After roughly 622 months of primary campaigning, including 12,035 stump speeches and 1,271 debates, our distinguished field of presidential hopefuls finally faced the voters of Iowa this week, and the results sadly did little to sharpen the picture of who will be taking the oath of office next January.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders split the vote — actually a caucus, whatever that means — almost literally 50/50, with Clinton taking 49.8% and Sanders 49.6%. (Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley had the remaining 0.6% for about half an hour before a seventh grader took it from him, along with his lunch money.)
There was a bit of a surprise on the Republican end of things: billionaire and sentient lump of spray-tanned cotton candy Donald Trump, who has led the field since the moment he descended his gold-plated escalator and became the first presidential hopeful to announce his candidacy while talking out of his ass, came in second place.
Just last week Trump seemed to be bulletproof. After six full months of making statements so outrageous they bordered on performance art and watching his poll numbers climb ever higher for the effort, Trump skipped the last debate in Iowa and still remained the frontrunner. For months it has seemed that there is nothing he can do to lose the section of the electorate that identifies with his xenophobia, casual racism, blatant misogyny, and denial of pattern baldness, so there are those who are taking great comfort in his disappointing finish. Some thought his hubris in skipping the debate was the straw that broke the camel’s back, that he finally pushed the Republican electorate too far, that he can’t recover.
The last two Iowa Caucus winners were Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Iowa Republicans always go for the churchiest candidate. The fact that Trump, who couldn’t tell a Bible verse from Penthouse Forum, only lost by three points — particularly considering that even he admits he had no ground game in Iowa and spent almost nothing on advertising — suggests that his appeal is wide enough among Republicans that a lot of them are even willing to overlook his obvious lip service to the Bible. That makes Trump look more electable overall, not less.
One thing we did learn from Monday’s vote: the media and the Republican establishment are all-in for Marco Rubio. Despite finishing third, as he had long been predicted to do, Rubio got nearly all the press coming out of Iowa, as though it were a Reagan ’84 landslide. Rubio may or may not end up being his party’s nominee, but it’s clear that the so-called Liberal Media is going to do everything it can to help him. What is it about Rubio that has won him the favor of the elites? Some think it’s his flexible stance on immigration, others his steadfast pro-life status. But what really sets Rubio apart is that, unlike any of the other GOP candidates, you might actually fuck him if he were the last man on Earth.
As for Monday’s winner, Texas Senator and melting wax figure Ted Cruz, there is no need to worry that his victory indicates any newfound strength with the electorate. Iowa Republicans go for the churchiest candidate, and Cruz, who has publicly stated that he is a Christian first, an American second, a conservative third, and a Republican fourth, was a shoo-in. The only real surprise about this result is how many votes Trump took from Cruz, not the other way around.
Don’t spend a moment worrying that Ted Cruz is coming anywhere near the button. The Iowa Caucuses are meaningless, particularly for Republicans, because Americans like our presidents churchy, but not that churchy.
But that is only a small part of the bigger problem for Ted Cruz. It is a problem he cannot overcome. I wrote about this problem back in March 2015, when Cruz became the first to officially enter the race:
We don’t have anything to fear from Ted Cruz. He will not be president. He will not be the Republican nominee. He will not be the running mate for whoever is the nominee. He will not even be able to parlay this doomed campaign into a job on Fox News, as so many failed candidates have before him. And it’s not because of his extreme views on climate change, or Iran, or women’s rights, or the IRS, or anything else.
It’s because Ted Cruz is fucking creepy.
Everyone seems to be dancing around it, calling him “unlikable” and “uncompromising” and “extreme.” All of that is true, but it is all subordinate to Ted Cruz’s defining characteristic, which is “being fucking creepy.”
Think about it: have we ever had a creepy president? We have had presidents we disliked, wherever we fall on the political spectrum, but we’ve never had one that qualified as creepy, unless you count the sweaty, paranoid Richard Nixon, but he was more pathetic than creepy, and either way Ted Cruz makes him look like George Clooney.
Can you even imagine having Ted Cruz on the front page of the newspaper every day for four to eight years? Or hearing his voice on the radio every day? Or giving press conferences? The State of the Union? Because I can’t.
Ted Cruz will not, cannot be president because, let’s be honest, he looks and sounds like a child molester. I am not suggesting that he actually is a child molester. I have no way of knowing something like that and would never accuse anyone of anything so horrible without evidence.
But I am saying that if I was making a movie and needed to cast a child molester, Ted Cruz would be my first choice. Would I put him in like a tattered clown suit? Maybe a mechanic’s overalls? A stained T-shirt and cardigan? Or just keep him in the suit-and-flag-pin combo he currently favors? That’s the beauty of casting Ted Cruz: He would be a plausible child molester in any outfit you put on him.
You have to admit, the math holds up. As the campaign has gone on, Cruz has only gotten creepier. As stilted and horrifying and molestery as his rehearsed public appearances have been, candid Cruz is even worse. A few weeks ago the excruciating unedited raw footage from a Cruz TV ad surfaced on the Internet, and the world begged to unsee Cruz berating his mother to get it together for the cameras.
That was bad enough. But then just a couple of days ago someone with a higher tolerance for awkward than I uploaded this:
My wife and I disagree whether the fact that this poor squirming girl is in fact Cruz’s daughter makes it creepier, or THE CREEPIEST.
I only became aware of Ted Cruz in 2013, when he led a futile and pointless government shutdown over funding the Affordable Care Act. But even then, something seemed familiar about him and I could never quite put my finger on it. It came to me this week like a bolt from the blue: