Trump or Cruz: Who Is the Winning GOP Quarterback?
In the 2016 presidential race, conservatives have split into two camps: Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Supporters snipe from both sides arguing who's liberal or conservative, independent or owned by special interests, pro-amnesty, personally acquainted with God, whatever. Slurs, insults, and innuendos pepper the airwaves as confetti fills the skies over Times Square on New Year's Eve.
As for me, I'm in the Trump camp. At one time, I was for Cruz, but no more. Ted came into the primaries touting his reputation as a fearless fighter, the guy who stands up to the Washington "cartel." Yet his strategy for 99% of the Republican primaries has been to draft Trump – to let The Donald buck the headwinds while Ted reclines in the sweet spot.
In fact, for most of the primary season, Cruz seemingly admired Trump. He showed Trump respect, agreed with everything Trump said, and took the high ground when it came to infighting. Rumors of a bromance between Trump and Cruz flew due to their open friendship.
That was then.
Now, a couple of weeks before Iowa's up, Ted finally pokes his head out. Cruz no longer "respects" Trump and is no longer worried about taking the high ground. Ted wants the nomination, and now that he's safely bypassed the heavy artillery, he's ready to fight for it.
But the fact is, it's too late. Yes, Cruzing behind Trump gave Ted cover, a risk-free strategy that kept Cruz out of the line of fire. But that path also denied Cruz the chance to prove himself. We don't know now if he could have held off the barrage of attacks from the establishment and media because he was missing in action. Meanwhile, Trump was out there, took the hits, fought back, and came out on top.
To use a sports analogy, let's say you're the coach of a football team, the Conservative Patriots. You're picking your team, looking at quarterbacks (QB) at the moment. Flashbacks of past seasons haunt you as you peruse your choices. The Establishment Snakes, Super Bowl champs for the last four seasons, have destroyed every QB you've played. This season will not be at all different, because the Snakes have the same defensive gorillas that have dominated in the past. Your offense is also the same – the same offense that can't keep the Snakes off your QB. You need a miracle.
You size up Ben Carson, a rising star who throws passes with surgical precision, the best in the league. But his responses are slow; he holds the ball too long. You pass.
Next is Marco Rubio – talks a good game but has a reputation for missing practice and throws far too many interceptions.
So you go with Ted Cruz and Donald Trump – Cruz because he's got a good arm and can go long, Trump because he's a solid player. You want to start the season with Cruz because he's proven his value: long passes that hit the mark. But Trump's in your face, begging for a shot.
Fine – you put Trump in a scrimmage game to see what he can do. Trump gets the ball and looks to throw, but no one's open. He tucks the ball under his arm and barrels through the linebackers, runs 20 yards before the Snakes bring him down. He gets hit hard, and the Snakes pile on until Trump completely disappears beneath the pile of bodies. But after the Snakes peel off, Trump jumps back up and gets in position for the next play.
Wow: a dual-threat QB, a superstar. He can run, is lightning-fast, and has a good passing game. You play Trump the next game. Again Trump runs the ball, dodging and weaving through the defense, or he picks a target, passes, and delivers. Trump consistently moves the ball down the field, even scores a touchdown himself by strong-arming his way through the previously impervious defense.
Meanwhile, your 1st-string QB, Ted Cruz, is on the bench. He doesn't complain, even though it should be he out there. You talk to Ted, reassure him you'll put him in next game. But surprisingly, Cruz tells you not to worry about it. Play Trump if you think that's best for the team, he says.
You're confused. Cruz should want in, should be demanding to be played and show his stuff. How can a QB watch the other guy steal his thunder and be okay with that? But secretly, you're relieved. You're impressed with Trump's performance and think he can take you to the playoffs. So you move on. You play Trump exclusively the rest of the season.
Thanks to Trump, the Patriots make it to the playoffs. It's the deciding game against the Snakes, two minutes left on the clock, and Patriots are behind by a field goal. The Patriots receive the kick on the 20-yard line, and Trump fastens his helmet to go in.
But Cruz is also up and fastening his helmet. "Wait," you say and call a time-out. You talk to Cruz, and he says he wants in, says he's the only one who can win the game, the only qualified QB to make the long passes.
You weigh your options. Trump's not a long-ball QB; he either runs the ball himself or goes with short passes, iffy with 80 yards to cover, whereas Cruz is famous for going deep and can make the end zone in two or three passes, can win with that arm, if he gets the chance.
Then painful memories resurface of the 2012 season. Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, all held off by the brutal Snake defense. The Patriot offensive team is no better than last season, when it got clobbered by the Snakes. And Cruz, with the long pass, chances a Snake interception. And the Snakes are famous for snatching the ball.
But for Cruz, the biggest negative is that he hasn't played a single game. You don't know if he can outmaneuver the Snakes, not sure if he's fast enough to avoid a sack. If he can't get free to throw, it's over, and it was all for nothing.
In the end, you go with Trump. Cruz is a great QB but just a QB. He can't push through the Snakes' defense, can't run the ball, fake out his opponents, and score. No QB prior to Trump has been able to do that against the Establishment team. So you keep the guy who's done all the work.
The establishment has destroyed our candidates again and again. If we risk Cruz this late in the game, we're benching the winning QB and leaving the game in the hands of an untested player. We have the ball, and it's our call. Whatever you do, whomever you vote for, don't risk a turnover. It's late in the game, and if we fumble now, it was all for nothing. So put in your best quarterback, then get in formation. The clock's running.
"Red 16! Red 16! Hut! Hut! Hike!"