It’s time to Break It Down!
I never doubted last night would come. I have suggested for months that the assorted efforts to deny Donald J. Trump the Republican nomination for President, some by Party heavy-weights, others by Party mavens from GOP Christmas’ past, and most by the 15 other men and one woman who challenged him for the mantel of Party Leadership would all in time come to naught. Last night was zero hour of D-Day for the obliteration of the Never Trump Movement, the bewitching hour for what in effect amounted to the Lose with Cruz Circus, and most importantly, the dawn of the age of Trump as the quintessential Leader and mouthpiece of the modern day Republican Party. To Quote Drake (a Canadian, in honor of Ted Cruz) and Future, “What a Time to be Alive!”
Mr. Trump spent fourteen years as the executive producer and host of the NBC reality show The Apprentice. He has spent the last eleven months honing and aligning his business and entertainment-centered shtick to politics. Today marks the first day of the rest of his political life. Welcome the Twilight Zone of American politics.
Despite my certainty that today would arrive, I was not necessarily looking for it just yet. I gave some thought as I sat down to write about focusing on #WHCD, better known as the White House Correspondents Dinner. President Obama did his usual superlative job as he put his cool, refined, and well-timed comedic chops on display in that annual format one last time. Most frequent watchers of the event conceded, of his eight cuts at the mic, Saturday night was not at the top of the list, and yet, at least from my point of view, he still slayed.
Of course if POTUS’s comedic barbs were more pointed, potent, and targeted than those of the featured comedian, Larry Wilmore, host of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Mr. Wilmore still managed to create the evening’s seminal moment…that thing which viewers were talking about the next day, and the next, and the day after that. In wrapping up his commentary, he recalled a time when he was growing up and the poignant question was “Could a black quarterback lead an NFL Football Team?” Then he pivoted to today, when a black man is the leader of the free world. Well-played.
The duality captured in those two very personal memories, juxtaposed against one another might have made for the perfect ending. In fact, a lot of Mr. Wilmore’s critics wish he had done exactly that and stopped right there. Instead he made a fleeting reference to “keeping it 100” (AKA the current vernacular for “keeping in real”), and then declared speaking directly to POTUS, “Yo Barry, you did it my…followed by a variation of the N-word…you did it!”
The Twitterverse lost its collective mind. Immediately! Many people whose opinions I respect skewered Wilmore. In general, they contended it was disrespectful of the man and of the office. They argued that and much more. I should add all the folks to whom I am referring were black. As is customary, when the N-word pops up on the radar, particularly when uttered by a person of color, black folks tend to dutifully police our own. That is not to suggest white folks did not weigh in; they did. Rather, for the purpose of formulating, reviewing, and assessing “my” opinion, I choose to address the various centers of black thought on the subject.
The topic is rife with possibilities, but there are really only two or three key points from Saturday night. First, to borrow a phrase from the political discourse, there is the Never N-word contingent. This group believes the word should be buried (the NAACP actually did that years ago, but the term had its own Easter and folks resurrected it…probably in three minutes in stead of three days), and never used again. Alternately, the Term of Endearment crew is the group that most frequently challenges the Never N-word contingent. Folks in this set believe the N-word can and possibly even should be used…in its proper context, which of course is to convey affection…or endearment. Finally, as it relates to Saturday night, the President, White House correspondents, and a national TV audience, there are those who believe, even as a term of affection and/or endearment, the high profile nature of the event certainly precluded referring to the President of the United States in that way.
My take on this is fairly simple and direct. The #WHCD features a comedian in the cleanup spot. Comedians who get the opportunity to land that gig endeavor to touch a lot of bases, but no matter who is President, of what Party he (so far) is affiliated with, they make every effort to be edgy. If you saw the show you know at the end of his remarks, President Obama dropped the mic. It was a fitting gesture for his last go-round after eight years. Well, whether you like it or not, Wilmore, in what amounted to his benediction, closed out the evening with an affectionate tribute to the President, while simultaneously ensuring that parishioners (attendees and the TV audience) would be discussing his message long after the service (show) ended. Was it a hokey (or should I say Trump-like) grab for ratings via controversy? Probably. Did it minimize or otherwise divest the Leader of the Free World of any power, prestige, or cash in hand? I certainly don’t think so. Did President Obama handle it just as nimbly as he did his own witty remarks? Yes he did. That’s enough for me. As they say in gymnastics, Mr. Wilmore “stuck the landing.”
Back to GOP politics, the suspense ended early last night. By 7:30 p.m. CNN had declared Donald Trump the winner in Indiana, yesterday’s sole contest. Before 9:00 p.m. Senator Ted Cruz raised the white flag of capitulation using these words:
“We left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we’ve got but the voters chose another path. So with a heavy heart but with boundless optimism for the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign.”
The dominoes continued falling after that…quickly. By 9:05 p.m. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted that Trump would be deemed the presumptive nominee:
Shortly after that it was Trump time. He admitted that he did no expect the turn of events to happen last night. Nevertheless, he managed to get through, what amounted for him, a short victory speech. In it he attempted to make his first effort to unite the Party, praising Cruz as, “one tough competitor, a smart tough guy.” That might even be viewed as an opening to invite an endorsement from the Texas Senator. Of course given Trump’s scurrilous attacks on Cruz’s wife, and as late as yesterday, his father, the question of a Cruz endorsement of Trump may remain an open one, indefinitely.
The man of the hour wasted no time in pivoting to Hillary Clinton, however. He said she would be a “poor President,” doesn’t understand trade, and he lamented the “deep carnage” wrought by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), ratified during the Bill Clinton presidency.
The anti-Trump movement, despite the sentiment expressed in Chairman Priebus’ tweet, served notice that it was still alive, even if on life support. Katie Packer of Our Principles PAC had this to say:
“There is still time for Trump to continue to disqualify himself in the eyes of voters. We continue to give voice to the belief of so many Republicans that Trump is not a conservative, does not represent the values of the Republican Party, cannot beat Hillary Clinton, and is simply unfit to be President of the United States.”
Down the Primary ballot, Governor Kasich said he’s not leaving the race. John Weaver, his chief strategist, said:
“Tonight’s results are not going to alter Gov. Kasich’s campaign plans. Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention.”
With the already ineffective resistance softening even more, it is all but a certainty that Donald Trump will obtain the requisite 1,237 Delegates. By 9:30 p.m. (Eastern) last night, Trump had been assured of 51 of Indiana’s 57 Delegates. With 97% of the votes counted, Trump led with 53.3%, followed by Cruz at 36.7%, and Kasich with 7.5%. That pushes Trump’s total to 1053, or framed differently, 184 from the goal. With only Kasich, who is effectively running fourth in a two-man race (behind two former candidates, Cruz and Rubio), and token opposition from anti-Trump groups between him and the 1,237, and with the RNC finally solidly in his corner, Trump is all but home free. No surprise here. “The People (of the GOP) Have Spoken: Donald Trumps The Field!”
I’m done; holla back!
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