It's become clear that even a combined John Oliver-Samantha Bee joke-fueled Twitter-bot's worth of insults couldn't stop the Donald Trump train — but that didn't stop GOP long-shot Ted Cruz from firing at Trump hours before polls closed for the Indiana primary on Tuesday. Starting out with G-rated insults like "kooky," Cruz later worked his way through a list of names and criticisms of Trump that included taking on his arrogant "braggadocio," his tendency to tell a lot of untruths and some weird stuff about his sex life (more specifically, "venereal diseases"). It's what folks in the click-bait 'biz would call a "take-down" or a "call-out" or an "obliteration" — because it seems incredibly epic and like it might be a game-changing moment.
However, because it's the 2016 election cycle, we know that probably isn't the case. Trump has been called, arguably, every name in the book. He's been criticized by almost every conceivably sane group and is still winning states by obscene margins. When he's publicly criticized — whether it's from his opponents or the media — it seems to strengthen his already base's belief that their "straight-talking," "tell-it-like-it-is," "outsider" candidate will continue to do right by them while pissing off the groups they already hate (establishment Republicans, liberals, journalists, etc). The hype machine (of which Trump is the prime beneficiary) is continually fed by the outrage/celebration cycle — and that seems to be the only consistent outcome.
So Cruz' decision to strike out now, of all times, with a parade of (uninspiring) insults seems like too little effort, too late in the game. I'd call it a "last-ditch effort" if I didn't believe the Cruz campaign had every intention of sliding a pair of sunglasses over their cadaver of a campaign "Weekend At Bernie's"-style to keep marching until the bitterest of bitter ends.
However, it seems particularly fruitless, particularly pathetic, and particularly lackluster at this stage in the game because it's nothing we haven't seen before. We've watched several other candidates — from Rand Paul (remember him!?), Marco Rubio and even Trump's current buddy/hostage Chris Christie — take up the same strategy and fail to out-do Trump. I mean, if Christie, whose bullying reputation preceded him so early in the primaries couldn't out-do Trump with the aggressive bluster, what hope does the wholly un-intimidating, "Jiminy Cricket!"-shouting Cruz have? Like, let's be real...
Lately, it seems that it just doesn't matter if you call Donald Trump a liar, a misogynist, a racist, a fascist, a defective Richie Rich bobble-head, a Jersey Shore carnival barker, a sociopathic oompa-loompa or a tiny-handed horseman of pestilence. Too often, it feels like those words don't have that much power anymore — no matter how entertaining they are to folks who are already tired of Trump's garbage behavior, they won't do much of anything to change minds.
It's still to be determined whether this sudden burst of trash-talking from Cruz will somehow inspire a surge of support from Indiana voters — but I certainly wouldn't bet on it.