Another Instructive Lesson for Trump Supporters


When assessing politicians, particularly those running for the presidency, I’ve found it most informative not to put too much weight on their specific promises, but rather to observe how they go about seeking votes and dealing with the conflicts that arise in a campaign, as well as things they say extemporaneously that give a clue as to their general philosophies.

In that regard, consider Donald Trump’s eagerness to jump into a National Enquirer conspiracy theory about Ted Cruz’s father somehow being connected with the assassination of John F. Kennedy and his reaction when Cruz fired back at him.  Here are a few quotations from those articles (two block quotes from the first and one from the second) to illustrate a point:

  • “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said Tuesday during a phone interview with Fox News. “What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”
  • Asked to respond [to an earlier statement from Cruz’s father supporting his son’s candidacy and opining that “alternative could be the destruction of America”], Trump called it a disgrace. “I think it’s a disgrace that he’s allowed to do it. I think it’s a disgrace that he’s allowed to say it,” he said, before touting his support from Jerry Falwell Jr. and other evangelical leaders.
  • In a statement [responding to Ted Cruz’s making fun of the conspiracy theory], Mr. Trump said: “Ted Cruz is a desperate candidate trying to save his failing campaign. It is no surprise he has resorted to his usual tactics of over-the-top rhetoric that nobody believes. Over the last week, I have watched Lyin’ Ted become more and more unhinged as he is unable to react under the pressure and stress of losing, in all cases by landslides, the last six primary elections — in fact, coming in last place in all but one of them. Today’s ridiculous outburst only proves what I have been saying for a long time, that Ted Cruz does not have the temperament to be president of the United States.”

Now, frankly, the thing that jumped out at me about the first statement from Trump wasn’t his trafficking in conspiracy theories — I don’t take such off-the-charts statements from him seriously anymore — but rather his related incredulity that Cruz’s father should be allowed to speak negatively of his son’s opponent.  That speaks to a dangerous inclination to silence, dismiss, and erase people who disagree with Trump.

But since The Donald kept doubling down, let’s take the opportunity for a lesson by reviewing the steps of the exchange:

  1. Rafael Cruz gave a pointed warning about the consequences of (one infers) a Donald Trump presidency.
  2. Donald Trump said he didn’t think Cruz should even be allowed to say such things and went on to whine about a lack of media coverage of a conspiracy story from a tabloid renowned for decades for its outrageously false material.
  3. Ted Cruz responded to Trump by saying the rhetoric is nuts and that Trump lies repeatedly and then “accuse[s] everybody else of lying.”
  4. Trump, who started this particular spat by elevating an online video interview with his opponent’s father to a national sensation by promoting a conspiracy theory exhibits classic projection, insisting that Cruz always resorts to “over-the-top rhetoric,” that Cruz is “unable to react under the pressure and stress of losing” (an assertion theatrically refuted through an online video of a calm Ted Cruz interacting with a Trump supporter who responded with nothing but insults and smug looks), and that Cruz doesn’t have a presidential temperament.

Objectively, it is Donald Trump who is crossing lines from the boundaries usually expected within political campaigns.  As has been previously suggested (here, for one), Trump is gaslighting, or saying things that are so audaciously not true — while accusing others of his own bad behavior — that arguments become he-said-she-said assertions in which Trump steals a march by being considered at least on an even footing.

The lesson is that this is a con-artist technique.  Public figures who support Donald Trump should take a moment to consider whether it would be better to admit they’ve been scammed while there’s still a chance to avoid the hit to their credibility.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    First, our founders anticipated a raucous democracy. Consider all of the newspaper references to Jefferson’s relationship with “dusky Sally”. Polite debate is a recent invention.

    You might wonder why a Cuban (never to be called “Hispanic”) are Republicans. They despised JFK and other Democrats because JFK denied them the air cover promised for the Bay of Pigs invasion. If a Cuban was found to be involved in the JFK assassination, it should be a surprise to no one.

  • ShannonEntropy

    In that regard, consider Donald Trump’s eagerness to jump into a National Enquirer conspiracy theory about Ted Cruz’s father somehow being connected with the assassination of John F. Kennedy etc etc …

    What ?? Are you suggesting we can’t believe what we read in NatEnq ??

    You get all the Real News there … first !!

  • Mike678

    I’m convinced! Hillary 2016! No, wait…..

    • stuckinRI

      EXACTLY. Looks like there will be NO GOOD presidential choices come November. And PLEASE save the ‘third party’ rhetoric… any vote for a 3rd party candidate is a vote for Hilary and everyone know it.
      How on earth did we actually get here? How did we end up with THESE choices to fill the presidency? Why aren’t there any decent candidates for president? Decent in the respect that the public can actually (God forbid) trust them?
      There are a multitude of reasons why we have the candidates we currently have and none of them are good. We need to take a hard look at where we are, and how we got here… and make some serious changes for the better. Because change is coming regardless, and left unchecked none of us while like the outcome.

    • OceanStateCurrent

      The thin thread of an argument for a Trump vote (unless something changes) is that he MIGHT not be as bad as Clinton. Judging from his character, I think he might actually be worse. Whatever they might do in office, the only thing that can change the country is for the electorate to start making some logical connections and for people to change their beliefs and behavior. I’d argue that we reach that even much more quickly if the problems are unambiguously on the Left.

      The odds are very good that some major calamity resulting from the Obama years will hit during the next presidential term. Better to have it happen during a Clinton presidency than to give the radicals a thread on which tie it to a “conservative Republican” Trump.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        I am re-reading an old Tom Clancy novel. Part of the trilogy where the U.S. government is destroyed by a Japanese pilot flying a 747 into the capitol building. Following that, an entirely new government is formed. He describes a process where the new politicians start crediting themselves for the idea that America survived. They slowly begin justifying entitlements for themselves. Seems logical to me. I think the Americans have tired of the “entitlements”, Senators demanding treatment like a medieval prince, federal employees making 40% more than private industry, billions spent foolishly for “defense”, meanwhile they grow poorer. Rebellions do not necessarily begin at “the rude bridge that arched the flood”.

        The latest skulduggery is the Virginia governor’s allowing convicted felons to vote. The obvious intention is to increase the black vote for Hillary. I find this quite offensive, In Chicago, the dead vote. In Virginia, the killers. This sort of thing explains the support for Trump.

  • ShannonEntropy

    … … any vote for a 3rd party candidate is a vote for Hilary and everyone know it.

    Not necessarily … a Bern-ing Man 3rd Party run would be the equivalent of what Ralph Nader did to Gore in 2000

    Nader didn’t win a single electoral vote … but he got enough votes in FL WV & TN [[ Gore’s home State ]] to give all three to Dubya. Since Gore only lost by FIVE electoral votes ,, even winning tiny traditionally-blue-voting WV with its 5 votes would have won Al the election

    FTR ,, Bernie is the only candidate I’ve contributed to … and now will do so again in hopes he launches that 3rd Party bid

  • Max

    I just wanna’ puke. We have a liberal Wall Street Democrat running against a conservative anti-Wall Street Democrat. WTF!

    • OceanStateCurrent

      Wait… who’s the conservative anti-Wall Street Democrat?

      • Max

        Good question.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Try this:

    Warren tweets that Trump has built his campaign on “racism, sexism and xenophobia” and that there’s more enthusiasm for him “among the leaders of the KKK than leaders of the political party he now controls.”

    Warren says what happens next is “a character test for all of us — Republican, Democrat, and Independent.” So spake Fauxcahontas (Elizabeth Warren)

    This is what Trump contends with. Is Xenophobia derived from Xenophon and his 10,000?

  • Art