When politics imitates pro wrestling

Donald Trump is providing plenty of entertainment as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination. Unfortunately, the entertainment resembles that supplied by the TV wrestlers of my youth during “intermission interviews.”

Just about everything was fair game during these “interviews” which I enjoyed far more than the actual matches. The more personal the taunting, the better.

I can’t say that the taunts hurled by the wrestling villains of the early 1960s extended to the war records of the “good guys.” Less was sacred in that pre-PC era than is the case today, but war records might have been.

However, if one adjusts for eras, Trump’s statement that John McCain is “not a war hero,” and his explanation that McCain “is a war hero because he was captured; I like people that weren’t captured” could have come straight from the lips of Dr. Jerry Graham or Captain Lou Albano.

Behaving like a pro wrestling villain isn’t a path to the White House or, let their be no mistake, to the Republican presidential nomination. But it’s possible that Jerry Graham had 10 to 15 percent support among wrestling viewers.

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry all quickly condemned Trump for his attack on McCain’s war record. Ted Cruz did not. He said he considers McCain “an American war hero,” but that he will not criticize another Republican candidate, including Trump.

That’s been his line on Trump all along, and he’s sticking to it for opportunistic reasons, I suspect.

Frankly, though, there is no need for Cruz to pile on Trump over the McCain remark. It’s enough that Cruz contradicted Trump’s view that McCain isn’t a war hero.

What caught my attention was Cruz’s claim that “John McCain is a friend of mine. . . . And Donald Trump is a friend of mine.”

Really? McCain once called Cruz a “wacko bird” (though he later apologized). Is Cruz truly a friend of the prickly Arizona Senator? And in what sense is Cruz a friend of the obnoxious Trump?

Cruz appears to be using the word “friend” in the Washington, DC sense. That’s fine on the Senate floor. But in this context, to my ear anyway, it makes Cruz sound insincere — a bit like a smarmy wrestler during an intermission interview.

NOTE: I have changed the final sentence of this post slightly from the original version.