The more I think about the explosive exchange between Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald Trump about “New York values,” the less I think it will hurt Cruz, and the more cynical and gross both Trump and the media seem.
Here’s the text of the relevant portion of the exchange:
BARTIROMO: 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….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. 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.
A few initial points. First off, Trump’s play here is incredibly manipulative and nasty. Obviously, Cruz didn’t mean to suggest that the behavior of New Yorkers on 9/11 was anything less than exemplary. Cruz insults DC values constantly, but nobody suggests that he’s insulting the behavior of people from DC in their response to an attack on the Pentagon on 9/11. This is politically correct nonsense from The Donald. It isn’t truth, it isn’t brash, and it isn’t honest.
The media know this, but they hate Cruz, so they’ll play along. Remember this: when former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani ran for president in 2008, the media scoffed every time he mentioned 9/11. Now Donald Trump does it to benefit himself politically, and they’re drooling.
In fact, the media attention to the Cruz/Trump “New York values” spat demonstrates more than anything else just how insular and self-centered New York media are. Their response to Cruz’s comments actually reinforces Cruz’s argument, as this insane cover from today’s New York Daily News shows:
But no, there are no New York values.
Bartiromo’s foolish suggestion that she didn’t know what “New York values” means is ridiculous. Everyone knows what it means, including New Yorkers. New York values, in one image, from The New Yorker circa 1979:
The media of New York City playing dumb on “New York values” while they look down their noses at the rest of the country is the height of ridiculousness.
Mark Twain knew what New York values were: “All men in New York insult you--there seem to be no exceptions. There are exceptions of course--have been--but they are probably dead. I am speaking of all persons there who are clothed in a little brief authority.” That was in 1885. Nothing has changed.
New Yorkers are famous for being rude, socially liberal, in favor of big government, in favor of social leftism – and most of all, convinced of their own superiority. This is why everyone hates Yankees fans.
There are wonderful things about New Yorkers, too. But when people say that someone is “New York” outside New York, everybody knows what they mean, just as if they say that someone is “Texas” outside Texas, everybody knows what they mean.
Similarly, New York conservatives complaining about Cruz’s comment that not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan should have their heads examined. This is the state that elected Robert Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, a state whose current governor, Andrew Cuomo, said back in 2010 that all the people who are pro-traditional marriage, pro-life, or pro-gun “have no place in the state of New York.”
And conservatives all over the country have a problem with New York Republicanism. As they should. New York Republicanism is the Republicanism of John Lindsey and Nelson Rockefeller. Even the William F. Buckley crowd name-checked by Trump is considered “establishment” by no less than Donald Trump.
And New Yorkers have an outsized impact on the Republican nomination process. New York hasn’t voted for a Republican since 1984, but as David Wasserman of FiveThirtyEight.com recently pointed out:
According to the RNC’s allotment rules, three delegates are at stake in each district, regardless of the partisan lopsidedness of the seat. This creates a “rotten boroughs” phenomenon in which Blue Zone Republicans’ votes can be disproportionately valuable. For example, three delegates are up for grabs in New York’s heavily Latino, Bronx-based 15th District, which cast just 5,315 votes for Romney in 2012. But there are also three delegates at stake in Alabama’s 6th District, which covers Birmingham’s whitest suburbs and gave Romney 233,803 votes. In other words, a GOP primary vote cast in the bluest part of the Bronx could be worth 43 times more than a vote cast in the reddest part of Alabama.
So yes, “New York values” means something. And it means more to those outside New York than those inside New York, who live in their own bubble and to whom the rest of the country is “flyover” territory.