Trump the bully hits a wall in Ted Cruz

Like all accomplished bullies, Trump understands that the real target is his opponent’s honor. Obeying the maxim that you haven’t gone far enough until you’ve gone too far, Trump slagged Bush’s wife last July, using Twitter to post a quotation from a tweet that said Bush “has to like Mexican Illegals because of his wife.” Trump deleted the tweet, which implied that Columba Bush was not in the country legally. Bush took personal umbrage over the tweet, which was deleted 24 hours after it was posted. “He’s doing this to inflame and incite and to draw attention,” Bush sputtered in the manner of someone whose honor has been wounded. The point of Trump’s tweet was to lure Bush into defending Columba, his Spanish-speaking wife and the mother of his three children, thereby boxing him in as conflicted over immigration. It was a brilliant bully move.

When discussing the art of the verbal bully, you really can’t spend too much time on honor. The bully undermines his foes by stripping them of whatever esteem, standing and face they may have acquired. When a man’s mother, wife or daughter is disparaged in most cultures, he must defend her honor or risk losing his manliness. This prompted only more Bush sputtering that Trump must apologize to Columba; Trump’s resopnse (“I won’t apologize, I didn’t do anything wrong”) sliced Bush’s cojones right out of his trousers…

Nobody would ever mistake Ted Cruz for John Williams. No Adonis, he looks like a broken-nosed character actor in a film noir. He even whines when he talks. But inside his own head, Cruz is John Williams. He has been polishing the Cruz act for his entire life, making himself a perfectly smooth, unchanging object upon which no New York bully can get a grip. Although Trump may have bested Cruz on several topics in last night’s presidential debate as they fought toe-to-toe for the first time, the mogul seems unable to get under Cruz’s skin the way he has with Bush, Carson, Rand Paul (ridiculing him for being short, just 5’8”!), and the other candidates.