“Fury as Colorado has no primary or caucus!” shrieked a scandalized Drudge Report on Monday morning. That would be news to the roughly 60,000 Republicans who caucused across the state on March 1, many of whom attended Saturday’s GOP State Assembly.
Matt Drudge was channeling the phony indignation of his chosen candidate as Donald Trump spent the evening on Twitter and the morning on Fox News complaining that Colorado’s delegate selection process was “a crooked deal.” (If it strikes you as odd that a “news” site has an obvious bias toward a particular candidate, you might not be alone.)
The real crooked deal, and perhaps the reason that Trump and friends are so frenzied in waving around the shiny object of faux corruption, is Donald Trump’s so-called charity: According to an analysis by the Washington Post released Sunday night, 2,900 of the 4,844 reported charitable contributions by Mr. Trump from 2009 through 2014 were free rounds of golf at his golf courses. Others were such things as “175 free hotel stays, 165 free meals and 11 gift certificates to spas.”
Higher-valued “charity” included conservation easements granted on property he owned — likely to have been conditions of receiving permits for land development. According to the Post, not a single item of charity in the “93-page document compiled by the Trump campaign” is a “cash gift from Trump himself.”
At the risk of playing into Mr. Trump’s distraction from the faux-charity bombshell, let’s return to the Centennial State:
Despite the rules of the contest having been set months ago and available for all to read and understand, and despite the votes of thousands of previously elected delegates on Saturday, Mr. Trump has the cojones to say on national television that in Colorado “there was no voting. I didn’t go out there to make a speech or anything…”
In fact, Donald Trump was invited to speak to the roughly 7,000 party faithful at the assembly but declined, having a surrogate, Stephen Miller, do so in his place, while Ted Cruz came to Colorado Springs and continued his domination of Mr. Trump in circumstances in which political organization and base-motivating have been determinative. During the event, Mr. Miller said to the assembled delegates that no state has treated the Trump campaign as fairly as Colorado has, under the leadership of State Republican Party Chairman Steve House.
Mr. Trump seems so incapable of developing tactics around relatively easy-to-understand political rules that one wonders how he has succeeded in real estate development. Perhaps the difference is that Trump can’t actually corrupt and manipulate the Republican Party the way he wishes he could (I guess the GOP doesn’t need a conservation easement) — and the way he has succeeding in corrupting and manipulating the media. (See Fox’s Steve Doocy mindlessly parroting Trump, “It’s rigged!”)
Which brings me back to the reprehensible Monday performance of the Drudge Report.
Consider the four headlines “above the fold” on Drudge’s web page just after 8 AM Eastern Time:
Let’s consider the relevance and accuracy of this “news” aggregation, taking each story in turn:
The first link is a wildly misleading rewording of a headline in the 7-month-old article it links to, which reported that the state GOP changed its rules for the caucus to remove a binding presidential straw poll and instead elect unbound delegates to the state convention. Yes, the process is arcane and no, it’s not the best way for Colorado to select delegates (which is why the next time around we will likely have a primary election rather than caucuses).
In any case, to reword the true headline in order to imply, as Drudge did, that somehow Colorado would not participate in a presidential election borders on journalistic malpractice. Actually, it’s well across the border. It’s an illegal alien in the land of ethical political news coverage and, per Mr. Trump’s own wishes, should be deported immediately.
Drudge’s second headline implies that large numbers of Colorado Republicans were so disgusted by this weekend’s proceedings that there was a mass burning of voter registration forms. Instead the video links to one bitter man burning a form that he claims is some sort of GOP registration. However, the man in the video is the same man who posted another anti-GOP video which appears to be, to put it plainly, a pack of lies. Even if this man were genuine in his anger and behavior, a single person lighting a single piece of paper on fire hardly qualifies for Drudge’s plural headline, “Voters burn registrations in protest.”
But wait, there’s more!
The next headline, “1 million Republicans sidelined,” suggests that Colorado made efforts to disenfranchise masses of Republican voters. In fact, with the possible exception of Iowa, it is reasonable to assume that participation in any state’s caucuses is lower than participation would be if the state had a primary election because the former requires effort.
Republicans were not “sidelined” in Colorado any more than they are in the dozen or so other states and territories that utilize caucuses, nor are Republicans sidelined any more than Democrats are due to a state’s choice to have a caucus. It is fair to note that Colorado’s rule change away from a binding straw poll diminished caucus participation but that was a voluntary choice made by those who could have attended. Anybody registered as a Republican or a Democrat prior to January 4 was eligible to participate in this year’s Colorado caucuses for their respective parties.
And then there’s Drudge’s final headline which links to another dated Denver Post story, this one an editorial from February in which the paper’s editorial board correctly notes that Colorado’s rules this year did shift some of the delegate selection process into the hands of more active Republicans rather than ordinary caucus-goers. There are items to quibble with in the piece, but the real issue is that Messrs. Trump and Drudge are obviously complaining only because they lost.
They didn’t just lose. They got utterly walloped. Skunked. Shut out. Aced. Wiped off the state’s electoral map. But it wasn’t because the game was rigged or because Ted Cruz cheated. It was because Trump simply didn’t play.
Trump didn’t come to Colorado; Cruz did. Trump fired his local staffer just days before the assembly, giving his replacement an impossible organizational task. Trump’s staff printed delegate guides with errors (compounded by a printing error on the ballot itself, which was not the Trump campaign’s fault). The Cruz campaign created a website to aid supporters; Trump’s didn’t. And so it goes.
The complaining by Donald “Sore loser” Trump and his pet propagandist Matt Drudge about what happened in Colorado might be worth a moment of consideration if there were important differences between the results here and those from other caucuses, the majority of which Trump also lost. But there aren’t.
Was Utah’s process — in which Cruz, as in Colorado, won every single delegate — a “crooked deal”? Or Kansas’s? Or any other caucus state? The answer to each is a resounding no, yet in those cases Mr. Trump was (at least relatively) silent. So why the furor over Colorado?
Donald Trump is squawking about his Colorado loss more than any other is to distract consumers of social media and gullible Fox News couch-sitters, perhaps the biggest donors of free air time to the phone-it-in campaign of The Donald, from the devastating revelation that Donald Trump’s “millions of dollars” in charity over the last several years may not have involved opening his own wallet a single time.
Colorado’s caucus and assembly process in 2016 left much to be desired — which is why it is all but certain to change — but Donald Trump’s whinging about his loss here has nothing to do with delegates and everything to do with distraction.