Maybe Donald Trump never made it down to Times Square in the old days, or wagered a dollar over a trio of ratty cards, or enjoyed coffee with a Wall Street hustler. But there is no way Trump has lived in New York this many years without meeting a flimflam artist. So his dismay over what he calls a “rigged” Republican nomination process seems naïve at best – ridiculous at worst.
Politics is not all fair and aboveboard, you say? Stunning. Next you’re going to tell me Manhattan is an island. Or that there is holding in the NBA.
Of course the game is fixed. The dice were loaded at Plymouth Rock. The cards were marked at Jefferson’s kitchen table. This has infuriated voters for ages (except when it helps their candidate) and they have howled for someone to change the way insiders help their own while keeping outsiders…well, outside. In case you haven’t noticed, Mr. Trump, this is one of the reasons many are turning to you. And if you walk around acting like a preacher at a peep show - shocked by the nastiness of it all - you hardly foster confidence.
Trump got his frock in a twist after Colorado Republicans did not conduct a statewide vote, but simply held precinct meetings to elect their delegates to the national convention. Every campaign knew the rules. But while Trump’s team whined, Cruz worked the field and made off with all 34 pledged delegates.
I get that taking offense is part of Trump’s act. And of course it is frustrating that the regulations are different from state to state, that they change at the last minute, and that in both of the big parties political bosses are tilting the scales. I even understand his surprise to some degree to being buffaloed in the west, because that old song says of New York “If I can make it there, I’m gonna make it anywhere.”
But that’s just a tune. D.C. is its own kind of tough. My advice to any candidate who thinks this is a dirty game? Buck up. If you can’t handle the feeling of being cheated on the trail, you could have a very hard time with the con artists on Capitol Hill.
(CNN”s Tom Foreman is the author of My Year of Running Dangerously.)