You know what?   We have a certain amount of sympathy for the Donald.

Here’s a man who never in his life had to work terribly hard.  He was bright and intuitive.  A great talker.   A guy who actually had “the common touch,” which is to say he could talk to, or with, anyone.  A great deal-maker.

He was a fairly happy man, a serial womanizer, perhaps, but also, as it turns out, not a bad father.  He may have skirted legality a few times as he dealt with his business competitors, but his instincts were  nearly infallible.  He knew when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.   He was, and may still be, “the Great Pretender.”   He managed to keep not only his business opponents guessing and on the defensive, but also most of the nation to which he turned his attention every so often  – guessing yet entertained.

Amazingly, underneath a shell made of glitz and rat-packiness, there dwelt in his subconscious the tenets of America the Beautiful.   He believed in the American dream – for others, let’s be clear.  For himself, he’d been handed it.   Right was right, if not in business then at least at home.   Like millions of others, he believed that if one worked hard enough, one might see one’s children grow up to be President.

All you had to do was get elected.

For a man with the Donald’s connections and history, how remarkable it was that he really and truly believed in America’s principal road to Providence.

It’s not that he believed rules applied to other people and not himself.   He believed that whatever the rules were, they applied to everyone.   In the realm of ‘It’s not who you are but who you know,’ Donald collected pals, cronies, acquaintances.   He knew who he was, and he was sure of who others were and what destiny they might help him acquire.

All he had to do was get elected.

Well, reality upended whatever solid citizenship Donald espoused.

Which is why he’s so unhappy now.  The rules don’t apply.  He never suspected.   He spent his life believing that if he followed what he had been taught, in the end he would get what he wanted.

Just as Donald Trump termed his Republican opponents “children,” so in fact was he.  Is he.   We’re grateful it wasn’t us who had to tell him this, but we’re sorry he learned this final lesson the hard way – embarrassed, red-faced, racing around the country and crowing about his success futilely as his emotional resources were drained.   True enough, there may have been a Fascist in hiding on his airplane, but basically a kind one.  One who apparently didn’t read, or whose staff couldn’t.

Unlike the man who once again dragged his daughters and his wife up onto the stage with Anderson Cooper on CNN Wednesday night last to woo viewers into his camp.   As part of his charm offensive, Ted Cruz has lowered his volume, likes to tell little jokes, speaks earnestly and without blinking.

Question: his older daughter is eight.  Can there be any doubt in our minds that her name, ”Caroline,” is anything other than part of a plan that seems to have been devised at her birth?

Both the old and new Ted were on view with Cooper who threw mostly big, fat softballs at Cruz, and his wife, Heidi.  And of course he flirted with the girls.

Not right away, though.  Cooper made a stab at pinning Cruz down.  But he was up against the old Ted when he did.

It seems Cruz’s campaign sent a fund-raising letter, promising recipients that for $35 dollars they would be named “deputy delegates.”  Didn’t this, asked Anderson Cooper, imply that anyone who sent $35 to the Cruz campaign was welcome to come to the Republican convention in Cleveland in a more-or-less official capacity, and wasn’t that promising a lot, fostering hopes that couldn’t be met?

“That was just fund-raising,” replied Honest Ted, rushing on to another topic.

“But isn’t that unfair?” Cooper asked.   “Dishonest?”

Ted laughed off this second shot as easily as the first, and memories of what he had done to Ben Carson in Iowa flooded our mind.  The guy is a weasel.

The following night, with Chuck Todd on MSNBC, the human side of Cruz was still on show.  Cruz was charming and direct, ostensibly concerned with the answers to attendees’ questions.   He did everything but recite the Boy Scouts’ motto.

You know what?  It all worked.  We mean Cruz is GOOD at what he does.  He’s clearly intelligent and experienced at getting round roadblocks, far faster mentally than his questioners, and way out front of his staff.  We, as viewers, and despite our instinctive recoil from this Texas gila monster, could feel Ted making headway into the oft-cited “hearts and minds” of the crowd to which he spoke.

The clear drift towards Fascism was missing, or at least toned down.  He “sounded” reasonably fluid.  Hard edges had been sanded and as a seducer, he has a real career ahead of him.  He was full of what, to him, made “common sense,”;  he  praised his opponents and once more fell over himself describing how wonderful his “friend” Marco Rubio is.  He even had time to get sentimental, retailing stories of his children being loving and considerate of each other.  If he had gone on much longer, he might even have teared up to remember how Caroline spoke to Catherine in Heidi’s womb.

We continue to maintain that every word Ted Cruz utters is false, including the “the-s” and the “and-s.”  But wow, can he turn on a dime and morph into another animal entirely.

Alas, Donald can’t.  He’s Donald, plain and simple.   While Ted is a triple agent, a Shakespearean, Iago, a snake.   This is not a contest made in heaven.

Or maybe it is.

I’m John Neufeld



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