Given the fact that Ted Cruz had actually topped Donald Trump in a poll of likely caucus goers in Iowa I among many others was hoping to see an interesting encounter last night between the two, as Trump has shown a tendency to verbally cut down whoever seems to be robbing a bit of attention from the great bloviator.
It turned out just the opposite. Though Cruz had recently suggested Trump’s judgement wasn’t up to snuff for a president and Trump had employed the label “maniac” in describing Cruz, neither went at the other last night. Just the opposite. Standing next to each other, they were almost best buds.
When the “maniac” comment was brought up, Trumped disowned it with a laugh and a friendly jab at Cruz. Ted apparently had morphed from a maniac into a good guy. Such is the unexpected nature of the Donald’s thinking.
It seems the two have an unstated alliance. They benefit by not attacking each other at this point as they are well clear of the pack in Iowa and attacking each other at this point would only provide openings for the others to attack them. They remind me of Hitler and Stalin who found it in their best interests to get along, having each others’ backs until Hitler decided it was time to stab Stalin in the back.
As the February 9 caucus date approaches, will that time come? I expect to see the fun couple begin to find more wrong with each other and it really could get interesting after that if Cruz has the audacity to win in Iowa.
While I see Cruz as a weasel and Trump as a snake oil salesman, I have to tip my hat to the skillful way they have played this political version of Survivor. What seems surreal to people like me, seems just a new reality that they have adjusted to better than the rest.
Trump has been playing the media and American angst like a virtuoso while Cruz has been drafting behind him like a nascar driver awaiting his chance to pounce.
Unless something surprising pops up that makes the other candidates relevant, Trump and Cruz are the Republican race in Iowa and I’ll be especially curious to see what Cruz does. He’s got a better chance to trump Trump in evangelical Iowa than he has in the more secular New Hampshire, but does he really want to get into a mano a mano with Trump?
Perhaps he is hoping like many others that the Trump balloon will eventually pop by itself, which would leave Cruz in a prime position to sweep up his followers and then race to the finish line as the survivor last standing.
Or how about this? What if the Trump bubble does not burst and Cruz maintains good relations with the self-proclaimed great man, and rather than stab each other in the back they unite their forces: President Trump and Vice-President Cruz?
Now that could really get interesting. Scary, but very interesting.