By Wes Vernon
Number 1…This column does not endorse anyone in presidential primary races.
Number 2…Anything written during the primary season does not constitute an endorsement or rejection of any candidate for the nomination.
Thirdly…However, during primary battles, we do reserve the right to comment on candidate triumphs and failures. Further, once the nominations are secured and the general election campaign is on, we make no bones about our preferences.
And the point is?
When Ted Cruz called out Donald Trump for his “New York values,” Trump – an unabashed New Yorker – dispatched the Texas senator into negative territory.
At least that’s the way it appeared at first. Shortly afterward, another side of the story emerged.
A gaffe, Donald?
The Wall Street Journal – normally conservative on almost every issue except immigration – had been pounding Mr. Trump almost since his entry into the 2016 GOP sweepstakes. He was a demagogue, they argued, a master of the populist cheap shot, with some very un-Republican political baggage, no consistent philosophy, etc.
But during the debate, as Senator Cruz chided his Manhattan rival for embodying “New York Values,” the Donald responded with an uncharacteristic degree of softness: “When the Trade Center came down [on 9/11], I saw something no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York,” he said.
A gaffe, Ted?
Suddenly, there emerged a side of the famed author of The Art of the Deal that the WSJ editorial writers claimed they had never seen before. They pronounced the Donald a winner of that round, and warned that both men need to realize they need to reach beyond the GOP base to win in November.
The Journal then concluded, “The New York values exchange suggests that Mr. Trump understands the task better than Mr. Cruz does.”
A knockout debate punch? Which one?
Of course, no one ever gets the last word on the quest for the “Grand Prize.”
In the intervening days, Mr. Cruz and his backers have unearthed a 1999 TV interview with Mr. Trump; the late Tim Russert was the interrogator.
In that Q&A, the billionaire Manhattan developer acknowledged that while he hadn’t given the matter a lot of thought, he probably had a different view on such issues as gay marriage than someone “from Iowa,” due to his New York values. The same laissez-faire attitude applied to abortion and other socially liberal stands. But then at that time, he was not seeking the presidency, let alone the approval of Iowa caucus participants.
So what are “New York values”?
It has been said that while no one can really understand this country without spending some time in New York City, it is just as important to understand that New York City is not representative of the rest of the country.
One can fault New York City for electing a pro-Marxist mayor, and some will point to Mayor DeBlasio’s ascent to Gracie Square mansion as verifying a 20th century anti-New York attitude, wherein the city was seen – not always accurately – as the seat of unwarranted financial clout. For…