Not that I know what the word really means, but because we spent an entire week discussing this Yiddish slang word uttered by Donald Trump, it evidently connotes what happened during last night’s debate.
For the past 7 months, everyone has been saying that Donald Trump has finally met his demise, only to be proven spectacularly wrong. The reason they were wrong time and time again is simple: the other candidates and the moderators always attacked Trump from the left, particularly on immigration. Instead of hurting him, it always fueled Trump’s appeal. Americans are tired of being lectured to on the issue of immigration, and Trump was speaking to where most voters are at this point.
But as I noted earlier this week, nobody has really attacked Trump from the right and exposed his lack of command of both the Constitution and conservative values. Cruz finally did that last night and Trump was left sputtering. He was lacking any good comeback lines for the first time in the race. He was diminished to defending New York values. Cruz turned the tables on him by looking like the macho, anti-PC crusader, while Trump went all emotional with his non-sequitur about 9/11. He was also caught promoting a left-wing law professor. Trump even used the “on the soil” argument for citizenship, which ironically is the left-wing version of birthright citizenship that is used to justify anchor babies – the very issue through which Trump gained initial prominence for opposing. He played into Cruz’s caricature of him perfectly.
Had the debate ended here, it wouldn’t surprise me if Cruz went on to catch Trump in the national polls. And I still believe, on net, Cruz will benefit more than anybody else. But Trump came roaring back in the second half of the debate. Much like the earlier debates, Trump got asked questions about immigration and was delivered the gift that keeps giving – the straw man of Jeb Bush attacking him from the left on the issue. Between immigration, trade, and the presentation of his business career, Trump resurrected the version of himself that much of the voters clearly have come to love.
The only problem for Trump, however, is that many people watched only the first half of the debate. Moreover, his opponent is not Jeb Bush. Bush is irrelevant at this point in the race. His opponent is Cruz, and many Trump supporters will now see a viable alternative who is speaking to their anger.
The challenge for Trump headed out of this debate is to keep up the persona he exhibited in the second hour and stay on message as a conservative, especially on the issue of immigration. But if he is going to continue to make his closing argument about being insulted by Cruz’s taunt of “New York values,” he’s making a colossal mistake. Some of the elite conservative media might feel insulted by Cruz’s comments, but they need to learn that the center of gravity for conservative voters is in the South and the West, and very much anchored in rural culture. There are very few primary voters who will agree with Trump on this exchange. He is needlessly allowing Cruz to get to his “right” and paint him as a Manhattan liberal.
On another note, the true winner of the debate is Maria Bartiromo. Who would have thought we’d live to see a time when a moderator would actually ask the questions about Muslim immigration (100,000 green cards a year) and the broad question of mass migration. Jeff Sessions loomed large at the debate.
Unfortunately, all of the candidates dodged the question in some manner. They all seemed to feel comfortable parlaying the issue exclusively into national security and the question of “vetting” but refused to discuss the general cultural problems with mass migration and the influx of Sharia-adherent immigrants, in particular. This is about a lot more than ISIS. We’ve had the cultural and security concerns that arise from mass migration and the radicalization of Muslim immigrants long before 2013.
The moderators also deserve credit for finally discussing the rise in crime. Once again, this was a missed opportunity for several of the candidates to bring up the get-out-of-jail free agenda and distinguish themselves from the Washington group think on criminal justice.
On a final note, the conservative media will make a big deal of Marco Rubio, but ultimately he is still not speaking to where voters’ hearts lie at this juncture. And worse for him, Chris Christie continues to gain prominence and this debate will only continue the perfect establishment chaos that is preventing Rubio from making this a three-man race.
On net, this debate will only secure the status quo as a two-man race, albeit Cruz will likely gain on Trump in the coming days.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.