The Professional Pontificators got it wrong, again. They are all over the place trying to make sense of last night’s (Tuesday, 15 December, 2015) Republican debate and they are as clueless as ever. Trump is going to win. He’s going to win the Republican nomination. He’s going to win the general election in November 2016. And he’s going to win by a lot. Here’s why (and how).
Trump is much smarter, not only intellectually, but in practical ‘street smarts’ than nearly anyone gives him credit for (or understands). He’s also amazingly consistent in what he believes in, what he really cares about, and what he likes to do, and what wants to do. Anyone with half a normal working brain can readily confirm that by simply reading the book he published in 1987 (“The Art of the Deal”) and comparing it to what he’s been saying over the past year, including last night’s debate.
He is also not the least bit crazy, erratic, impulsive, or reckless. His ‘crazy’ is entirely as in “crazy like a fox”. It is deliberate, conscious, carefully crafted, and used as an instrument (or, when necessary, weapon) to get the results he aims to get. Whether he has ever read it or not, he embodies the practical wisdom described in Thomas Cleary’s “Thunder in the Sky: Secrets on the Acquisition and Exercise of Power”, a brilliant translation of two Chinese Taoist classics: “The Master of Demon Valley” and “The Master of the Hidden Storehouse.” (We’ll have more to say about that in a later article.)
So far nearly everyone (friends, foes, pundits, the media, and just about everyone else) has grossly underestimated Trump. This is, in large part, because he is far more interested in getting the results he aims for than he is in getting attention, praise, blame, money, fame, or anything else.
As far as the Republican nomination goes, the tipping point in Trump’s favor will come when Republicans who oppose him shift from trying to defeat him to trying to ingratiate themselves with him in hopes of a favorable position in or in relation to his administration as President of the United States. Last night’s debate shows that Trump is very close to that tipping point. The signs are abundant.
First is the obvious détente between Trump and his nearest rival, Ted Cruz. Some pundits say Trump held off criticizing Cruz because he (Trump) was criticized for being too critical of others. That’s a very stupid assertion. Trump does not hesitate to attack those who attack him (as he did last night with Junior Bush). Each time he does, his poll numbers rise. Trump did not attack Cruz because Cruz (after being clearly warned by Trump of the consequences) chose to back off criticism of Trump. Cruz clearly realizes that he and Trump actually are very close on most issues, that Trump has a better chance of winning than he does, and that running as Vice President on a Trump/Cruz ticket might not be a bad second choice option (there are other possibilities, like a position in President Trump’s cabinet).
Second is the equally obvious (for those who have eyes to see) change in relationship between Trump, on the one hand, and Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee, on the other. As he did with Cruz in the run-up to last night’s debate, Trump also fired a shot across the bow of Priebus and the Republican establishment by hinting that if they tried to screw him (by working with the like of Junior Bush and Company) to stack a brokered convention against him (as implied by the morons at the Washington Post in another of their stupid desperate-for-anyone-but-Trump articles on behalf of Hillary Clinton and Company) that he would consider them in breach of contract and feel free to run as in independent. The result was hugs all around and a clear declaration by Trump that he would run only as a Republican.
The major highlight of the debate that got the most applause from the crowd in the Venetian Ballroom was when Trump so astonished Hugh Hewitt that Hewitt even forgot himself to the point of joining in the applause for Trump. Obviously expecting an evasive answer from Trump, Hewitt asked: “My listeners tell me again and again they are worried that Hillary Clinton will win the White House because you’ll run as an independent. Are you ready to assure Republicans tonight that you will run as a Republican and abide by the decision of the Republicans?”
Trump replied: “I really am. I’ll be honest, I really am.” That not only got the biggest and most enthusiastic round of applause of the night from the crowd, but from a clearly surprised (and pleased) Hewitt as well who, despite his role as a supposedly neutral debate moderator, said “I’ve got to applaud!” visibly and audibly clapped his hands for Trump, on camera, for all to see.
Trump swiftly (and skillfully) followed up saying: “I’ve gained great respect for the Republican leadership. I’ve gained great respect for many — and I’m going to even say — I mean, in different forms for the people on the dais, in different forms.” That brought a round of laughter from the crowd. Trump repeated, “In different forms” and went on to say “But I have great respect for the people I have met through this process. I’ve never done this process before. I’ve never been a politician. I mean, for the last six months I’ve been a politician. But I will tell you, I am totally committed to the Republican Party. I feel very honored to be the front runner.”
Hewitt then turned to pose a version of the same question to Ben Carson saying: “Dr. Carson, Mr. Trump just committed to stay the distance regardless of the result. How about you?” Carson replied: “Well, you know, the statement that I made last week, that I would leave the party, was contingent upon whether in fact the party acts like they have in the past with a lot of subterfuge and dishonesty, or like they’re going act now. Because I spoke to Reince Priebus, and he assured me that the Washington Post writer had it all wrong, and that they’re not be engaging in anything to thwart the will of the people. That’s why I got into this race, as a member of we the people, to try bring some honesty and integrity back to the process.”
Carson, of course, was the first of Trump’s rivals to align himself with Trump. Now Cruz has done so as well as have Priebus and the RNC. Rand Paul, while continuing to criticize some of Trumps’ positions, also held back from attacking Trump personally, using his heaviest ammunition on Chris Christie, instead. Carly Fiorina did not attack Trump, either. Neither, for the most part, did Marco Rubio. Rubio instead turned his guns Cruz, but Cruz demolished him, instead. Christie didn’t really attack Trump, either. He unloaded what little ammo he had, indiscriminately (and ineffectually), on Cruz, Rubio, and Paul.
So who still apparently wants to be told “Your fired!” by President Trump? Only the really big totally losers in the field, the distant also rans: Junior Bush, George Pataki, John Kasich, and Lindsay Graham. But they are done. They are history. They are going the way of Hillary Clinton. And they will not be missed.