Watch the split screen video of Trump closing the jaws of the "New York values" trap the smarmy Texan set for himself. There have been some memorable presidential politics debates (I paid for this microphone, you are no Jack Kennedy, please proceed, etc.) but I have never seen a knockout punch like the one Trump delivered to Ted Cruz's jaw Thursday night. Josh Marshall captures it well. - gwc
Lets go to the videotape.
A Moment of Destiny - by Josh Marshall // Talking Points Memo
When I was a small boy my dad and I would watch the great prize fights of the day. Ali v Frazier, Ali v Foreman, Ali v Spinks. Boxing is a terrible, brutal sport. But there is a beauty in watching these greats, often perfectly matched, do battle. Back during the phony war period of the Cruz/Trump confrontation I noted that we may be witnessing a comparable battle of two titans. "That," I wrote, "is one of the many things that makes the current Trump-Cruz phony war so compelling. Trump is baiting Cruz into the same smackdown he's used to eat up Bush, Walker, Fiorina and others. But Cruz won't take the bait. Like two zen masters facing off in a martial arts classic or perhaps two wizards doing battle in The Lord of the Rings, we have an epic confrontation between two masters who have trained for decades in the arts of assholery and bullying. But their powers equally matched, it is a stand off."
The Cruz camp seemed to realize that that exchange was highly damaging. In part it was damaging of the substance. 9/11 is the pulsing 50 million volt wire at the center of the gas filled early 21st century GOP worldview. Once it's invoked, everyone has to run for cover, bow down, run, clap. There's no fighting it. And here Cruz walked right into it, totally unaware of what was coming. It was Cruz at his nastiest, smarmiest, callowest best. And BAM! He didn't know what hit him.
But there's another element to beyond getting angled into insulting the city that endured the brunt of the 9/11 attacks. Always in Republican politics but especially in this cycle, much of the meta-messaging of the campaign is about dominating and being dominated. It is the central theme of Trump's whole message and he has used his competitors as the canvas on which he paints the picture - first Walker, then Bush, Fiorina, now Cruz. Trump didn't just catch Cruz out with 9/11, he crushed him. He dominated him. Completely. If you watch the video below, you can see Cruz's face start subtly to wilt as he sees what's happening and is helpless to defend himself. And not half way into Trump's assault Cruz starts clapping. Cheering the man who is in the midst of eviscerating him. That kind of weakness can't go unanswered in the battle to be the nominee the Republican base is looking for. That's why Cruz is running around so stung today.
Let's watch the tape, because it is a thing of hideous beauty.