The Effects of Twittergate

Donald Trump and Ben Carson have been hammering away at Ted Cruz since Monday over the controversial tweet by Cruz’ staff that Carson was leaving the campaign – or the campaign trail.


What they passed on was the news from CNN. Allegedly, Marco Rubio’s campaign tweeters also passed on the message but then quickly erased the messages from their devices.  An investigation is on-going.


Trump was looking very pleased with himself at the last news conference. He’s even said that he might invite Cruz to run with him as Vice President (!).  The result of Trump’s campaign is that Cruz’ New Hampshire numbers have gone down and Rubio’s have risen, putting him in second place.


Various polls suggest that in a race against Hillary Clinton, Cruz would tie her but Rubio would win. Given the superficial nature of American voters and Clinton’s legal woes, that is a distinct possibility.  Trump’s poll numbers in Iowa were nothing like what numerous polls said they would be.  Twittergate has all but guaranteed that Cruz will not win in New Hampshire.


Not now. Even a day or two after the Iowa Caucuses, Cruz was still in second place.  A concerted effort by Carson and Trump on Fox News was necessary to cement doubt about Cruz into voter’s minds.  Trump harped on about Cruz’ deceit and underhandedness.  Carson demanded, in addition to Cruz’ apology, that Cruz fire the guilty party.  Word was going around that Cruz’ campaign team had a tendency to play dirty.


Still, no one wants to take Carson to task (least of all, Greta Van Sustern). Even Glenn Beck excused Carson’s desire to decamp from the campaign for awhile.  Take a rest?  That’s fine – after the Caucus is over, not while the vote is still in play.  He was a shepherd abandoning his flock.


Yes, campaigning for the office of President of the United States is hard. Being President is even harder.  Is politics a dirty game?  Sure is.  When I was younger, I went to a rally for George H.W. Bush in Madison, N.J.  A couple of young ladies were standing just past the metal detectors, taking away voters’ campaign signs.  They claimed they were “Secret Service agents” and that the signs posed a danger to the candidate; a shooter could be hiding behind the sign.


Except that we’d already gone through the metal detector.


What a crock. Anyone could see they were a couple of silly college girls, hacks for the opposition.  I challenged them.  People on the other side had signs.  The one girl relented, saying to her companion, “You know, this really isn’t right.”


“The ends justify the means,” her friend replied. Soon, a man in a woolly, professorial hat showed up.  All our signs were torn up and heaped into a pile of violated First Amendment rights.


That’s dirty politics.


The accusation of spreading false information against Cruz has stuck and Trump is pluming himself on his victory. Meanwhile, why is no one questioning Carson on his leaving the campaign trail – albeit, briefly – before the vote in Iowa was over?  Rubio stuck around to thank his supporters after the voting was over.  As did Cruz.


Has he inherited Obama’s magic melanin, which no criticism can permeate? Cruz passed on already published information.  The headline of the memo read something like, “Carson Taking a Break” not “Carson Leaving Campaign.”


But he was leaving Iowa prematurely and Cruz’ people took advantage of his absence – something, given the nature of the Iowa Caucuses, they had a right to do. Unless people understand that, the smear will stick.


Trump knows how to play the media like a well-tuned information. He will continue his tirade before the cameras, Goebbels style, distributing his own misinformation until he’s railroaded Cruz out of the race.  Talk about playing dirty politics.  Trump is the master of dirty tricks, smears, and manipulation.


Incidentally, speaking of CNN’s responsibility in this controversy, here is the way they explained the general purposes of the Iowa Caucuses:

“No one said democracy should be easy.

“Iowa voters on Monday at last cast their verdicts on the Democratic and Republican presidential fields in the state’s intricate and quirky caucuses, officially launching the 2016 White House race.

“But along with Iowa’s first-in-the-nation privileges come responsibility. After all, the state’s discerning political activists can make or break campaigns painstakingly pieced together over years in a single night.

“So it’s fitting that the caucuses — caucuses, plural, not singular caucus — impose some unusual burdens on voters. In the Iowa caucuses, unlike primaries countrywide, you can’t just get away with pulling a lever in a curtained polling booth at any time of the day that’s convenient.”

“Can’t get away with” voting in private?

“Instead, hardy Iowans must attend public meetings in school gyms, arts centers, churches, libraries, restaurants and even fire stations in 1,681 precincts to vote for a candidate. The process is much longer — it can take several hours — and more convoluted than a primary ballot. So we’ve provided a guide to understanding how the Iowa voting ritual works.

“Caucus meetings for Iowa Democrats and Republicans begin at 7 p.m. Central Time, or 8 p.m. for the East Coast. Anyone who shows up on time can take part. But don’t be late. Once the doors close, there is no entry for stragglers.


“The GOP process is the simpler one.

“Caucus meetings begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and then activists get straight to the main event — selecting their presidential candidates in a binding vote.

Each campaign gets the chance to have a representative make a final pitch to any wavering voters before a secret ballot. Some caucus sites might use a printed ballot paper. Others just go with a candidate’s name on a scrap of paper.   The italics are this blog’s.

“Raw totals of votes are tallied by local party officials and sent to Iowa GOP headquarters, where a running count is kept.”

There’s the difference between primaries and the Iowa caucuses – campaign representatives must compete for the vote, make their case for their candidate and, thanks to the First Amendment, against the opposition.

Cruz’ campaign didn’t actually do anything wrong. Yet Cruz still apologized to Carson.  We shouldn’t sympathize too much with Carson (especially if we’re doing it on account of his race or religion or whatever).  The doctor has to take his medicine just like everyone else.

Far from being an innocent victim, Carson’s playing the political game himself. Someone (CNN, actually) “caught him out” as the English like to say, and now he and Trump are trying to turn his error in judgment against a competitor, with another politician reaping the rewards.

That politician – Rubio – would probably have won the general election in the end. But the contest in New Hampshire, according to the polls earlier in the week, may well have gone to Cruz before this controversy started.

On the other hand, Cruz may have moles in his own campaign, undermining him. I’d have fired whoever it was, not because Carson demanded it and Trump was making political hay of it, but because I was being hurt by it and that staffer’s trustworthiness is in question.

When in doubt (it would have to be great doubt, mind you, and perhaps Cruz either didn’t know who it was or didn’t have enough evidence of guilt – in this country you’re innocent until proven guilty), kick them out, if only on grounds of stupidity or incompetence.

He didn’t fire them, though, and the evidence, if anyone bothers to examine it, shows whoever it might have been, the message and rumors didn’t originate with them. The error certainly didn’t originate with them, but with Carson himself.

Supposing that instead of Candidate Carson, he was President Carson, and instead of a caucus fight, some catastrophe had struck Iowa, a serious enough catastrophe to warrant the appearance of the President of the United States – say, a terrorist attack? Now a blizzard, common enough to the Midwest – is approaching.  Is he really going to get on a plane, saying that he’s tired?

Actually, any President just might, at the insistence of the Secret Service. It might even be understandable.

But his critics are going to lambaste him for it whether he likes it or not and those critics are going to be from CNN and the Democrat Party, not the GOP or Fox News. If Carson somehow were to get the nomination, how would he answer Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders about leaving Iowa before the Caucus vote had ended?

Chris Christie and others left early, too. As one wag at The Bergen Record wrote, ‘Christie left Iowa early and headed straight home – for New Hampshire.’  If they’re not paying as much of a political price for leaving, it’s because they’re much further down in the polls.  They’re not at 4th place.

Interestingly, Carson is now much farther down in the polls, even while Rubio is moving ahead of Cruz. He’s down at the very bottom of the polls now.  According to RealClearPolitics, WBUR/Mass!NBC, Boston Globe/Suffolk, and NBC/WSJ /Marist all have him at 4 percent.  Only Carly Fiorina is lower and only in the NBC and ARG polls (ARG rates Carson at an even lower 2 percent).

If Carson is so righteous and so ill-treated, why are his New Hampshire poll numbers in the tank after Iowa? None of this complaining has done Carson any good, apparently, while it hurts Cruz.  The caterwauling has benefitted Rubio (also from Florida, we might add), however.

Maybe Granite Staters have no more use for snowbirds than their country cousins in Iowa.

Friends who live in New Hampshire tell us there’s nothing to worry about – there’s not a snowflake to be found on the ground in New Hampshire, or at least not in the southern part of the state, where they live.

Maybe that’s why Carson suddenly decided to go there.





Published in: on February 5, 2016 at 1:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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