Washington, DC - There is an ancient aphorism, both sexist and archaic (and now as unacceptable as the “n” word) that proclaims, “When rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”
But faced with the prospect of political rape by the Donald Trump presidential candidacy, Republicans are far from willing to accept an “inevitable” and certainly not prepared to find any enjoyable element in the circumstance.
Although Trump as the destined Republican nominee for presidency is not definitive, its likelihood appears far stronger, following his victories on 1 March’s “Super Tuesday” when he seized a substantial lead in the delegate count. It is not that Trump cannot lose the nomination, at this point, however, it is profoundly unlikely.
The Republican establishment’s miscalculations leading to this impending debacle will have political analysts poring over its entrails for a generation. But essentially it was a conclusion by all Republican party“ normals” that Trump wasn’t serious—akin to having Jackie Gleason from 1950s TV comedy or “make-a-point” individuals (John Anderson in 1980) announcing their candidacies. So it was impossible to take seriously a man whose TV show (The Apprentice) was known best for Trump shouting “You’re fired” at some hapless minion.
So seriously they didn’t take him. Throughout the early rounds, upwards of 16 respectable Republican candidates (including nine current or past governors, five current or past senators, a senior manufacturing CEO, a world-renown neurosurgeon) hammered away at each other. They largely ignored Trump awaiting him to self destruct like the bullfrog attempting to inflate himself to the size of a bull (and hoping to pick up his supporters when he self-destructed).
But Trump filled a niche that others—Democrat and Republican--ignored: the lower-middle class voter whose economic prospects evaporated with the 2008 Great Recession; those convinced Wall Street/big business exported their jobs to Mexico/China/wherever; those more concerned with domestic terrorism than “global warming”; and those furiously angry the USA has lost control of its borders evidenced by 11 million illegal aliens that have burrowed into our society. They don’t understand what elites don’t understand about illegal. That these people have no right to be here and are a vast reservoir of crime, illegitimately sucking up social services and benefits that should accrue to American citizens.
Trump’s bombastic, bullying, blow-hard style offends mannerly U.S. “chattering classes.” His deliberately offensive verbal assaults knock targets off stride (200 years ago he would be fighting a duel a day with individuals whose honor had not been impinged, but trampled.)
His finally awakened critics, however, don’t realize that their ripostes are counterproductive. Indeed, the current blasts of countervailing anger, akin to charging Trump with every imaginable crime/sin including mopery with intent to gawk, will only strengthen Trump.
Pope Francis’s declaration that Trump is not a Christian only reinforces support from Protestant/evangelicals—who have no brief for any Pope trying to tell us who isn’t a Christian;
former Mexican presidents describing Trump in deletable expletives prompts many Americans to wave middle-finger-of-right-hands in their direction, and reinforces the view that Mexicans are shafting us;
contemptuous comments by Europeans (but not Israel) simply prove that Europeans are hypocritical freeloaders, happy to get U.S. protection cost free;
denunciations from “quality” newspapers are even more risible; these are all run by liberal elitists that Trump supporters view with contempt. Other mainstream media get even shorter shift as one recalls that 60 percent of the population has no trust for media;
various politicians denouncing Trump also have no resonance—Congress garners single digit support in polls. And for failed politicians (Romney, McCain) to denounce him illustrates only a jealous coterie of losers.
Indeed, it is time for the Republicans to switch tracks. The likelihood is that a Trump presidential campaign will consequence in devastating defeat reminiscent of Mondale’s 1984 disaster when Democrats lost 49 of 50 states. Or Republican Goldwater losing all but six states in 1964.
Republicans need to focus now on a sauve qui peut strategy: let Trump run his own campaign (accept his billionaire brags of self-financing) with whatever acolytes he can muster. The Republican objective, however, should be to salvage control of Congress. The House appears secure, but its four seat Senate majority is vulnerable since Republicans must defend 20 seats while the Democrats defend only 10.
And if a “black swan” should appear (Justice Department indicts Clinton for e-mail-related felonies) perhaps we will also see flying pigs over Washington.