The Corner

Politics & Policy

Donald Trump, Tough Guy

Accepting defeat with his usual grace, Donald Trump took the occasion of his loss in Utah on Tuesday evening . . . to attack Ted Cruz for an anti-Trump ad he had nothing to do with, and to threaten Cruz’s wife:

The offending ad — an online spot that featured an unclad Melania Trump in GQ, circa 2000, underneath the words: “Meet Melania Trump. Your Next First Lady.” — was created by the anti-Trump Make America Awesome PAC, headed by Republican operative Liz Mair. Cruz had nothing to do with it. Naturally, Trump, who either made a mistake or lied, has doubled down.

As campaign dustups go, this one is minor and moronic — but instructive. Over at HotAir, Jazz Shaw chastises many on the right for glossing over the origin of this spat:

Yes, it was wrong for Donald Trump to issue a threat of doing the same to Heidi Cruz, but the original sin here falls on Mair’s doorstep. Would we tolerate this being done to the wives of any of the other GOP candidates? What was Melania’s sin here? She worked as a model and had plenty of pictures of her attractive form published in many outlets. What does that have to do with Trump’s politics, positions and policies? For that matter, what, if anything, does it have to do with Melania’s?

That’s fair. Melania’s past, inasmuch as it is apolitical, is irrelevant to her husband’s bid for office. If you want to discuss Trump’s lack of moral fitness, there are whole constellations of persons and events in Trump’s past that are legitimate fodder, from his affairs to his Mafia ties. Conservatives should focus on actual, substantive arguments against Trump. The Melania ad was a groundless cheap shot.

But that does not let Trump off the hook for his reaction. It’s one thing for a random super PAC to run a lousy ad. It’s another for the frontrunner in the nomination race to respond to that ad by a) lying about his opponent’s involvement in it, and b) extorting his wife. In an unheard-of turn of events, Trump had some moral high ground — and ceded it, offering a riposte that was morally subterranean.

For anyone who has not been paying attention, though, this is who Trump is. He lost, so he lashed out, and he went gratuitously personal — but with the sort of vague insinuations that don’t require proof, but that indulge the conspiratorial inclinations of his basement-dwelling Twitter supporters. Trump has no intention to “spill the beans” about Heidi Cruz, because there are no beans to spill. He’s just a sore loser, and sore losers need to project their loss to feel better about themselves. So on Tuesday, Donald Trump made himself feel better by bullying a woman over Twitter.

What a tough guy.

Update: The Republican frontrunner on Thursday morning:

And his opponent, showing actual class:

 

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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