1. Opinion

Ruth: Setting the spin cycle for Super Tuesday

Published Feb. 26, 2016

If the professional navel-gazers are even remotely right, by the time the sun rises Wednesday Donald Trump could be well on his way to clinching the Republican presidential nomination. And one of the land's great political parties will find itself led by a garden gnome with anger management issues.

Tuesday is, of course, Super Tuesday, or SEC Tuesday, or perhaps Na-Na-Na-Na Tuesday. Whatever you call it, this will mark a significant moment in the Republican and Democratic presidential primary campaigns. Nearly 600 GOP delegates are ripe for the picking Tuesday, while there are about 880 Democratic delegates at stake. Let the shamelessness begin.

If you are a pathetic political junkie, election nights offer the guilty pleasure of the often awkward or egomaniacal concession or acceptance speech.

Trump may have set a new standard for boorishness when, in a preening claim after his Nevada caucuses victory, he shouted: "I love the poorly educated!" There's some unique pandering for you.

As Trump continues to notch one primary or caucus victory after another, his remaining opponents, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio, have been challenged to put a creative and hopeful spin on their inability to catch the Il Duce of Palm Beach.

Sometimes, as Cruz demonstrated in South Carolina, it is best to hope no one noticed you're a bigger loser than Gen. George Custer. "God bless the great state of South Carolina," Cruz bellowed as he took to the stage, noting his campaign had continued to "defy the pundits and produce extraordinary results."

Extraordinary results?

Cruz finished a distant third to Trump and left South Carolina with zero — that's bupkes — delegates. Then Cruz bragged that the nonexistent "screams" people were hearing was the "Washington cartel in full terror." Uh, senator, there's a big difference between "screams" and a "laugh track."

Then the Texas senator followed up his third-place landslide in South Carolina with a another juggernaut-like third-place finish in Nevada, 24.5 percentage points behind Trump. Clearly this was a mandate, as Cruz, who barely won the Iowa caucuses, insisted he and only he — with a consistent track record of losing to Trump by double-digit margins since Iowa — could prevail over the Golden Arches of the GOP.

Translation: Pay no mind to those testy Indians. Nothing to see here.

Young master Rubio was also in fine Mad Hatter form in South Carolina, appearing before his supporters to insist primary voters had demonstrated that "this country is now ready for a new generation of conservatives to guide her into the 21st century." But wait a minute. The 44-year-old Rubio had just lost by 10 points to a 69-year-old apricot.

By the time the Nevada caucuses rolled around, where Rubio lost to Trump by 22 points, the Florida senator didn't even bother with a post-election slice of poppycock no one believes anyway and simply slipped into his Dr. Dentons and went to bed.

So what to look and listen for this Tuesday?

If Trump, as expected, prevails in winning at least nine of the dozen or so contests this week, you might well find Cruz on election night euphorically insisting: "Okay, sure we've lost to a Twinkie across the board by an average of 27 points, which means I've terrified the Washington cartel even more. They are weeping in the streets knowing my campaign, which as been sputtering along like the Joad family jalopy, is on the verge of locking up third place as if I had a homestead exemption on the spot. And now it's on to the Northern Mariana Islands!"

Meanwhile Rubio will come before his adoring crowds to announce: "Make no mistake about it, Barack Obama knows exactly what he's doing. How else to explain yet another loss to Donald Trump, which means Barack Obama knows exactly what he's doing. Did I mention that? Sure, to you and the press and to the rest of the country it might appear I've lost every primary and caucus to a Cleveland Browns helmet. But you don't realize I've lured Donald Trump into a trap. I got him right where I want him. And now it's on to the Virgin Islands!"

And what of the Great Man Eerie of History himself?

"I love all of you! I love the illiterate! I love the grumpy! And I really love the zombies who put me over the top! And now it's on to the Bermuda Triangle!"