Tuesday, December 8, 2015

We Thought the GOP 2016 Clown Car Would Dismantle the Republican Party. Then Donald Trump Climbed In.

We thought this guy's candidacy was a joke. We don't think that anymore.

Donald Trump didn't so much climb in the GOP clown car as mount it. But one thing's for certain: Now that he's in it -- or on it -- he's made a complete mess of it. If the core of the party didn't appear to be on the verge of fascism and ready to support Trump no matter what, we on the other side would be snickering and making another batch of popcorn. Instead, we're beginning to reach for the brandy.

But others have already started reaching for the brandy, and that's everybody else in the clown car with the possible exception of Ted Cruz. Cruz has made the calculation that he can stay just a smidge to left of Trump's madness and then take over his rival's portfolio when he flames out. To tell you the truth, it may be political genius. Cruz is up where it counts: in Iowa.

Cruz's masterful gymnastics doesn't help matters at all. It simply means that a guy who is a pretty nasty piece of work -- who's alienated everybody, from blacks to Hispanics to his own party -- is going to occupy Trump's space should the reality star stumble. Trump, understanding this, may have grabbed all the oxygen -- and the headlines for at least one new cycle -- in order to bury the good news for Cruz.

Which begs the question: How did a reality star get so separated from reality? 10-cent answer: by following his gut instincts about the GOP primary base. Yikes!

Greg Sargent of WaPo put it well this morning in the title of his piece, "Shockingly, Trump supporters like his call for Muslim ban." That's right. Trump still resonates with his followers, even as a host of leaders in his party and from around the world (!) condemn his new position.

As I said, Cruz -- and a handful of others -- avoid taking Trump on directly.

Jeb Bush is in the midst of a quite a dilemma. He jumps all over Trump on this one:

...but maybe people with longer than a week's worth of memory will remember this:

Somebody maybe could explain to me the difference between Trump's call to ban Muslims and Bush's call to admit only Christians. By Jeb's own criterion, it appears that Trump is not the only one unhinged here.

As it stands, there are a number of possibilities at play:
  • Trump eventually loses the top spot, leaving Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio -- in Cruz's clothing -- to trudge on to represent the totally trashed GOP brand.
  • Trump soldiers on, gets the nomination and perishes in the general.
  • Trump, losing the nomination, runs as an independent, shaving mucho votes from the GOP.
  • Trump, in the New Normal, goes on to win the presidency.
I'm willing to go with any of the above, except the Armageddon fourth option. It's getting pretty weird out there. Hang on and hope that more popcorn is called for than brandy.

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