Lack of leadership and unity paralyze the movement to save the GOP
It paints a picture of a party sorely lacking leadership, of squabbling factions who agree on the need to stop Trump but somehow can't get together behind a strategy for actually doing it. It shows a Republican congressional leadership determined, in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's words, to "drop (Donald Trump) like a hot potato" if he is nominated, lest association with Il Duce doom the party's Senate and House candidates. It portrays a lack of diplomatic finesse by Marco Rubio, coupled with (ironically) skillful handling by Trump as the causative factors behind Chris Christie's shocking endorsement of The Donald. It reveals a strategy behind John Kasich's stubborn refusal to withdraw from the race and endorse Rubio: a belief that he can come into the convention with more delegates than Rubio, second only to Trump, and thus be the natural alternative should Trump fall short of the majority required for nomination on the first ballot.
The strategy makes a certain amount of sense- but only if Kasich scores big two days from now on Super Tuesday and in the avalanche of primaries and caucuses in the following two weeks. Unfortunately, should he fail, it may then be too late to get behind Rubio and stop Trump from a first ballot victory.
At this point, the strategy of the real Republicans in the party seems to be to somehow deny Trump the delegates he needs to do that. The professional politicians who will, for the most part, make up the convention will only be bound to Trump for one ballot. Afterward, self-preservation will cause many to look to Kasich or Rubio or perhaps Nikki Haley or Mitt Romney or some other figure who didn't run this year.
With the unique illogic characteristic of the oddly authoritarian populists who make up the minority of the party rank-and-file which supports Il Duce, Trump's supporters seem to feel that Trump is somehow already entitled as "the people's choice" to be given the nomination even if he doesn't earn it by winning a majority of the delegates. Since they seem to be immune to logic or reason, I expect that attitude to persist if the Donald falls short of the mark and someone else is nominated at Cleveland, probably leading to the independent presidential bid Trump has theoretically renounced.
Meanwhile, true Republicans- faced with the prospect of a hostile takeover of their party by the odd proto-fascist populist insurgency behind Trump continues to explore the option of an independent conservative candidacy if Trump is, in fact, nominated.
All of this is happening in a year in which by all logic the Republican nominee should cruise (excuse the expression) to victory- and in which it is imperative that he or she do so, since the next president will determine the composition and direction of the Supreme Court and therefore the degree of authority possessed by the Constitution for the next generation. Instead, it faces an unelectable front runner most of the party is convinced is unfit to be president, and the virtual certainty of a divided party no matter what happens from here on out.
HT: Real Clear Politics
Graphic by DonkeyHotey