In some ways I find it difficult to decide who I find more despicable: Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Trump is engaging in demagoguery that would have done Benito Mussolini proud and pandering to the racism and bigotry so widespread in the GOP base. Yet, Cruz is little better and is prostituting himself to the most extreme Christofascists on the party base when not seeking to channel the late Joe McCarthy. Both are horrible individuals in my view and dangerous. Now, with Cruz having pulled ahead of Trump in the Iowa polls - even as Trump hits new highs in GOP national polls - a potentially delicious moment is before us: Trump trying to destroy Cruz. Politico looks at the coming dueling of demagogues and hate merchants. I hope they destroy each other. Here are excerpts:
Donald Trump wants to pick a fight with Ted Cruz. Cruz wants no part of it.As the top two presidential contenders in most national polls prepare to square off in the CNN debate Tuesday night, one of the most important sub-dramas will be Trump’s attempts to engage Cruz -- and Cruz’s efforts to avoid getting drawn in.Cruz fears alienating Trump’s supporters, having painstakingly positioned himself to take possession of the mogul’s large following should Trump’s backers decide he is unfit for the presidency.For months, Cruz has referred to Trump as his “friend,” chided the media for asking about contrasts with the real estate mogul, and dismissed other Republican candidates who “go out of their way to smack Donald with a stick.”Now, with Cruz rising in the polls, Trump is suddenly recognizing him as more threat than friend, and the billionaire has gone on the offensive against the Texas senator, opening up a challenging and potentially awkward new dynamic for Cruz headed into Tuesday’s Las Vegas encounter, when the two men will stand side by side onstage.The senator confronts an odd balancing act: how to de-escalate tensions with Trump and not offend the national poll-leader’s supporters, while also avoiding seeming timid if Trump intensifies attacks, as he already has on a host of other GOP candidates. . . . . It doesn’t seem to be in Cruz’s nature to go take a whole bunch of punches.” But Trump is increasingly trying to land them.Over the weekend, Trump called Cruz a “maniac,” painting him as an intransigent force in the Senate, and repeatedly tweeted out critical comments about Cruz, who was recorded at a fundraiser last week privately raising questions about Trump’s judgment and experience, according to audio posted by the New York Times.The issue is, Trump is going to go out and hammer Cruz really, really hard, as he likes to do, and Cruz better be prepared to hammer him just as hard right back — otherwise I don’t think Cruz is going to come out of this as well as he otherwise could.”The kid-glove handling Cruz has used until now comes in large part from a desire to avoid alienating Trump’s supporters, who could be a natural Cruz constituency. Cruz is upfront about his approach.Trump has a knack for knocking the candidates in his sights off message and for fanning damaging narratives about rivals — whether it was calling Jeb Bush “low energy” or raising questions about Ben Carson’s suitability to hold high office. And sooner or later, most observers expect them to come after Cruz even more aggressively.“You never know what crazy thing is going to come out of his mouth,” said Jeff Miller, the campaign manager for Rick Perry, who was a frequent Trump target.
Yet a growing list of endorsements from influential conservatives in Iowa and elsewhere could serve to insulate Cruz should he come under serious fire from Trump, providing him with a circling-of-the-wagons defense that Trump's other targets could not muster.
Tomorrow evening should prove entertaining even if the things coming out of the GOP candidates' mouths otherwise make you want to either throw up or throw something at the television.