If there's on thing the past several months have proven, it's that predicting the end of Donald Trump’s campaign is a fool’s errand. But if I were in the business of making such predictions, there might be no demise more fitting than if Trump were nailed to Ted Cruz’s cross by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh, along with Mark Levin, another of the right’s leading talkers, criticized Trump on Monday for maybe the first time ever, and you know it must have hurt their blackened little hearts to do so. Their ire stemmed from some comments Trump made over the weekend, in which he called Cruz a "maniac" who has alienated his Senate colleagues by haranguing and screaming at them all the time. "You can’t walk into the Senate and scream and call people liars, and not be able to cajole and get along with people," Trump said. "He’ll never get anything done, and that’s the problem with Ted."
(No mention of Cruz’s biggest sin, teaching his colleagues the wrong lesson of “Green Eggs and Ham,” for which he should be forced to take a Survey of Children’s Literature class at the Learning Annex.)
Trump’s point, made in his own inimitable way, was that a President Cruz would never be able to work with Congress, which would lead to more legislative gridlock in Washington. A President Trump, according to candidate Trump, would be much more able to cajole fellow Republicans to pass legislation, as well as reach across the aisle to Democrats; his ability to talk to everyone and get them to love him being part of Trump’s shtick. The claim that you can be more bipartisan than the other guy is a standard presidential campaign trope used by every modern-day candidate.
For this, Limbaugh criticized Trump for echoing “the establishment’s” complaints about Cruz, saying it “raised a red flag” because a “genuine conservative” would not attack the Texas senator like that. Which, if he was serious, might be the most naïve statement Limbaugh has ever made. Of course Trump was bound to go after Cruz at some point; they are the top two contenders in the field right now. Did he think the Republican primary would roll on without either man ever trying to knock the other’s poll numbers down?
Limbaugh qualified his comments by saying he merely found it “interesting” that Trump attacked Cruz in this manner, later acting as if this was just a temporary disappointment. His producer must have been getting some angry calls.
Mark Levin, on the other hand, all but bit off Trump’s gloriously meringue head. In a nine-minute rant, the nasally voiced radio host went after the candidate for parroting “the establishment’s” attacks on Cruz over the latter’s divisiveness. “Why raise a stupid point!” Levin yelled while excoriating Trump for taking the bait from those terrible mainstream media jerks at Fox News who hate Cruz and would love to goad the two candidates into the presidential campaign version of a street fight.
Levin’s angst was enhanced by his belief that “we’re fighting through this primary process because we’re trying to find the right person to save what’s left of this country!” Just imagine being Mark Levin, looking outside of your window every morning at the charred hellscape that was once America. I imagine he can’t send back a hamburger in a restaurant without reducing his waiter to tears: “I said rare! Rare, rare, rare! Does this look rare to you? Tell that chef to take his Johnson and Wales degree and shove it up his ass, and then cook me a rare hamburger!”
The irony of all of this is that Trump is absolutely correct. A president who wants legislation passed through Congress must absolutely be able to talk to both Republicans and Democrats, to build coalitions and consensus. In fact, one of the charges Republicans, and even some Democrats, have long leveled against President Obama is that in their opinion, he has failed to build relationships with legislators on Capitol Hill, which has made passing his agenda more difficult.
This complaint from the GOP ignores the historically undeniable fact that the party agreed from the day Obama was sworn in to block his agenda in every way possible, and the president kept trying to talk to them anyway before finally realizing the futility of the exercise. But as the saying goes, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.
Of course, Limbaugh, Levin and their acolytes do not want a Republican who will build consensus. They want a conservative who will steamroll anyone in his path the way they feel the unrepentant socialist Obama has done for the past seven years. What they don’t seem to realize is that even with President Cruz in the White House and control of both chambers of Congress, the Democrats will be as potentially capable of slowing down the machinery of government to keep a conservative agenda from being enacted as the Republicans were for the first couple of years of the Obama presidency. (I say potentially capable because having the tools to do so is different from having the will, and come on, we’re talking about the Democrats.)
In a far more decent world, the fact that just about everything else Trump has said for the last six months – the racist attacks on illegal immigrants, the misogyny, his call for keeping all Muslims out of America even if they are already citizens – has made him the frontrunner for the GOP nomination would appall two of the loudest voices in the party. That world must be a nice place and I hope we all get to visit it someday. For now, though, we’re stuck with the one where it takes a remarkably accurate criticism of the only opponent who can match his scummy, low, unforgivable rhetoric to get the most conservative voices to turn on Trump.