- - Thursday, February 4, 2016

When a man’s logic rests on the decorum and magnanimity of Donald Trump, you probably want to stop following his trail of bread crumbs before total and complete madness sets in.

For no sooner had Ted Cruz declared victory in the Iowa Caucuses than Charles Hurt took to these very pages on Tuesday and claimed Mr. Trump to be the real winner despite the fact he didn’t win. Because, you know, Donald is so nice and all.

“Donald Trump had the last laugh when he walked out on the stage to deliver his concession speech,” Mr. Hurt claimed. “For weeks and months we have been told that Mr. Trump cannot handle losing. His entire campaign is built around winning every time. And if he loses Iowa, we were told again and again and again, Mr. Trump would fall apart. The first chink in his armor would utterly crumple him to the ground. Only, instead, Mr. Trump came out with his family and delivered a wonderfully gracious and funny and hopeful concession speech and told his supporters how honored he was to come in second place in Iowa.”

Well, as everyone except Mr. Hurt could have guessed, hope has failed to spring eternal from Mr. Trump. In fact, it didn’t last more than a few hours. Mr. Trump’s Twitter timeline reverted to standard form and has included such choice nuggets of lunacy this week as “Iowa is meaningless,” “a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified,” and “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it.”

So, nice try, Trump apologists. Your rationalizing for Mr. Trump turned out to be about as reliable as the 13 straight pre-Iowa caucus polls that had Mr. Trump winning my state.

Like, for instance, when Mr. Hurt insists that Mr. Cruz will not be the 2016 Republican nominee for president because previous Iowa caucus winners Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum couldn’t seal the deal.

For starters, it wasn’t those two men who lost the White House. That honor would go to establishment squishes John McCain and Mitt Romney. Otherwise known as the losers all the allegedly smart people told us were “the most electable.” Yet there is still a another mistake to point out in Mr. Hurt’s desperate meanderings. His assessment that Messrs. Huckabee and Santorum were unable to convert their Iowa victories into “any kind of groundswell of support” outside of Iowa is nothing short of bunk.

Those men turned what were admittedly “Iowa or bust” campaigns into a launching pad for winning eight and 11 states, respectively, before dropping out of the race. Not too shabby for starting out as nobodies. Which, by the way, is more states than the zero Mr. Trump has won thus far. Now imagine they had amassed more cash on hand than the Republican National Committee has in its own war chest at the moment — which Mr. Cruz has done. Imagine they had come out of Iowa with more cash on hand than most of their competitors combined, which Mr. Cruz currently has.

Imagine they had not only built a comprehensive get-out-the-vote ground game in Iowa – a ground game that overcame an increase of 60,000 voters from four years ago that almost everyone thought would benefit Mr. Trump — but in all of the states that will dominate the early primary calendar.

Imagine that they had been taking bus trips through and attending religious liberty rallies in southern Super Tuesday states like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia since last August – states that will be pivotal in determining the GOP nominee.

Now stop imagining, because Ted Cruz has done all of those things. Whereas Messrs. Huckabee and Santorum never stopped playing catch-up while conducting their long-shot campaigns, Mr. Cruz has shown he is the alpha and the omega when it comes to campaign organization, fundraising and conservative messaging.

Mr. Hurt somehow calls that the “same playbook deployed in the caucuses won by his predecessors.”

He’s wrong. Just like the 13 consecutive polls leading up to the Iowa caucuses that had Mr. Trump winning were wrong as well. Oh, wait, did I say that again. Forgive me, it’s fun kicking bullies like Mr. Trump in this shins. Something tells me had Mr. Trump won my state, Mr. Hurt would be welcoming we hayseeds into his own personal enlightenment.

Speaking of alphas and omegas, what really seems to bug Mr. Hurt about Mr. Cruz is that he has the same faith in an all-powerful God as the men who pledged “their lives, fortunes, and sacred honors” to establish these United States. Often appealing to “providence” for divine help to make it so.

“Ick,” said Mr. Hurt concerning Mr. Cruz “shamelessly and overtly deploy(ing) his religious faith as a guiding — perhaps overriding — reason for electing him,” “literally quoting scripture during his campaign events” and “directing his supporters to ‘awaken the body of Christ.’ “

To which I say, take it up with the Founding Fathers. Michael Novak’s book “On Two Wings” has documented the exhaustive historical research by constitutional scholars and political historians, who assembled 15,000 writings from the men who breathed our nation into existence. In those writings were counted 3,154 citations, the largest number of which came not from Montesquieu or Blackstone or Locke but from the Bible — which was quoted 34 percent of the time and nearly four times more than the closest philosopher.

In short, scoreboard.

And where I come from here in Iowa we have a saying — “there’s no argument scoreboard doesn’t win.”

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