It was the shortest speech anyone can remember him giving. He was clearly in a state of disbelief.
How could it be?
Whom could he fire?
The great Donald had lost. It could not be true. He made it all the way to Wednesday before the Great One finally made it official.
Donald Trump was robbed. That's right. Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa; he "stole" it. Twitter is a dangerous tool in the hands of a sore loser:
"Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!"
So tweeted Mr. Trump at 5:47 AM, and his frustration continued to grow as the day progressed. By noon, it was "fraud."
Now you can laugh about Donald Trump, the man who can't believe that anyone — much less 75 percent of Iowa Republican caucus-goers (Trump only won 24.3 percent of votes) — could possibly prefer someone else. So rather than say, "I heard you Iowa," and maybe even, "I learned something from coming in second," Trump goes looking for someone to attack.
Except this week's tirade broke more rules than usual, serious rules, rules that demonstrate exactly why a man like Trump does not belong in politics.
In a democracy, we accept election results whether we like them or not. To the day he died, I'm sure Richard Nixon believed, as did many people, that he won the election in 1960, only to have John F. Kennedy steal it with the late ballots that Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley delivered in the early hours of the morning. And I am absolutely certain that to this day, Al Gore is convinced (and why wouldn't he be?) that he won the general election and a partisan Supreme Court stripped him of that victory.
But here's the point: Nixon conceded anyway. That's what you do in a democracy. Gore asked for the recount to which he was entitled, but when the Supreme Court ordered that Florida stop counting, they did, and Gore conceded. That's what the rule of law means. These are notions fundamental to the stability of our political system. After all, what would have happened if Gore had not acceded to the decision of the Court. Could the United States Marshall Service, which protects the courts, enforce it? Call out the National Guard?
No one likes to lose, especially unfairly. But the stability of our political system depends on candidates behaving as Nixon and Gore did — being good losers, respecting the voters and the vote counters and not tossing around baseless allegations of "fraud."
Donald Trump is struggling to find an explanation for his loss in Iowa because he cannot face the obvious one: that Iowa voters didn't think he was the best candidate. And they were right.
No one has gotten more attention than Trump. No one has done more to take control of this race than Trump. Until now, he has plainly seen himself in the mirror of his advisers as "The One," inevitable, just steps away from his new home on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Trump House. But that's not how politics works. If anyone had a right to think she had earned a cakewalk to the nomination, it was Hillary Clinton, and she has only showed graciousness in accepting that she is now in a race for her political life with a 72-year-old Jewish socialist from Vermont. This was definitely not supposed to happen, but it did, and you don't hear Bernie Sanders complaning about coin tosses that, had they gone his way, might have given him a victory. He's on to New Hampshire and beyond. As for the Donald, defeat is something that you have to get used to — one more reason he is hopelessly temperamentally unsuited for the job he is seeking.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Kona Gallagher