Something must have frozen over this morning—I wake up, read the papers, and have to admit that Donald Trump is proposing a healthy and inclusive vision of what it means to be an American.
In last night’s Republican Presidential candidates’ debate on the Fox Business Network, moderator Maria Bartiromo asked Senator Ted Cruz to elaborate on his contention that Donald Trump “embodies New York values.” Here is the transcript from Washington Post of Cruz’s response and Trump’s crushing counterattack:
… let me follow up and switch gears.
Senator Cruz, you suggested Mr. Trump, quote, “embodies New York values.” Could you explain what you mean by that?
CRUZ: You know, I think most people know exactly what New York values are.
BARTIROMO: I am from New York. I don’t.
CRUZ: What — what — you’re from New York? So you might not.
But I promise you, in the state of South Carolina, they do.
And listen, there are many, many wonderful, wonderful working men and women in the state of New York. But everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro- gay-marriage, focus around money and the media.
And — and I would note indeed, the reason I said that is I was asked — my friend Donald has taken to it as (ph) advance playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”, and I was asked what I thought of that.
And I said, “well, if he wanted to play a song, maybe he could play, ‘New York, New York’?” And — and — you know, the concept of New York values is not that complicated to figure out.
Not too many years ago, Donald did a long interview with Tim Russert. And in that interview, he explained his views on a whole host of issues that were very, very different from the views he’s describing now.
And his explanation — he said, “look, I’m from New York, that’s what we believe in New York. Those aren’t Iowa values, but this is what we believe in New York.” And so that was his explanation.
And — and I guess I can — can frame it another way. Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I’m just saying.
BARTIROMO: Are you sure about that?
TRUMP: So conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan, including William F. Buckley and others, just so you understand.
And just so — if I could, because he insulted a lot of people. I’ve had more calls on that statement that Ted made — New York is a great place. It’s got great people, it’s got loving people, wonderful people.
When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York. You had two one hundred…
… you had two 110-story buildings come crashing down. I saw them come down. Thousands of people killed, and the cleanup started the next day, and it was the most horrific cleanup, probably in the history of doing this, and in construction. I was down there, and I’ve never seen anything like it.
And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death — nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell, the air.
TRUMP: And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers. And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made [Sixth GOP Presidential candidates’ debate, North Charleston, South Carolina, transcribed by Washington Post, 2016.01.14].
Good grief—can no one land a punch on Donald Trump without knocking himself to the floor?
The idea that New Yorkers are somehow un-American or unfit for the Presidency is insulting and absurd. We’ve elected six Presidents from New York, including Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who outperformed their New York predecessors Van Buren, Fillmore, Arthur, and Cleveland). New York City has been the largest city in the United States since our first Census, not because we ship criminals there and build a wall around it, but because it’s a helluva town with opportunity and culture and mass transit and hot dogs. New York is America, as much as any other city and any other state in the Union.
The supreme irony here is that Ted Cruz, the Canadian-born son of a Cuban national who could be excluded from eligibility for the Presidency on a rigorous reading of the Constitution and framers’ intent, is trying to marginalize one segment of the American population based on where they are from, while Donald Trump, the loudmouth jerk who has extended his joke campaign into its eighth big month with fascist xenophobia and thuggery, wins big applause and debate points by reminding us that we are all New Yorkers and Americans.
Ted Cruz come soff sounding like an old Pace Picante Sauce commercial, and Donald Trump comes out sounding like Lee Greenwood.
The moment may not last: as Slate observes, Trump may have won the room with that debate point, but plenty of voters will still lean toward Cruz on their suspicion (envy, rubishness) toward the Big City (even though four out of five Americans live in town). But I will happily cite Trump’s inclusive defense of his hometown the next time South Dakota legislators try invoking New York, San Francisco, or Chicago as some diabolical outsider culture. New York or Newell, San Francisco or Sioux Falls—they’re all part of America, and they’re all wonderful towns.