‘New York Values’: Cruz’s Strategic Play Against Trump

After the GOP debate last Thursday night the big issue was “New York Values” and the next day it looked like New Yorker Donald Trump had dealt with the issue by invoking the shades of the fallen 9/11 heroes.

But now it all comes clear to me. “New York Values” is how Ted Cruz intends to take the air out of Donald Trump’s balloon. It’s obviously a strategic decision that the Cruz campaign has thought long and hard about. They intend to flood the airways with negative ads showing that Donald Trump is, at heart, just a New York liberal with an unusual haircut and a great reality show.

Yes, you say, but these negative ads from Cruz will just make the Trumpers angry. That’s true, but the purpose of negative ads is not primarily to change minds but to drive down the morale and the turnout for the opposition. And that’s how the barrage of New York Values negative ads will work. Sure, they will make the Trumpers angry. Don’t you get angry when the liberals run negative ads against Republicans on your conservative talk radio station? But the ads will also drive down the enthusiasm of the Trumpers; they will sow tiny seeds of doubt. They will drive down the turnout of the Trumpers. The only question is: how much?

You can see, from Ted Cruz’s Friday phone-ins on the day after the debate, that there’s also a positive side to the New York Values meme. Talking to Sean Hannity and others on the first day of his apology tour, Ted Cruz hit the heads of the nails he will be driving in over the next month.

I apologize to the millions of New Yorkers who have been let down by liberal politicians in that state.

I apologize to the hard working men and women of the state of New York who have been denied jobs because Governor Cuomo won’t allow fracking…

I apologize to all the pro-life and pro-marriage and pro-second amendment New Yorkers who were told by Governor Cuomo that they have no place in New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

I apologize to all the small businesses who have been driven out of New York city by crushing taxes and regulations.

I apologize to the millions of unborn children, many African-American and Hispanic, whose lives have been taken by politicians who relentlessly promote abortion on demand with no limitations.

I apologize to all of the African-American children who Mayor de Blasio tried to throw out of their charter schools that were providing a lifeline to the American Dream.

That reads pretty clear to me. Everything that comes out of elite liberal New York goes against the interests of ordinary people who just want a decent job and a decent education for their children. So vote for Cruz if you want a decent job for yourself and a decent education for your children.

“Hope and Change,” cried Obama in 2008. “New York Values” is Ted Cruz’s cry in 2016. Nothing new here. Back in Victorian England, Disraeli had political operatives Taper and Tadpole demand “What is our cry?” in his novel Coningsby. The cry of New York Values works two ways. On the positive side it asserts that Cruz has fought for conservative values all his life against the corrupt Washington cabal. On the negative side Ted just happens to have a whole library of Trump quotes to show that the Donald is really just a squishy liberal crony capitalist whose real talent is sucking up to the liberal elite.

But will it work? Nobody knows -- that’s why we have elections. It’s obvious that the Cruz horse stumbled out of the starting gate on Thursday. Not good. But the first rule of German strategic thinking is that ΅no battle plan survives contact with the enemy,” and the lesson of Helmut von Moltke’s three wars of German unification from 1862 to 1870 is that when you get the strategy right the tactical mistakes often take care of themselves.

We will find out over the next month which campaign has done its strategy right and got the right resources in the right place at the right time.

But here’s something for you Cruz campaign hotshots to worry about. Around the cardio machines at my gym on Saturday morning the ladies were discussing the Cruz birther issue. These are 40-ish women and show up at the gym every Saturday morning. I have never heard them discuss politics before. On the one hand, this is good. Ordinary nonpolitical people are getting engaged in the election. On the other hand it is an alarm bell for the Cruz campaign. Hello Ted: you and your guys better figure out how to starve this birther issue before people start talking about The Little Shop of Horrors.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.