-slap politics, or run away. Megan Kelly, bless her evil little heart, played bitch-slap with trump, tweaked his nose, took the biggest slap Trump could muster, and didn’t run away. She didn’t fold or run, so Trump did.

    That is the problem with dominance games. You are either on top, and master of all before you, or you are not. Any resistance that fails to fold, that persists and remains vocal, that is neither suppressed or bought out, is proof that the king is not sovereign. As soon as the underlings figure out that they can stand up to the king, and survive his wrath, the illusion fails, and the game is over.

    Trump is nearly perfect for dominating the GOP. The GOP image is all about front-loaded assertions of seriousness, practicality and hard nosed people making the tough choices about direct action, eating what they kill, and toughing it out. The fact is that Republicans are mostly cowards and wimps. They love the idea of a good fight, physical, militarily, or political, but they don’t really have the heart for it and will, when push comes to shove, cheat, whine to the judges, or run away.

    It wasn’t always this way. There was Eisenhower. He had fought wars and seen the price. His demeanor was the exact opposite of the present day Republican. He was quiet, unassuming, but with a commanding presence and dignity. He was capable of taking a punch and striking back but aggression, contrary to assumptions about what the military is about, wasn’t his first option. He knew that any ground you advance over may require defending. He assiduously stayed out of Vietnam as France was fighting there.

    No, todays GOP is all about posturing and bluster, and being seen, and known for, ‘doing something’ and protecting the appearance of dominance. In boxing it is called ‘leading with your jaw’. It makes you look proud and tough, as long as nobody lands a punch. Trump has a glass jaw, he can’t take a punch. His running from the debate after facing off with Megan Kelly shows that. That fact hasn’t sunk in to the electorate so much, Trump has but a bright gloss on it, but they will. People have noticed and others will be following the example.

    Hillary, on the other hand, has taken every punch the right could throw at her. The GOP is pretty much tired of punching at her, it does no good. They can take it. Even the press are tired of Clinton derangement syndrome.

  12. sonofrojblake says

    Trump “ran away” and made the resulting debate look pointless without the frontrunner, leaving positions 2 & 3 as the targets for the moderators and to take lumps out of each other to his advantage. And he took the moral high ground by hosting a charity event.

    That fact hasn’t sunk in to the electorate so much

    Funny, that.

    The GOP is pretty much tired of punching at her

    That’s perhaps partly because they’ve spent half their time trying to punch guys on their own side.

    Meanwhile Trump has barely started… all his considerable energies have so far been concentrated on Bush, Fiorina, Carson, Rubio and Cruz, each one dismantled in turn. Once they’re all disposed of, do think he’s ever going to get “tired” of punching at Clinton? (Or Sanders, if applicable?) Does he look like a guy who gets tired? From where I’m sitting since July he looks more like the Energiser bunny.

  13. tkreacher says

    Actually, the literal title of the post is, “Here’s a tough question: Who is worse, Trump or Cruise?”. The question is literally in the title of the post, so implying that people discussing the question means they don’t get the point or something, is silly.

  14. deepak shetty says

    Not tough at all – There is nothing Trump can say/do that I’d be particularly surprised if Cruz said/did. But in addition Cruz is a theocrat. There is still a chance that Trump will deal and switch some positions – none with Cruz.

  15. sonofrojblake says

    @tkreacher, 14:

    Yes, that is the literal title of the post. Pop quiz: to whom is that question addressed? A child, or perhaps a rampant egotist, would default to “well, me of course! Who else’s answer is of any possible interest?”.

    A cursory reading of the text below – if you get as far as, say, the second sentence – reveals that this is about the Republican Party facing a choice between two candidates, neither of whom they want. Another clue, if you need it, is the little elephant in the cartoon – that’s supposed to be the Republican Party, because, y’know, elephant logo. It’s not a complicated concept, once you past the idea that you and your opinions are the centre of the universe. The whole point here is not our tired, predictable responses from the left, it’s the spectacle of the right tying itself in knots. Look up from your navel and enjoy the show.

  16. Reginald Selkirk says

    lorn #12: The good news on the thermonuclear front is that launching missiles is more complicated than simply pushing a button. Contrary to popular belief there are people around any president who are close enough to say no and resist long enough for the adults in the room to act.

    “Adults in the room”? You mean like cabinet members? Or Defense Secretary? All appointed by POTUS.

  17. mnb0 says

    @5: “already in just this thread, three out of the four posts so far express a preference, and in every case it’s for Trump.”
    Only as long as Trump leads. As soon as Cruz takes the lead he’s the worst. And I see this sentiment reflected in other
    comments as well.

    @10: “The issue is which of the two we think would be worse as President.”
    Same principle – the one that would get elected.

  18. springa73 says

    I don’t know which one the Republican establishment thinks is worse – Trump is even more of an outsider, but from what I’ve heard pretty much all the Republicans who have worked with Cruz strongly dislike him. Personally, they both really scare me, but Cruz probably scares me a little more because of his “I know exactly what God wants” attitude. To me, that seems even more worrying than Trump’s populism.

    As a nominee against either Democratic candidate, I don’t know which one would be stronger. Trump galvanizes lots of people who aren’t normally very active politically, but he may also alienate lots of more traditional Republicans. Cruz will bring out the conservative Christian vote, but his ultra-religious stance may also alienate a lot of conservatives and moderates who aren’t as religious. It’s kind of a toss-up.

    That either one of them is as popular as they are is a sign of how strong and angry the right has become in this country. I’m probably a little different from most commenters on this blog and other free thought blogs in that I used to be at least moderately right wing, but I would not have expected that the Republican party would move so far to the right.

  19. tkreacher says

    sonofrojblake #16

    Let me take a quick stab at fixing you.

    Discussing the question in the title of the post != not understanding or missing the point of the post. Even discussing the question in the title of the post and not discussing the point of the post != not understanding or missing the point of post.

    Hopefully this very simple bit of logic isn’t too convoluted for you to grasp, though I suspect you’re more interested in pretending to be the most rational person in the room than actually learning something and correcting an error in your thinking.

  20. Nick Gotts says

    sonofrojblake@9,

    Whereas you STILL characterise Trump as effectively an emotional toddler

    That’s quite unfair – I wouldn’t insult toddlers in that way! I wonder if you’ve seen the documentary You’ve Been Trumped, which chronicles Trump’s behaviour over a golf course he had built in Aberdeenshire, Scotland? It’s very revealing, particularly the vindictive and insulting way he treated householders who were unwilling to sell him their homes: cutting off their services, calling them “pigs”, sending his goons to harass them. I’ve not dismissed his political skills, or the possibility of him winning the nomination or the election – indeed I’ve been warning repeatedly against the complacency of those who assume he can’t – but that does not mean he is anything better than a malignant narcissist who has struck lucky (although he certainly deserves credit for seeing his opportunity): a country in which large sections of the population are seeking scapegoats, and a Republican Party where the party establishment of oligarchs finds the Frankenstein’s monster it created turning on its creator.

    lorn@12,

    The good news on the thermonuclear front is that launching missiles is more complicated than simply pushing a button. Contrary to popular belief there are people around any president who are close enough to say no and resist long enough for the adults in the room to act. There are enough humans in the process to avoid easy release. That is one of the points about having a “football” instead of a large red button on the oval office desk. As ego-maniacal as Trump may be he is clearly not suicidal.

    There’s certainly something in what you say – but what sort of people would President Trump surround himself with? Would they be the kind of people able and willing to stand up to him? As for the military – they are trained to obey orders. How confident can we be that those with a role in the actual launch would have the moral courage to say no to the C-in-C? I don’t actually envisage Trump launching a first strike just because Putin calls him a girly man, but if he felt Putin had humiliated him in the context of an international crisis (which could itself result from a perceived insult, with Trump and Putin each escalating to avoid loss of face), I think it’s alarmingly plausible. As you say, he is not suicidal – but I think he is quite capable of thinking he, personally, would survive – and indeed, he would certainly make sure he was somewhere unlikely to be hit in any retaliatory strike.

    sonofrojblake@16,
    Mano can correct me, but it appears to me that the question is aimed at both the Republican Party establishment and at us. But you seem to have an odd compulsion to insult everyone who doesn’t share your opinion that Trump is a supergenius.

    Look up from your navel and enjoy the show.

    What a very mature, responsible reaction to the demonstration that a considerable proportion of the American people are ready to vote for such scumbags as Trump and Cruz (and for that matter, Rubio, who seems destined to become the party establishment’s preferred candidate after nearly beating Trump into third place in Iowa). (And although it would be a huge upset if Trump failed to win by a big margin in New Hampshire, the Iowa result, against the predictions of the polls, is certainly a considerable setback to his campaign.)

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