Inquiring minds want to know: have we reached Peak Trump? Most of the polls told us that Trump would cruise to victory in Iowa. Instead, Cruz did the cruising, not only precipitating the largest turnout in history (186,000 votes; the previous record was 122,000), but also achieving that record after frankly opposing ethanol subsidies, a fuel that (so the pundits told us) was absolutely indispensable to victory in the Hawkeye State.
Except that it wasn’t. Once upon a time, Trump had been opposed to ethanol subsidies, until political expediency convinced him to join the “I love ethanol” bandwagon. But then, Trump’s record has shown that he will say anything at any time to anyone if he thinks it will benefit him.
For his part, Rubio declared himself in favor of ethanol subsidies “for seven years” (that should hold ’em). The pandering of the Republican cohort over the issue of ethanol subsidies was nauseating (the Dems didn’t quite rise to that level of pandering), but Cruz was the only one who stuck to his free-market guns. The ethanol subsidy is a classic government boondoggle: bad for everyone and everything (even the environment, which it was supposed to help). It even hurts the farmers getting the government checks, because it lures them into a cycle of dependency and so robs them of their independence.
So what’s next? All the polls I’ve seen put Trump way ahead in New Hampshire, where the world will descend on February 9 to gape and ogle before decamping for points south until the cycle starts again in four years. But now that the game is really afoot, has Donald Trump peaked?
I suspect it will be uphill work for Cruz in New Hampshire. The Granite State, saddled with its own migrant invasion — not from Syria, but from Massachusetts — and other casualties of the liberal agenda, has gone from fierce independence to pajama-boy feminization over the last couple of decades. Liberals fled to New Hampshire on account of its low taxes, and then demanded all the government services and nanny-state interventions that had transformed their home states into high-tax, low productivity basket cases. Even as I write, the state motto is being revised from “Live Free or Die” to “Give Free or Die.” (I’m not sure that’s quite official yet, but it’s already true in fact.)
How will the Donald Trump circus play in New Hampshire? He was belligerently boisterous when asked: “My brand is doing great,” he insisted.
His “brand?” The term is apt, for “brand” is precisely what Trump has, and it’s all he has. To appreciate what that means, ask yourself if James Madison or Abraham Lincoln or FDR or Ronald Reagan would have said any such thing about themselves. Donald Trump has starred in a reality TV show. Now he wants to move it to a bigger stage. It’s entertaining, after a fashion, but just how seriously will the American people, even the overbred snowflakes who now huddle together in New Hampshire, take him? “The crowd roared,” a story in the Washington Post reported, “when he cursed as he pledged to aggressively target Islamic State terrorists. ‘If we are attacked, somebody attacks us, wouldn’t you rather have Trump as president if we’re attacked?’ he asked. ‘We’ll beat the [expletive] out of them.'”
Query: Would you rather have Trump as president if we’re attacked? Think about that for a moment before responding. Would you like to have Donald Trump in the White House, Donald Trump as commander-in-chief, Donald Trump with his finger on the nuclear trigger if the United States were attacked?
I hope the denizens of New Hampshire will ask themselves that before February 9. For myself, I prefer a man who tells the truth and does what he promises. In my judgment, the only plausible candidate of whom those two desiderata can be advanced is Ted Cruz. New England, having been traduced by decades of liberal misrule, is not an environment conducive to plain speaking or to Cruz’s agenda of liberty, limited government, and self-reliance. But the polls were badly wrong in Iowa; perhaps they will be in New Hampshire as well.