Who would be better to lose, Trump or Cruz?


Tomorrow is the Indiana primary. On the Republican side, the conventional wisdom is that Ted Cruz has to win the primary if he has any chance of stopping Donald Trump from winning a majority of delegates before the convention. Cruz’s Hail Carly pass of naming Fiorina as his running mate is an indication of his desperation. But even if he loses, I do not expect him to concede the race. He will continue to run, hoping to chip away delegates here and there and that somehow a miracle happens and a contested convention turns to him as the savior

If we stipulate that the Republican nominee will be either Trump or Cruz and that either of them will lose to the Democratic candidate, which case would be better for those of us who dislike the Republican brand?

I tend to think that it would be better for Cruz to win the nomination and lose the general election. The reason is that the Cruz-Fiorina ticket is the extreme conservative’s dream ticket. They check off all the boxes on everything that is the worst about the party: climate change denialism, anti-choice, anti-Obamacare, anti-poor, anti-LGBT, pro-oligarchy, Bible thumping, flag waving, the whole list. And they do it in the most in-your-face and obnoxious way possible, and the rabid right-wingers will love it and that will make a defeat, especially a resounding one, hard for them to swallow.

My local newspaper the Plain Dealer has someone named Kevin O’Brien as the deputy editorial page editor and his opinion pieces read almost as a caricature of extreme right wing conservative views to the extent that I sometimes wonder if he is a real person or an elaborate prank pulled by the newspaper. He regards Trump with contempt and thinks he is “supremely ill suited” and describes his supporters as the “Blindly Angry Caucus” that “turned out to be bigger and less interested in facts or policy than anyone realized”.

O’Brien is quite giddy with delight at the prospect of a Cruz-Fiorina ticket. This is what he says about her, that “She is wise, quick-witted, great at a podium and, above all else, conservative” and “She is informed, fluent on seemingly every issue of importance, certain of where she stands and adept at articulating the principles that motivate her.” Of course what he and his fellow conservatives also like about her is that she is a woman because they think that if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, Fiorina will be able to viciously attack her without being seen as sexist and demeaning women, though of course being a women does not give you immunity from those charges. Here’s O’Brien:

She is the most fearsome weapon in the Republican arsenal against Hillary Clinton — the political equivalent of castor oil for Democrats, who haven’t shown much in the way of eagerness to take their medicine. Deny Clinton the opportunity to go into full feminist us-vs.-them mode and what does she have? A few decades spent defusing Bill’s ”bimbo eruptions” and a few years fouling up at the State Department and trying to cover her tracks.

Fiorina can go there unlike any male Republican, and she’s spoiling for that very fight. Expect red meat for Republicans and red faces all around for Democrats.

The problem with Trump as the nominee is that if he loses, the extreme right-wingers will put the blame, not on their message being rejected, but on Trump not being a ‘true conservative’ or ‘not conservative enough’, the same thing they said about John McCain and Mitt Romney. A Trump defeat may actually result in energizing them even more to see that it does not happen again and we could well see Cruz being the nominee in 2020. With Cruz-Fiorina, they have what they always dreamed of and a defeat, especially a massive one, would be an undisputed repudiation of everything they stand for and give them little room for excuses.

While I expect Cruz-Fiorina to lose, they will not lose big because their stances on the issues are well within the Republican mainstream and all those who voted for McCain and Romney in the past will have little trouble voting for them this time. While people like me find both their personalities grating, the party faithful will likely love the red meat rhetoric they will feed them. But I simply cannot see them winning over those who did not vote Republican in the previous elections and this is what they need to do to win.

The catch about Trump is that he is a wild card. He is truly sui generis, a once in a lifetime political phenomenon, a rare combination of wealth and flamboyant showmanship and populist instincts that appeared at just the time when people are deeply disaffected by the political system as a whole. He could lose big, really big. But there is also the chance that his candidacy will catch fire with enough people who are disaffected with the two political parties and that he could actually win by creating new alliances that span the traditional fissues.

Trump has got this far defying the predictions of mainstream pundits and it would be dangerous to keep underestimating him.

Comments

  1. brucegee1962 says

    I wish I could be as sanguine as you are about the inevitable defeat of a Republican candidate. While I’m sure Hillary will make a fine president, there are still too many nerve-wracking things about her candidacy that will keep me biting my nails until November — the FBI investigation, her husbands’ affairs, ‘associates’ with their hands in the cookie jar, etc.

    I’m hoping Cruz wins Indiana, because it makes a contested convention more likely. Aside from its undoubted entertainment factor, that would surely cause any nominee emerging from the fight to be bloodier and less supported.

    As for which of them would be better, it’s one of those Zobmondo “Would you rather eat cockroaches or vomit” types of questions — there really isn’t much point.

  2. Who Cares says

    I can see why Cruz would be a good option to bring a defeat to the fanatics that said Trump might end up fracturing the party before the election.
    Finally as a person not in the US I’d say Trump is better on the chance that he actually manages to beat Hillary. Granted that that is based on his attitude that seems to be that the U.S. should go back to isolationism and stop being the policeman of the world. Should have seen the hit piece on him on the European site of Politico when that came out.

  3. says

    The joke is that you think it matters who wins.

    The Corporations will remain in control no matter what.

    We are enslaved and are going to stay that way.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    Who Cares @ # 2: … his attitude that seems to be that the U.S. should go back to isolationism and stop being the policeman of the world.

    You’d rather see the US as the extortionist of the world?

    Trump is proposing making aggressive new demands of virtually every country in the world – whether that’s countries in Europe (who are part of NATO), China, Japan, Mexico, Russia or in less high profile ways virtually every other country in the world. … This is precisely the same policy, posture and strategy Trump brings to America itself: white identity politics aimed at taking back what other rising or new groups in American society have taken away from the guys who used to be at the top of the heap.

    As for what may come out of the Cleveland catastrophe convention – who would do the most damage to the “downticket” Repub candidates?

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    Fiorina can go there unlike any male Republican, and she’s spoiling for that very fight. Expect red meat for Republicans and red faces all around for Democrats….

    And demon sheep!

  6. says

    Back during the Romney/Obama race, I wound up in the back of a limo for a long ride with a republican political operative (think: low on the totem pole of campaign managers) and it was surreal. Common sense said that Romney was unpopular, pushing unpopular causes and lies – going up against an orator who was much smoother and was far more aligned with popular opinion – he was going to get clobbered. But the whole time the republican was talking about all the stuff president Romney was going to do, and how the election was going to put an imprimatur (yeah: “fuck this”) on the republican agenda. It was surreal. It was like this person was living on another planet, or was role-playing or acting in stage persona. I finally realized that they had assumed that I agreed, because I hadn’t been saying anything. Mostly I was just cringing inside. So I asked her, deadpan, “how can you be a woman and a republican?” That was fun. After that they switched to lecturing me about the political flaws of liberals. It was baffling. I’m sure that wherever they are right now they are looking forward with anticipation to Cruz’ resounding victory.
    Surreal.

  7. Who Cares says

    @Pierce R. Butler(#4):
    If I’d have a choice it’d be Sanders. The least insane of the bunch when it comes to international politics.
    After that Trump then Clinton
    Clinton last seeing that she is in the camp that supports intervention in every place imaginable. For example if she and Kerry would have gotten their way there would have been an U.S. army intervention in Syria after the fanatics gassed their own territory.

  8. busterggi says

    Silly fellow! If Cruz and Fioina win not only the nomination but the election and run the country into the ground, as Repubs are prone to do, the party loyalists will only say it was because they weren’t conservative enough.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    Who Cares @ # 7: Clinton … is in the camp that supports intervention in every place imaginable.

    I notice you omit Cruz from your roster: he seems not to recognize the concept of allies, which (however one-sidedly) Clinton does.

    We agree that Clinton’s chronic belligerence poses a major threat, but I think that, unlike Trump, she might at least pause to ponder gains and losses before launching attacks.

    In any foreseeable Sanders-less case, all of y’all in non-USAstan have serious grounds for concern too.

  10. Holms says

    I’m of the opinion that the best course of events would be a convention in which Trump does not have the plurality required for an uncontested nomination, followed by the party establishment doing all they can to screw him. This would then outrage a large number of their usually reliable base, causing disenfranchisement and a fractured vote. My impression is that this is the only way in which Clinton could win.

    And sadly, it seems Clinton’s recent gains have all but given her a lock on the Democrat nomination; Sanders was the only real chance at having any progress at all. The only candidate that has been pushing progressive social policies all career – Clinton’s recent switch on progressive issues being very obviously opportunistic in nature – and also drastically less belligerent than the rest of the field.

    Sadly though, America looks set for a Trump-Clinton showdown, and while I have no idea who will win, I know both are terrible options.

  11. Who Cares says

    @Pierce R. Butler(#9):
    I left out Cruz since I’ve got this gut feeling that him being the republican candidate will only result in the scenario that Mr. Singham outlined. To many of the people who a swing voters would gravitate to Clinton as the least/non evil choice.

  12. sonofrojblake says

    Fiorina is “certain of where she stands”? http://video.foxnews.com/v/4874827864001/carly-fiorina-falls-off-stage-at-ted-cruz-rally/?#sp=show-clips

    Also: “Fiorina can go there unlike any male Republican” – whoever wrote that hasn’t listened to a single word Trump has said since July. The obliviousness, the wilful ignorance is astounding.

    While I expect Cruz-Fiorina to lose, they will not lose big

    Didn’t you get the memo? They already lost big. They have no chance of securing the nomination ahead of the convention. Their best and only chance is a contested convention, and there is no certainty at all that Lyin’ Ted will secure the nomination under those circumstances – it’s no secret the party hierarchy hate him almost as much as they hate Trump.

    Trump has got this far defying the predictions of mainstream pundits and it would be dangerous to keep underestimating him.

    And yet, people are still churning out blog posts along the lines of “wouldn’t it be great if Cruz got the nomination and then lost the election?”. Whistling in the dark.

  13. sonofrojblake says

    @Marcus Ranum, 6:
    That level of self-delusion (about Romney vs. Obama) is what I see, from thousands of miles away, when I look at what liberals have been saying about Hillary. It’s just a given among liberals that obviously she’s going to win – I mean, who would vote for Bush, I mean, Carson, er… Cruz? Even now, liberals right here on FtB are saying things like “y’know maybe we shouldn’t underestimate Trump”. To which the only possible response at this stage is “duh”. The Daily Mail (spit) website is reporting today that Trump has overtaking Clinton in national polling for the first time. People are still making reference to “common sense”, as though that’s still a thing in a world where Trump’s campaign wasn’t stopped or even slowed down by him suggesting punishing women who have illegal abortions.

    Regarding your “gotcha” question: how can you be a man and vote for Hillary?

    To you, I’m guessing that’s not a “gotcha” question, because you have what you regard as perfectly sound reasons. And your republican acquaintance had reasons just as sound, I’ll bet, and would be equally baffled at whatever you came up with in response to that.

  14. sonofrojblake says

    I noticed Donald Trump has put out a new ad to help gain support. It uses the well-known sales tactic of getting you to “think past the sale” – it’s strongly visual, showing him on Air Force One, in a motorcade, at a podium with the Presidential Seal and so on. Subtitles aside (and who reads those damn things?), it’s a pure puff piece.

    It shows a good deal of hubris, obviously, for him to make the assumption that he’s going to win, but the idea is to put the image of him AS PRESIDENT in the minds of the public, so that they kind of already think of him that way come election time – he’s trying to run as an incumbent. It’s a cunning tactic, and if you ever did any sales training or had a car salesman ask you what colour you’d like the car in (making the assumption you’re buying it and planting that assumption in your mind), you’ll recognise the technique. I personally get annoyed when people try that crap on me, but the reason people use it is – it works, reliably, on enough people.

    The true genius of this ad for Trump, however, is that he’s got Hillary to pay for it. Still think he can’t get the Mexicans to pay for the wall?

    https://www.facebook.com/hillaryclinton/videos/1133359850053876/

  15. Who Cares says

    @sonofrojblake(#13):
    Regarding your gotcha question. Is the democratic party a group of misandrists whose leading candidate is an even bigger misandrist?
    Why would a woman vote for a party that would chain her to the kitchen with a chain just long enough to reach the bed so that the man owning her can get her pregnant with baby number #10.

    #14:
    Nope he won’t get the Mexicans to pay for that wall, what threat can he employ to get them to do so? Remember that the immigration emigration balance (including illegals) of Mexicans is net negative, as in they are moving back to Mexico in larger numbers then that they enter the U.S.

    That aside you are right about people underestimating Trump. The question now is how many of the truly independents would vote for him seeing that tribalism will ensure that 99% of the republican registered voters will vote for him if he gets to be the nominee.

  16. sonofrojblake says

    Is the democratic party a group of misandrists whose leading candidate is an even bigger misandrist?

    I don’t know, but my opinion doesn’t signify anything – I don’t even get a vote. I do know the democratic party’s leading candidate is behind this:
    http://shop.hillaryclinton.com/products/the-woman-card
    Nice visual link to toilets, there. And pink, too – no stereotypes here, much. Also, what kind of person puts “deal me in” on what looks like a credit card? Either someone with a serious gambling problem, or someone who isn’t familiar with the concept of playing cards.
    And the tag line? “Tell Donald Trump you’re a card-carrying member of the majority. ” If that’s not designed to remind men they’re a minority, I really don’t know what it’s trying to say.

  17. sonofrojblake says

    Oh, and:

    he won’t get the Mexicans to pay for that wall, what threat can he employ to get them to do so?

    What threat did he employ to get Clinton to put out an ad so effectively visually portraying him as President? You persist in trying to apply common sense to the guy, in the teeth of the evidence that it no longer applies.

  18. Dunc says

    sonofrojblake, @16: seriously? Are you unaware of both the relevant context (i.e. Trump’s recent “woman card” remarks) and the concept of humour?

  19. sonofrojblake says

    Of course I’m aware of the context, and the concept of humour.

    Are you aware of the concept of a joke massively backfiring?

  20. Who Cares says

    @sonofrojblake(#16):
    You didn’t answer the question. Is the democratic party a party of misandrists? The republicans are the ones you should not vote for unless you are a white male earning $250k+ due to the party being racist, misogynist & followers of the prosperity gospel lie.
    I was not joking when I portrayed the republican party as the one which wants to chain women to the kitchen.

    #(17):
    Stop being childish and stamping your feet while yelling “He will, he will, he totally will”.
    Again what is he going to do?
    Visas? More border checks? Have you seen what people go through at the border already and more patrols only costs money.
    Give them money through NAFTA by threatening a trade embargo? Yup that would be smart
    A color revolution? By the time that that one finishes there will be a new PotUS.
    Out and out blackmail? Oh well that works wonders for driving Mexico straight into the arms of China/Russia, which is something he told Obama was a mistake when Obama got China and Russia to reconcile.
    There is literally nothing he can do to make the Mexicans pay, except for an outright invasion which won’t be paid for by selling Mexican oil . And that is IF they had the money which they don’t; Pemex has been privatized and through corruption bled so dry that the Mexican government will have to pony up about 100 billion (and increasing) just to keep it afloat. Oh and thanks to the privatization the state lost 1/3 of it’s income as well.

  21. sonofrojblake says

    @Who Cares, 21:
    Did you even read the first sentence of post 16? Let me help you. You asked:
    “Is the democratic party a party of misandrists?”
    I said:
    “I don’t know.” Those were literally the next three words I typed after quoting your question. Which part of that answer are you having difficulty with?

    You go on to say “The republicans are the ones you should not vote for”.
    Again, I have to question your reading comprehension, because the very next thing I said was this:
    “but my opinion doesn’t signify anything – I don’t even get a vote”.
    Again, let me spell it out for you – I do not get a vote in the US election, what with the whole living-thousands-of-miles-away-and-being-a-subject-of-Her-Majesty thing. Get it?

    Re: Trump, you ask:

    what is he going to do?

    I have no idea, and neither (as you demonstrate) do you, because neither of us are evil geniuses.

    But if I’d said this time last year that he’d destroy and humiliate Jeb Bush to the point that I’d actually feel sorry for the poor… no, actually, still RICH schmuck, you could with some justification have expressed similar disdainful disbelief, and asked me what he was going to do, and I’d have had absolutely no answer. I wouldn’t have predicted it, though, this time last year, because such a prediction would have been ridiculous.

    The only difference between us is that you, so far, don’t seem to have noticed the pattern whereby Trump defies expectations, defies the media, pundits, polls, even common sense, and gets what he wants. You seem to think it’s luck, or something. I understand, you’re far from alone in that.

    And I’m not stamping my feet. You seem to have missed my point – Trump didn’t have to threaten Hillary to get her to put out an ad that makes him look Presidential. For the reasons you state, he won’t threaten Mexico… at least, not in the ways you imagine. He won’t have to. He has other tools. That you can’t imagine them just means you’re like the rest of us. /shrug/

  22. says

    how can you be a man and vote for Hillary?

    I won’t vote, because if my choices are Hillary and Trump, I’ll vote Trump. Because some of his lies are better than Hillary’s lies. I don’t think either of them will do a fucking thing they say, of course, but I think that if Trump wants to be the undertaker of the US Empire, it’s time for the US Empire to fall.

    At this point I am willing to see it all burn.

  23. sonofrojblake says

    So vote Trump. Surely the most efficient way to bring it down, if you really believe what you say.

  24. sonofrojblake says

    Oh, and finally, from the OP:

    even if [Cruz] loses, I do not expect him to concede the race

    Is there anything in this year’s election that’s conforming to your expectations/predictions?

  25. Holms says

    #17
    You evaded the question: Is the democratic party a group of misandrists whose leading candidate is an even bigger misandrist? Because the answer is very obviously ‘no.’

    And if you think that Trump’s own promotional material being used in a Clinton attack ad amounts to Clinton doing his advertising at her own expense, that’s one thing. But if you think that that is in any way relevant to the question of how Trump could possibly enact his ‘Mexico will pay for the wall’ rhetoric, you are just wilfully deluding yourself.

  26. sonofrojblake says

    @Holms, 26: That’s not how questions work, not even the disingenuous leading question you constructed. I didn’t evade it at all – I answered it in full. That you don’t like the answer doesn’t make it “evasive”.

    You say the answer to your strawman is “very obviously” no. Perhaps it is obvious to you. It is not obvious to me. I simply don’t have enough information to answer the question, and am not prepared to simply make up an answer to suit your or any other agenda. “I don’t know” is a perfectly respectable answer. Are you one of those religious nutters who Knows the Truth? Because I’m not. If I don’t know, I’ll say so, and I don’t know.

    How about a more detailed answer? The question is in two parts: Is the democratic party a group of misandrists? Well, what does that mean? Are you asking whether the party is exclusively composed of misandrists? I’ll give you that the answer to that is very obviously “no”, given that notorious misogynist Bill Clinton is one of them. But I don’t think that’s what you were asking. Perhaps you meant is the party mostly composed of misandrists? I’d say probably not… not enough information. Is the party partly composed of misandrists? Definitely, since there’s no possible way, even in principle, to exclude them. No idea what the proportion is – too little information, again. Is the party composed partly of misandrists who are disproportionately in positions of influence? Possibly. Not enough information. Spotting a pattern?

    Part two of the question: is the leading candidate an even bigger misandrist? Begs the question somewhat with the “even bigger” qualifier. Simplifying to “is Hillary Clinton a misandrist?”, I’d say I don’t know. I can’t say she is with any certainty, but equally it is far from “obvious” that she isn’t, depending on how you define “misandrist”. I’d go further and say that, while there are some liberals and women who would snort in derision at the suggestion, there are an at least equal number of people in the US who would, if asked if Hillary was anti-men, respond with “duh”. Newsflash – not everyone agrees with you, and it appears this question is not one of empirical fact but rather of opinion. You appear to be trying to tell me my opinion is incorrect. Does that often work for you?

  27. Holms says

    #27
    Are you trying to fill the role of ‘conversationally confused StevoR’ now that he is gone? I am not the one that posed the question, I only pointed out that you evaded it. And no, “I don’t know” is not a respectable answer when it is only arrived at by avoiding the plain facts, you are simply being coy when you skip the detail and say ‘hey who can really know??’ She is not a misandrist, and the Democrat party is not built on misandry.

  28. sonofrojblake says

    A lot of people post here. Unless someone makes a particular impression on me (like StevoR, for instance) I tend to operate on the basis that you’re all just sock puppets of the same person. You’ve obviously just not made that much of an impression, sorry.

    When asked a question like “is Hillary Clinton a misandrist?”, respectability is low on my list of criteria when producing an answer. I don’t care whether you find the answer “respectable”, if to be “respectable” I have to lie and pretend I know more than I do. I’m not sure what “plain facts” you’re referring to which allow you to characterise Clinton’s innermost thoughts. You say she’s not a misandrist – fair enough, if that’s what you think.

    Be honest though: do you really believe that the American public would agree with you on that? In fact, I’ll be more reasonable than that – 100% of the American public wouldn’t agree on anything. Let’s try:

    Do you believe that more than 70% of American men would unhestitatingly agree with your opinion that Hillary is not a misandrist?

    (Note: the gender breakdown of Hillary’s vote come November will be fascinating to see. As will the Donald’s. He’s already done unexpectedly well with women. I anticipate Hillary will do unexpectedly badly with men – but we’ll see.)

  29. Holms says

    A lot of people post here. Unless someone makes a particular impression on me (like StevoR, for instance) I tend to operate on the basis that you’re all just sock puppets of the same person. You’ve obviously just not made that much of an impression, sorry.

    Rather than point out that the criticism of mixing posters up, you decide to take the snide insult ‘you’re just not worth noticing’ approach. I sahll pass on to StevoR that you are carrying the torch for his facetiousness.

    Do you believe that more than 70% of American men would unhestitatingly agree with your opinion that Hillary is not a misandrist?

    So it’s your position that I can’t speculate about Hillary’s thoughts, but the next paragraph asks me to speculate about the thoughts of 70% of American men. Amazing.

    But of course you are still playing coy about the question: Is the democratic party a group of misandrists whose leading candidate is an even bigger misandrist? Or reworded slightly: Do you have information enough to allege that the democratic party is a group of misandrists whose leading candidate is an even bigger misandrist? No need to play the schoolyard level evasion of ‘we can’t know what she is thinking so who really knows ¯\_(ツ)_/¯’ so just answer without games.

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