Thanks to Donald Trump, the focus is finally on the issues that really matter in the U.S. election. “Did you see [John Kasich]?” he asked at a rally. “I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion.”
Trump cringed. “I tell my children, ‘Small, little bites.’ This guy takes a pancake and he’s shoving it in his mouth. It’s disgusting. Do you want that for your president? I don’t think so.” Hang on, so America is just going to concede the G7 competitive eating crown to Merkel? NOT ON KASICH’S WATCH, FRIEND-O.
Five minutes and three topics later, Trump abruptly circled back: “Bites this big! He’s pushing it in! I never saw a guy eat like this!” It’s enough to make Trump update his slogan: “Make America masticate again.”
The stakes are now clear. If Trump is the Republican choice, it will set the party back a generation, says Ted Cruz. If Cruz snatches away the nomination, it will destroy the party for good, says Trump. And if Kasich wins, no one’s going to want to sit across from the United States at the UN pancake breakfast.
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Predictably, Trump’s rivals have taken another crack at an alliance to deny him the nomination. You can see the logic: Combine the powers of Cruz and Kasich and you’ve got almost half the charisma of an accountant. And talk about momentum! Nothing says “runaway freight train” quite like the coming together of a guy who’s losing and a guy who’s already lost.
On social media, Cruz uses a photo in which, chin raised, he stares off heroically into the distance. This is how he sees himself: a visionary leader of courage. This contrasts with how others view him: as possessing all the heroic qualities of a parched fern.
I watched a Cruz rally in its entirety the other day. It was like watching an infomercial for meh. Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders—these candidates can rally a crowd. Cruz was at his most animated when he proudly declared that “America is the Saudi Arabia of coal!”—which is a weird claim, and doesn’t even rank in the top 10 of cool things to be Saudi Arabia of. (No. 3: the Saudi Arabia of mutton chops.)
Cruz wrapped things up by calling on Republicans to “vote for me 10 times”—not by cheating, mind you, but by phoning nine friends and urging them to support Cruz. Bonus: This is a real timesaver if you’ve been looking to lose nine friends.
Meanwhile, somewhere in America, Kasich was eating a muffin in one bite, probably.
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If you haven’t been watching Trump rallies lately, you’ve been missing out. There is evidence of his recent decision to bring aboard some professional consultants—they’ve clearly told him to be more positive. But Trump won’t ever stop Trumping, so the best he can do is shoehorn a little of the upbeat stuff into his usual spiel about how America is the washed-up, beaten-down patsy of Chinese geniuses and Mexican rapists.
“We have love in our hearts!” he shouted at a Rhode Island rally, for no apparent reason. Moments later, he urged citizens to “lock your doors” because a few Syrian refugees have settled in the state. “Who knows? Maybe it’s ISIS.”
Classic Trump moments continue to abound. He mocked President Obama for flying a 747 to Hawaii and “then saying the carbon footprint is being destroyed.” (Uh, I don’t think Trump knows what a carbon footprint is.) Later, he belittled Kasich, saying negative ads against the Ohio governor would cause his support “to collapse like a rock.” (I don’t think Trump knows what a rock is.)
A week ago, Trump’s new campaign manager assured the Republican establishment the bluster is all for show. Trump is playing to the people! Just let him be president and he’ll be totally dignified and measured. Because nothing sands down the rough edges of a megalomaniac like access to nuclear weapons.
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The establishment doesn’t seem to have a say in it. Ted Cruz is the Saudi Arabia of failure. Let’s hope he skips the obligatory political memoir and instead commemorates his campaign with an Instagram filter that makes photos look dull. Meantime, the stress is getting to Kasich. A journalist asked if his alliance with Cruz means he’s desperate. “Me?No, I’m not desperate—are you?” he asked the reporter. “Are you desperate?”
Also, are you going to ﬁnish that sandwich?