Donald Trump, the man who fell to earth

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Times Union Center on Monday

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Times Union Center on Monday

    Boo hoo hoo. Listen to him whine.

    Donald Trump is apparently shocked to learn that he cannot surf to the Republican nomination on a wave of moronic one-liners. With Ted Cruz cleaning his clock at the grassroots level — snatching delegates in Colorado, Indiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Georgia, and Lousiana — the aspiring tinpot despot has been reduced to hapless fuming. On Fox News yesterday, he was particularly incensed by Cruz’s successful weekend sweep of all 34 delegates at the Colorado state convention. In Trump’s words, it was “a crooked deal.”

    He’s very upset that Cruz has a far better ground game, that Cruz is working all the arcane delegate rules, that Cruz is lining up delegates who will likely dump Trump if the national convention goes to multiple ballots. Trump ran to Twitter to complain that is all “totally unfair,” and proof of a “Bad System!”

    Actually, it’s just further proof (as if we needed it) that Trump is a bad candidate, the weakest Republican frontrunner in the modern era. You can’t close the deal for a major party nomination by improvising infauxtainment; you can’t unite a party by dragging your knuckles like an Internet troll. You can’t simply fly by the seat of your pants, because eventually you will fall to earth.

    Remember Isaac Newton’s third law of motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Trump has won roughly 37 percent of the Republican votes, but everyone else is working to stop him. They rightly realize that a guy who’s viewed negatively by 70 percent of married women — married women, for Pete’s sake! the majority of whom always vote Republican! — would be their most disastrous candidate since landslide loser Barry Goldwater. Say what you will about Ted Cruz (don’t get me started), but one thing is clear: He’s picking Trump’s pocket where it counts, down at the local level.

    Trump doesn’t like the “bad system,” he says it’s “corrupt” as well as “unfair.” But that’s only because — unlike Cruz — he never bothered to create the requisite ground game to work the system, to take full advantage of the rules. Colorado is a perfect example. Republicans there announced last summer that their delegates would be chosen at a state convention. Cruz’s nascent campaign team paid attention. Trump’s team (which basically consisted of him) did not.

    The delegate hunt is an arcane game, and a bit boring to explain — especially when they’re chosen via a state convention, as opposed to a primary. Suffice it to say that, in Colorado, Cruz’s operatives flooded the zone. By contrast, the Trumpers screwed up. They neglected, or forgot, to put Trump loyalists on one of the delegate ballots. But it was worse than that: They also failed to circulate a list of pro-Trump delegates, which meant that convention-goers partial to Trump didn’t know who to vote for.

    What Trump calls “a crooked deal” is actually payback. He has been dumping on the Republican party regulars since day one, and now comes the Newtonian reaction. Republican party regulars, who detest Trump as much as he detests them,  still wield a lot of clout at the delegate level. And delegate slates are typically filled by people who have long toiled for the party. Cruz is working those people hard. So it wasn’t a surprise, this past weekend in Colorado, when the state GOP’s official account tweeted (but later deleted): “We did it. #NeverTrump.”

    By the way, it’s quite amusing to hear Trump whine about crooked deals and corruption — given the fact that he has played the corporate game to the max by fully exploiting the rules of that game. He once explained his four bankruptcies this way: “We’ll have the company. We’ll throw it into a chapter. We’ll negotiate with the banks. We’ll make a fantastic deal …. I’ve used the laws of this country to pare debt.”

    But that’s the game he knows. In politics, he’s an amateur. Heck, two of his own kids missed the registration deadline to vote for Der Dad in the New York primary next Tuesday. (Trump on Fox News yesterday: “They were, you know, unaware of the rules.”) He’ll likely win big in New York, and tally the largest share of pledged delegates, but he’s still on track to come up short on national convention eve.

    Trump’s brand-new delegate hunter, Paul Manafort, insisted this weekend on “Meet the Press” that all will be well. He said, “The campaign is maturing now.” Then he proceeded to say that Cruz is winning delegates with “Gestapo tactics.” Alas, it appears that Trump’s immaturity is already rubbing off on the new guy.

    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1, and on Facebook.

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